Problems in Developing the 1980 Census Mail List

GGD-80-50: Published: Mar 31, 1980. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 1980.

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In developing a complete and accurate national mail list for the 1980 census, the Bureau of the Census experienced many operational problems. The Bureau's two basic operations for developing the national mail list are (1) physically canvassing rural and small urban areas and listing addresses (prelisting), and (2) purchasing commercial mail lists for major urban areas. The commerical lists are refined through physical canvassing. The quality of the mail lists developed in these two operations is checked by the Postal Service.

There were numerous shortcomings in operations for developing the mail list for rural and small urban communities. On the basis of experience, the Bureau determined that the mail-out/mail-back procedure improves census results and that commercial mail lists are a good starting point for developing a mail list. However, few vendors could meet the Bureau's overall needs for mail lists, and limitations in the Bureau's mail list evaluation procedures did not assure that the best lists were purchased. The Postal Service reviews are very important in developing a complete and accurate mail list. Past experience has shown that the Postal Service does materially improve a list but that there are still many missing addresses. The percent missed is not alarming when the Postal Service is initially provided a good list and when sucessive reviews are made.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Bureau of the Census should use the mail list developed for the 1980 census in the major urban areas for future Bureau needs, such as a planned mid-decade census, by periodically updating the list through Postal Service reviews.

    Agency Affected:


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