Decennial Census:

Fundamental Design Decisions Merit Congressional Attention

T-GGD-96-37: Published: Oct 25, 1995. Publicly Released: Oct 25, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Census Bureau's preparation and design for its 2000 Decennial Census. GAO noted that: (1) the Census Bureau needs a more fundamental design for counting the population; (2) a net undercount of 4.7 million persons obscurred a larger gross error in the 1990 Census, but the count was partially offset by persons improperly included in the 1990 census; (3) the 1990 Census cost a total of $2.6 billion and a record-high $25 per household; (4) the new census design will save nearly $1 billion in costs and improve the scope and quality of data used in Bureau decisionmaking; (5) the Bureau's use of shortened questionnaires and accurate addressee listing will promote more accurate public response, lower costs, and reduce unnecessary mailings and follow-up visits; and (6) Congress will not be able to affect the census without risking wasted expenditures.

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