Thompson Releases GAO Report on Concerns With Census 2000

Washington, DC–Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today released a General Accounting Office Report on the plans by the Census Bureau for Census 2000. According to the report “the key activities that GAO examined…are all still facing the developmental and/or implementation challenges that led GAO in 1997 to raise concerns about the high risk of a failed census….”

“Time is running short,” Thompson said, “and the obstacles that remain to a fair and accurate census are alarming. Congress is not going to spend more than $4 billion on the Census Bureau’s Year 2000 plan if the accuracy of the results are in question, which in large part is what the GAO report we requested has found.”

The report concludes that the risks of a failed census have increased. It found “the Bureau’s sampling and statistical estimation design faces methodological, technological and quality control challenges.” GAO also found that “the accuracy of the Bureau’s address lists is uncertain, and local reviews may be too sporadic to greatly improve them.” Accurate address lists are essential for ensuring that households receive census questionnaires.

GAO also concluded that “the Bureau’s outreach and promotion efforts face obstacles that could impede its ability to achieve its mail response rate objective.”

Representative Dan Miller (R-FL), Chairman of the Census Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, who plans a hearing on the census at 10 am. tomorrow in the Cannon House Office Building, Room 210, said: “This is the third time the GAO has warned of a failed census. In February 1997, the GAO placed the 2000 Census on its high-risk list. In July 1997 the GAO said the ‘risk of a failed census has increased.’ And now the GAO says ‘the risk of a failed census in 2000 has increased since our July 1997 report.’ That’s three strikes from the GAO in one year! My question to the Census Department is: is anyone listening? Or is the Census Titanic going to hit the iceberg?”

Copies of the GAO Report are available for pick-up at the Governmental Affairs Committee office in Room 340, Dirksen Building.