1990 Census:

Change in Minicomputer Acquisition Strategy

GGD-90-10: Published: Dec 6, 1989. Publicly Released: Jan 4, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information about the Census Bureau's procurement of minicomputers for the 1990 census.

GAO found that the Bureau: (1) cited a 1988 dress rehearsal and a 1988 GAO report in its decision to change its acquisition strategy from purchasing all to leasing most of the estimated 555 minicomputers it needed to support 1990 census activities; (2) reported that the more advanced model of minicomputer it planned to acquire had more speed and memory, used significantly less power, and required less maintenance; (3) planned to purchase 105 minicomputers and lease, with an option to purchase, the rest, since it determined that it did not have a need for them after the census; (4) negotiated with the minicomputer vendor to keep the price of leasing the advanced models to about the same as the cost of purchasing the previous model, although it will spend about $165,000 more for the later model minicomputers; (5) did not consider the minicomputers' residual value to other federal, state, or local government agencies or on the open market in deciding to lease the minicomputers; (6) reported that the acquisition strategy change would not delay the arrival of the equipment or necessitate software program changes; (7) was developing a plan for post-census use of the 105 purchased minicomputers; and (8) included such contingencies as reverting to manual processing, routing information to alternate systems and locations, and correcting software in its formal plan for the event that census software did not perform as expected.

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