Expanding the Role of Local Governments:

An Important Element of Census Reform

T-GGD-91-46: Published: Jun 15, 1991. Publicly Released: Jun 15, 1991.

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GAO discussed local government participation in the 1990 decennial census. GAO noted that: (1) the Census Bureau relied on local governments participation in such ways as helping to determine what data would be collected on the census questionnaire, encouraging public participation, and helping to improve the completeness of the Bureau's address lists and the accuracy of population counts; (2) local governments benefited from actively participating in the census by receiving appropriate political representation and federal funds; (3) Census Bureau response data and its survey indicated that only about 32 percent of eligible governments participated in reviewing the Bureau's preliminary housing unit counts for their areas; (4) 44 percent of the local governments that did not review the Bureau's counts lacked funds, expertise, or staff to carry out a local review program, and 31 percent lacked housing unit data at the level required to validate the Bureau's count; (5) although the 1990 census indicated a growing appreciation of the importance of an accurate and complete census among local governments, many still failed to give the census priority attention; and (6) census reform will require increased state and local government participation in planning the 2000 census.

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