1990 Census:

Comparison of Coverage Improvement Programs for 1980-1990

GGD-90-8: Published: Nov 28, 1989. Publicly Released: Dec 18, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO compared costs of the Census Bureau's 1980 and 1990 census coverage improvement programs to identify potential areas of budget savings.

GAO found that the Bureau: (1) spent about $101 million in 1980 on 14 coverage improvement programs; (2) estimated that it would spend about $175 million on 13 coverage improvement programs, ranging in cost from about $500,000 to $69 million, for the 1990 census; and (3) attributed the 21-percent real increase over 1980 costs to an increased work load and its planned use of additional or revised procedures which should improve coverage. GAO also found that coverage improvement programs involve: (1) U.S. Postal Service identification and verification of addresses on the Bureau's mailing lists as deliverable, undeliverable, or duplicate; (2) pre-canvas operations, under which census enumerators walk through areas to verify the accuracy of commercial vendor address lists; (3) local governments' identification of shelters, hotels, and other locations where homeless persons reside; (4) editing of questionnaires to improve data quality and to reduce item nonresponse; (5) local government review of preliminary census counts; (6) a telephone questionnaire assistance program; (7) a Spanish questionnaire; (8) a records check procedure for reducing the disproportionate undercount of minorities, parolees, and probationers; (9) the prevention of double counting of households temporarily away from their usual residence on Census Day; and (10) public service advertisements to encourage persons who believe that they are not counted to complete a questionnaire.

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