Review of Allegations Made About the Census Bureau

IMTEC-85-4: Published: Jan 23, 1985. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO evaluated allegations concerning: (1) Census Bureau mismanagement and improprieties which occurred during a district recount necessitated by the destruction of demographic data during a fire; (2) the cover-up of the results of an investigation and audit of the recount; (3) abuse of travel allowances; (4) and the use of government resources for the private interests of the former Bureau director.

GAO obtained limited information concerning management weaknesses, questionnaire falsification, and improper temporary employee conduct and provided the Department of Commerce's Inspector General (IG) with the information concerning questionnaire falsification and improper conduct of temporary census employees. However, GAO found no information to support a cover-up by the IG, travel abuse, or misuse of government resources by the former Bureau director. GAO found that travel and subsistence costs for out-of-town employees, higher pay for temporary workers, overtime payments, and the use of rental vehicles caused the recount to cost more than three times the cost of the original count. GAO found that the Bureau completed its statutory recount mission in a short time period despite a change in management and ongoing litigation. However, attention to the problems associated with the temporary employment of out-of-town personnel, facility security, information backup, and payment methods could help prevent future problems. Furthermore, the increased use of automation could provide a backup file of data that would eliminate the need for a recount in a similar crisis.

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