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Program Assessment


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Census Bureau: Decennial Census

The purpose of the program is to provide comprehensive and useful demographic information about all people living in the United States, including population information used to apportion the seats in the Congress. Many other Federal agencies rely on census data to determine how to allocate theirprogram funding.


What This Rating Means

Moderately Effective

In general, a program rated Moderately Effective has set ambitious goals and is well-managed. Moderately Effective programs likely need to improve their efficiency or address other problems in the programs' design or management in order to achieve better results.
  • For Census 2000, all operations were completed on time while achieving the lowest net coverage error rate ever. However, the life cycle costs of the census have risen significantly over time. These increases outpace the increase in number of households within the U.S. and are driven, in part, by demographic challenges and the difficulty of achieving a highly accurate count.
  • The Bureau is in the midst of a multi-year strategic effort to reengineer the 2010 Census. This will include a 'short-form' only census, a second mailing of questionnaires, and the use of hand-held computers for limited data collection.
  • The Census Bureau is continuing to implement a reengineered census in 2010. While automation of data collection has been reduced, the American Community Survey was fully implemented as a replacement for the decennial long-form, the Census Bureau's geographic database has been completely upgraded, and census tests were conducted in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, culminating in a 2008 Dress Rehearsal.

Improvement Plan

About Improvement Plans

We are taking the following actions to improve the performance of the program:

  • Continue to examine all key cost factors to identify potential areas for saving.
  • Ensure there is adequate oversight of contractors developing critical 2010 IT systems.

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