GAO REPORT ON CENSUS BUREAU's FAILURE TO RELEASE HOMELESS DATA

Feb 21, 2003
Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and William Lacy Clay (D-MO) released a Report prepared by the General Accounting Office (GAO) on the Census Bureau's decision not to release data gathered during the 2000 Census on people without conventional housing. The report is titled, "Decennial Census: Methods for Collecting Data on the Homeless and Others without Conventional Housing Refinement."

For the 2000 Census, the Bureau employed several initiatives to help ensure a complete and accurate count of people without conventional housing. To help locate and count people, the Bureau partnered with organizations providing services to the homeless and local governments, some of which put substantial resources into their efforts - yet the Census Bureau won't release the data.

Contrary to what they did in the 2000 Census, the GAO report calls on the Census Bureau to test and evaluate procedures for counting people without conventional housing, develop guidelines for decisions on the level of quality needed to release data to the public and ensure that plans for releasing data are clearly communicated to data users in the future.

"This is ridiculous. Many states and cities invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist the Census count in 2000, and they are being denied access to the information they helped gather. I can't figure out which is worse, that Census won't release the information, or that we can't get a straight answer as to why they won't release it." said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney in a statement today.

In the end, the GAO report makes three recommendations:

1) Ensure that all procedures for enumerating and estimating segments of the population without conventional housing are properly tested and evaluated under conditions as similar to the census as possible.

2) Develop agency-wide guidelines for Bureau decisions on the level of quality needed to release data to the public, how to characterize any limitations in the data, and when it is acceptable to suppress the data for reasons other than protecting the confidentiality of respondents. Ensure that these guidelines are documented, transparent, clearly defined, and consistently applied.

3) Ensure that the Bureau's plans for releasing data are clearly and consistently communicated with the public.


To view the report in its entirety, please go to: https://maloney.house.gov/sites/maloney.house.gov/files/documents/olddocs/census/HomelessReportd03227.pdf

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