Census Bureau Still Cannot Adequately Assess the Quality of Its Work, Says New GAO Report

Dec 28, 2004
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - The Census Bureau still is not fully capable of assessing the quality of its data, despite some progress since the 2000 Census, according to the Government Accountability Office (https://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0586.pdf). Four years ago questions arose about the ability of the Bureau to determine the data’s quality. The new GAO report says that standards were never in place to assess the quality in 2000. Furthermore, the report states that while limited improvements and standards have been implemented since then, the Bureau must accelerate its efforts to review data quality and implement new standards in time for the 2010 Census.

“In 2000, the Census Bureau didn’t even know what questions to ask to determine the quality of its data, and it seems that little has changed,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14). “This is supposed to be the nation’s pre-eminent statistical organization, but it can’t even tell us if its data is valid and why. I concur wholeheartedly with the GAO – the Bureau must accelerate its quality review standards in time for 2010.”

The report was requested by Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01), Ranking Member on the House Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census; Rep. Danny Davis (IL-07); Rep. Charles Gonzales (TX-20); and Maloney.