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Highlights

In the 1990 and 2000 Censuses, U.S. military and federal civilian employees overseas were included in the numbers used for apportioning Congress. Currently, the U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) is assessing the practicality of counting all Americans abroad by holding a test census in France, Kuwait, and Mexico. GAO was asked to (1) assess the soundness of the test design, and (2) examine what past court decisions have held about Americans' rights and obligations abroad.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
In order to give the Bureau as much planning time as possible, Congress may wish to consider coming to an early decision on whether the Bureau should be required to enumerate overseas Americans, and if so, whether they should be counted as part of the decennial census or by some other, separate data collection effort.
Closed - Implemented
Congress has come to an early decision and will not require the Census Bureau to enumerate Americans living overseas for the 2010 Census. Given the complexities involved in counting Americans living overseas Congress does not wish to divert resources away from the stateside enumeration.
Should Congress desire an overseas count--be it part of the decennial census or a separate data collection effort--it may wish to consider telling the Bureau how the data would be used (e.g., for purposes of apportionment, redistricting, allocating federal funds, or a tally of the U.S. overseas population). This information would enable the Bureau to more thoroughly evaluate procedures and resources needed to meet Congress's specific requirements, and ultimately provide Congress with better information with which to gauge the feasibility of such an approach.
Closed - Not Implemented
We recommended that Congress discuss with the Bureau how data collected on Americans living overseas will be used (e.g. apportionment, redistricting, allocating funds, or a tally). The recommendation is closed and not implemented because at this time, Congress does not wish to divert resources away from the stateside 2010 Census in order to collect data on Americans living overseas.

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