2000 Census: Headquarters Processing System Status and Risks
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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The U.S. Census Bureau is conducting the 2000 decennial census. The accuracy of this census depends in part on the proper functioning of 10 interrelated information systems, one of which is the Bureaus headquarters HQ processing system. Given the criticality of this system, the General Accounting Office GAO was asked to 1 identify the nature and status of the HQ processing system and 2 assess the quality of the system and the risks facing the Bureau if effective quality controls are not in place. GAO performed its work from July through September 2000 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. The HQ processing system consists of 48 applications, all developed internally by the Bureau, that support a variety of census operations such as updating address files, creating a file of census responses, and preparing data for tabulation and dissemination. The Bureau reported that, as of July 20, 2000, 31 of the 48 applications were complete and supported or are supporting census 2000 operations. The Bureau lacks effective, mature software and system development processes to control development of its HQ processing system applications. It relies instead on the efforts of individuals to deliver applications on time and within budget-an approach that increases the risk that the applications will not be available when needed andor perform as intended. As a result, the Bureau lacks adequate assurance that the functions performed by the HQ processing system applications-such as ensuring accurate and complete address files and identifying the correct households for enumerators to contact are properly executed.
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