Census Bureau Participation in Los Angeles Symposium, August 2000

GAO-01-124R: Published: Oct 24, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 2000.

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The Bureau of the Census' participation in a Los Angeles symposium on the challenges facing the African American community has been criticized. Concerns have been raised about whether the event was being held for political purposes and whether federal funding was inappropriately used. GAO concludes that the Bureau's participation complied with federal regulations prohibiting agencies from using appropriated funds for publicity and propaganda. According to the Bureau, its presence at the symposium was strictly for informational purposes and did not promote the agency. GAO found no evidence that the event had any political connections; the Democratic National Convention, which was held two days later, was not connected to the symposium. The Bureau's decision to partner with the organizers of the event was consistent with its policy to work with any organization that can reach traditionally hard-to-count populations, such as African Americans. The Bureau viewed the symposium as an opportunity to further the goals of its outreach program. The cost to participate in the symposium was nominal, according to Bureau officials. Posters costing about $117, promotional items from its Los Angeles office's inventory, and compensatory time for two employees were the extent of the Bureau's expenditures.

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