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Highlights

The Congress asked GAO to review operational and programmatic aspects of the Census Bureau's ACS that will affect the reliability of small geographic area data. The ACS will be a mail survey of about 3 million households annually, whose results will be cumulated over 5 years to produce estimates that will replace information previously provided by the Decennial Census long form. In addition, annual data will be published for geographic areas with 65,000+ populations and as 3-year averages for areas with populations of 20,000 to 65,000. Annual data will be published beginning in 2006 with data for 2005. The 5-year averages for 2008-12 will provide data for small geographic areas.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Commerce To ensure that the ACS is an adequate replacement for the Decennial Census long form, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Census Bureau to revise the ACS evaluation and testing plan and focus on the issues we have identified in this report.
Closed - Implemented
A 9/1/05 follow-up on this recommendation noted that the revised plan incorporating GAO's recommendation was issued on 9/1/05.
Department of Commerce To ensure that the ACS is an adequate replacement for the Decennial Census long form, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Census Bureau to provide key stakeholders, such as the National Academy of Sciences, with meaningful and timely input on decisions relating to these issues.
Closed - Implemented
In a letter dated 9/1/05, the Census Bureau reported that this recommendation has been implemented.
Department of Commerce To ensure that the ACS is an adequate replacement for the Decennial Census long form, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Census Bureau to make public the information underlying the Census Bureau's decisions on these issues when it makes the decisions.
Closed - Implemented
In a letter dated 9/1/05, the Census Bureau reported that this recommendation has been implemented.
Department of Commerce The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Census Bureau to prepare a time schedule for the 2010 Decennial Census that provides for resolving these issues by incorporating all operational and programmatic changes into the 2008 ACS so that the 5-year averages for 2008-12 will adequately replace the 2010 Decennial Census long-form data for small geographic areas. These revisions should be reflected in the single, comprehensive project plan for the 2010 Census, as was previously recommended.
Closed - Not Implemented
Too soon to assess progress on this recommendation.

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