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Highlights

To conduct a successful census, it is important that the U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) produce the most complete and accurate address file and maps for 2010. For this review, GAO's specific objectives were to determine the extent to which (1) the Bureau's efforts to modernize the address file and maps are addressing problems experienced during the 2000 Census, (2) the Bureau is managing emerging address file and map issues, (3) the Bureau is able to collect and transmit address and mapping data using mobile computing devices (MCD) equipped with global positioning system (GPS) technology, and (4) the Bureau has a plan to update the address file and maps in areas affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. GAO reviewed the Bureau's progress in modernizing both the address file and maps.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Commerce 1. To mitigate potential risks facing the Bureau as it plans for 2010 and to ensure a more complete and accurate address file for the 2010 Census, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the U.S. Census Bureau to establish firm deadlines to complete research, testing, and evaluations of the Master Address File (MAF) to prevent missed, deleted, and duplicate addresses, as well as map errors, and develop an action plan that will allow sufficient time for the Bureau to revise or establish methodologies and procedures for building the 2010 MAF.
Closed - Implemented
In building the MAF for 2010 the Census Bureau took several steps to ensure the MAF will account for missed, deleted, and duplicate addresses. For example, in 2007 the Bureau designed procedures to determine the status of duplicate housing units during its Field Verification operation, while all housing units identified for deletion are rechecked during quality control to ensure a housing unit is not mistakenly deleted. The Bureau also developed procedures for locating missed addresses. During address canvassing listers were required to knock on doors and ask about hidden housing units not on the address file. Finally, the Census Bureau conducted tests in the spring of 2007 and winter of 2008 to its Field Data Collection Automation system, which allowed listers to verify, update, add, and delete address records in each census block and update map features electronically via a global positioning system.
Department of Commerce 2. To mitigate potential risks facing the Bureau as it plans for 2010 and to ensure a more complete and accurate address file for the 2010 Census, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the U.S. Census Bureau to reevaluate the 2010 address canvassing schedule in areas affected by bad weather, as well as staffing levels, to ensure that the status of all housing units are accurately verified throughout the entire country.
Closed - Implemented
Consistent with our recommendation, the Bureau has re-evaluated the 2010 address canvassing schedule. Specifically, it has developed a proposal to conduct the operation in three 6-week waves. This proposal has been reviewed internally and issues with the revised schedule on on other programs and operations have been identified and are being evaluated as well.
Department of Commerce 3. To mitigate potential risks facing the Bureau as it plans for 2010 and to ensure a more complete and accurate address file for the 2010 Census, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the U.S. Census Bureau to develop a plan, prior to the start of the local update of census addresses in August 2007, that will assess whether new procedures, additional resources, or local partnerships may be required to update the MAF/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing databases for areas along the Gulf Coast affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Closed - Implemented
Consistent with our recommendation the Bureau has assessed whether new procedures, additional resources, or local partnerships may be required to update the address lists and maps along the Gulf Coast. In March 2006, the Bureau chartered a team to look at the impacts to the address lists and maps for areas along the Gulf Coast affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In June 2007, we reported that the team proposed several changes to the 2010 local update of census address program and address canvassing in the Gulf coast Region and that these changes have been implemented.

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