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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the 1980 census data processing procedures to identify the reasons for the time the Bureau of the Census needs to publish the data and to determine whether changes in procedures and equipment could reduce the time and cost involved.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Commerce 1. The Secretary of Commerce should require the Director, Bureau of the Census, to develop a 1990 census plan that includes decision points for evaluating the acquisition, testing, and installation of ADP equipment that are based on past times for planning the 1980 census and acquiring new ADP equipment. The plan should provide for: (1) an analysis of alternative data processing systems that meet census needs and identify the total cost to perform the task including acquisition, maintenance, and personnel; (2) the possibility of redesigning the 1980 census questionnaire to eliminate or reduce responses requiring manual coding; (3) an estimate of the expected time to release 1990 census databased on data processing improvements; (4) clearly defining the responsibilities of the organizational units working on Census Bureau ADP modernization and identify how their activities will be integrated with 1990 census planning; (5) a budget for implementing the plan with initial funding requested in the Census Bureau's fiscal year (FY) 1984 budget submission to Congress; and (6) internal periodic reports to assess the progress of the plan and identify any revisions needed.
Closed - Implemented
A decision was made to continue to use basic data entry equipment used in prior censuses. A cost comparison was not made. There was poor procurement planning. The questionnaire was not redesigned, but a system of automated coding is planned.

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