1990 Census:

Costs are Uncertain Because Wage Rates May Be Uncompetitive

GGD-90-78: Published: May 1, 1990. Publicly Released: May 1, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Bureau of the Census' program for using geographic pay rates for temporary positions during the 1990 census.

GAO found that: (1) the Bureau identified sources of funding for an estimated $50-million cost increase needed for increased wages under its geographic wage program, but estimated those costs based on the expected 70-percent census response rate; (2) the geographic wage program cost would continue to increase, since the Bureau had to hire additional staff to handle its expected increased work load; (3) census costs would also increase because of the low response rate, and follow-up efforts could increase census costs by an additional $70 million; (4) the Bureau did not test its geographic pay rates under census-like conditions because it did not implement the wage program until after it completed its census field tests; (5) in the past, the Bureau has had to raise pay while field activities were ongoing to attract sufficient staff; and (6) the Bureau said that if it needed to raise wages during the 1990 census, it would have to alter its plans or request additional funding.

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