2000 Census:

New Data Capture System Progress and Risks

AIMD-00-61: Published: Feb 4, 2000. Publicly Released: Feb 4, 2000.

Additional Materials:


Jack L. Brock, Jr
(202) 512-4841


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Bureau of the Census' Data Capture System (DCS) 2000 for the tabulation of 2000 census data, focusing on the status and quality of DCS 2000, as well as the risks Census faces in successfully completing the system.

GAO noted that: (1) Census has made considerable progress on DCS 2000; (2) however, Census faces a formidable challenge in delivering promised DCS 2000 capabilities on time because much remains to be accomplished and little time remains to accomplish it; (3) Census has extended the system's schedule by 4 months due largely to requirement changes; (4) and, before its revised completion date of February 25, 2000, Census must complete many important system development and testing activities, including the completion of the final two software releases as well as system acceptance, site acceptance, and operational tests; (5) the numbers of yet-to-be-resolved defects for DCS 2000 have yet to show a clear and sustained downward trend that is expected as a system begins to mature; (6) to expedite the completion of DCS 2000, Census and its development contractor are following an incremental development and deployment strategy; (7) such a strategy can save time because it can get a system into the hands of users faster so that problems can be identified sooner rather than later; (8) while Census' implementation of this strategy has introduced considerable development and test concurrency, which increases the risk of defects being found and corrected independently and thus inconsistent system baselines being produced, this risk is being mitigated by the development contractor through effective management controls, such as project risk management and configuration management; (9) Census and its development contractor have taken other steps to ensure the successful delivery of DCS 2000; (10) another factor strongly in Census' favor is that its development contractor has been independently assessed as having highly effective software development capabilities in such important areas as software project planning, tracking and oversight, configuration management, software quality management, and defect prevention; (11) nevertheless, delivering promised DCS 2000 capabilities remains at risk because less than 2 months remain before data capture operations are to begin, leaving very little room for error; (12) many important development and test activities remain that will likely reveal more system defects and thus compound an already uncertain system maturation picture; and (13) in discussing this risk with DCS 2000 program officials, they agreed that delivering promised system capabilities on time is a risk, and they subsequently provided evidence that they have: (a) designated this as a high risk under the DCS 2000 risk management program; and (b) defined and initiated proactive steps to mitigate the risk and its potential impact on the program.

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