Finalizing Plans to Ensure an Effective and Efficient Decennial Census

Video Message: Robert N. Goldenkoff

Robert N. Goldenkoff

Director, Strategic Issues

(202) 512-2757

The results of the 2010 Census are central to apportionment, redistricting congressional boundaries, and distributing around $300 billion in federal aid to states and localities each year. Soon after taking office, the new administration will need to address the significant management and technology challenges facing this complex and costly effort. Early in 2009, the first nationwide field operation of the 2010 Census—address canvassing—is scheduled to begin. During this operation, the Census Bureau will rely, for the first time, on hand-held computers to verify address and map information. However, in March 2008, we designated the decennial census as a high-risk area, in part because of (1) ongoing challenges in managing information technology (IT)—including the hand-held computers, which have experienced memory overloads and other technical issues; and (2) uncertainty over the total cost of the decennial census (now estimated to cost between $13.7 billion and $14.5 billion). The Census Bureau is strengthening its oversight of IT management activities, and a limited field test of the hand-held computers is scheduled for December 2008. Importantly, there will be little time for refinements if performance problems persist.

^ Back to topWhat Needs to Be Done

  • Ensure that IT systems are fully tested and ready for 2010 and that risks associated with these systems are identified and mitigation plans are in place.

    Highlights of GAO-08-79 (PDF)

  • Improve the reliability of the 2010 Census cost estimate by thoroughly documenting and updating the estimate’s assumptions and conducting sensitivity and uncertainty analysis on the estimate.

    Highlights of GAO-08-554 (PDF)

^ Back to topKey Reports

2010 Census: Plans for Decennial Census Operations and Technology Have Progressed, But Much Uncertainty Remains
GAO-08-886T, June 11, 2008
2010 Census: Census Bureau Should Take Action to Improve the Credibility and Accuracy of Its Cost Estimate for the Decennial Census
GAO-08-554, June 16, 2008
Information Technology: Significant Problems of Critical Automation Program Contribute to Risks Facing 2010 Census
GAO-08-550T, March 5, 2008
2010 Census: The Bureau's Plans for Reducing the Undercount Show Promise, but Key Uncertainties Remain
GAO-08-1167T, September 23, 2008
More Reports More Results Toggle