2000 Census: Contingency Planning Needed to Address Risks That Pose a Threat to a Successful Census.
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC GENERAL GOVERNMENT DIV
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Taking a complete and accurate census is an enormous and costly endeavor. For the 2000 Census, the Bureau of the Census estimates it will need to properly locate and collect information on more than 270 million residents living in about 119 million housing units. To do this, the Bureau expects to open over 520 local census offices fill about 1.35 million temporary positions receive, at peak, from 40 to 70 million questionnaires process about 1.5 billion pages of data and use more than 20 mIllion maps for fieldwork. The Bureau estimates that the cost of the 2000 Census will be at least 6.8 billion. This represents an increase of 113 percent in real terms over the 3.2 billion cost of the 1990 Census in 1999 dollars. When measured on a cost-per-housing unit basis, the 2000 Census will cost an estimated 57 per housing unit in 2000 compared to about 31 in 1990 in 1999 dollars, which is an increase of 84 percent. The 1990 Census was the most costly census in U.S. history and data were less accurate than the 1980 Census, leaving millions of Americans- especially members of minority groups-uncounted. Throughout this decade, the Bureau has aggressively planned and implemented a census in 2000 that seeks to address the problems with prior censuses. Despite the Bureaus efforts, however, our work in recent years has continued to show that formidable challenges surround key census-taking operations. In February 1997, our findings led us to conclude that there is a high risk that the 2000 Census will be less accurate and more costly than previous censuses.
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