2000 Census:

Actions Taken to Improve the Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Center Programs

GGD-00-47: Published: Feb 25, 2000. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of the Bureau of the Census' Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Center programs, focusing on the steps the Bureau has taken to address certain shortcomings that the Bureau encountered during the dress rehearsal for the 2000 Census.

GAO noted that: (1) the Bureau has taken several important steps to improve the Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Center programs following the dress rehearsal; (2) the Bureau's actions were necessary because the Bureau found that although the Be Counted program added people to the population totals, the program sites were not well targeted and people may have trouble finding Be Counted forms in places where they were supposed to be available; (3) the Bureau's findings are consistent with GAO's observations during the dress rehearsal that processes and procedures used to select, staff, and monitor site locations did not always achieve their intended results; (4) the Bureau's actions to improve the programs include providing its Regional Census Centers with guidance on selecting and operating sites, as well as developing a form for Bureau staff to track the services provided by Questionnaire Assistance Centers on a daily basis, to help ensure that they are providing intended services; (5) the 85,221 Be Counted forms distributed at the three dress rehearsal sites added 1,477 people to the population totals, or about 0.14 percent of the total population of the three sites; (6) the Bureau found that, compared with traditional mail return procedures, the Be Counted forms were more likely to include members of such typically undercounted populations as minority groups and the young; (7) if effectively implemented, the Bureau's actions could address the operational shortcomings it encountered during the dress rehearsal, by making the two programs more visible and accessible to traditionally undercounted populations; (8) nevertheless, some uncertainties remain; and (9) key among them is whether the Bureau will open as many program sites as it originally planned and whether it has the ability to monitor and maintain them.

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