Status of Plans for the 1990 Decennial Census:

An Update

T-GGD-89-15: Published: Mar 23, 1989. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1989.

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GAO discussed the Census Bureau's preparations and efforts to improve its operations for the 1990 census. GAO found that the Bureau: (1) plans to process census data earlier to allow adequate time for quality checks; and (2) automated some manual operations, such as map preparation, to limit errors experienced in the 1980 census. GAO believes that the Bureau's: (1) estimate of $2.6 billion for the 1990 census was unrealistic because it did not include possible funding shortfalls or program priorities; (2) plans to cut costs through reductions of staff, travel funds and pay increments could adversely impact on census data quality, which could result in supplemental appropriations; and (3) decision not to update its new automated geographic files for the 1990 census will not provide accurate geographic information on localities. GAO also believes that the Bureau needs to: (1) prioritize its program to allow it to make funding decisions; (2) expedite its decisions on pay structure so that its recruiting drive will not be hampered; (3) explore a legislative option to encourage federal retirees to accept temporary employment without reductions in retirement benefits; (4) collect and analyze data to determine why temporary employees terminate their employment, to allow it to better design strategies to attract and retain needed staff; and (5) improve its automated management information systems to accurately and efficiently manage the 1990 census.

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