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Highlights

The Census Bureau plans to increase its use of automation to conduct the 2010 Decennial Census. Two key acquisitions are the Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) and the Field Data Collection Automation program (FDCA). DRIS is expected to standardize and integrate data from census forms and other response modes. FDCA is expected to provide automation support for field data collection activities. Last year, Congress asked GAO to assess the status, plans, and management capabilities of both of these projects. In January 2006, GAO briefed Congressional staff on the results of that work. This testimony summarizes key findings from that briefing, including the status and management capabilities of each project.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the DRIS project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to complete the DRIS project plan and obtain stakeholders' commitment to the plan before initiating further development work.
Closed - Implemented
As of September 2006, the DRIS Project Office has finalized the Project Plan and obtained stakeholders agreements to the plan.
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the DRIS project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to obtain validation, management, and customer approval of DRIS requirements.
Closed - Implemented
The DRIS project has established requirements for two of three phases of DRIS development and has collaborated with the contractor to develop success criteria for each requirement. In addition, the DRIS project has improved its management of the requirements by establishing a process to verify all requirements and track their verification
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the DRIS project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to staff teams and perform planned requirements management activities.
Closed - Implemented
The DRIS project office established teams with responsibility for performing requirements management activities. Further, the project office completed important requirements management activities, including mapping the requirements to test procedures and executing the test procedures.
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the DRIS project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to develop mitigation plans with milestones for key activities, and regularly brief senior managers on important risks.
Closed - Implemented
In GAO-08-79, we determined that the DRIS Project Office is adequately identifying and documenting risks, including system interface risks. The project office has also developed mitigation and contingency plans for significant risks and is regularly briefing senior managers on these risks. An analysis of the most current DRIS risk register, dated May 16, 2008, shows that 19 risks remain (5 high, 5 medium, 9 low), each with a documented risk mitigation plan.
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the DRIS project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to establish performance measures and monitor results for contractor and project office activities.
Closed - Implemented
The Census Bureau's Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) Project Office has established performance measures for monitoring the results of contractor and project office activities.
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the DRIS project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to implement a quality assurance process by establishing responsibilities for assuring product quality and defining how inspections, reviews, and walkthroughs will be used to measure quality.
Closed - Implemented
The Census Bureau's Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) Project Office has established a quality assurance process to monitor the DRIS contractor and the project office's performance.
Bureau of the Census Further, to ensure that the bureau improves its ability to manage this and other acquisitions, the Director of the Census Bureau should immediately establish and enforce a system acquisition management policy that incorporates best practices in system and software acquisition management (including those highlighted in our briefing).
Closed - Not Implemented
The Census Bureau has not yet established and enforced a system acquisition management policy that incorporates best practices in system and software acquisition management.
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the FDCA project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to obtain stakeholder commitment to a project plan that includes estimated project costs and schedules, including deliverables and milestones.
Closed - Implemented
In September 2008, the FDCA project held an integrated baseline review to finalize the project's plan. In doing so, the project obtained commitment on its planned cost and schedule, including deliverables and milestones.
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the FDCA project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to obtain validation and approval of baseline requirements.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2008, the Census Bureau validated and approved the FDCA baseline requirements.
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the FDCA project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to identify, prioritize, and assign responsibilities for risks, and develop and implement risk mitigation plans and actions.
Closed - Implemented
The FDCA project office has identified, prioritized, and assigned responsibilities for risks. In addition, the project office has developed and implemented mitigation plans.
Bureau of the Census To ensure that the bureau adequately manages the FDCA project, the Director of the Census Bureau should direct the project office to develop internal and contractor performance measures and prepare to track project cost, schedule, and performance.
Closed - Implemented
The FDCA project office established performance measures for its activities and the contractor's tasks and deliverables.

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