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8(a) Program: Fourteen Ineligible Firms Received $325 Million in Sole-Source and Set-Aside Contracts

8(a) Program: Fourteen Ineligible Firms Received $325 Million in Sole-Source and Set-Aside Contracts

Date: March 30, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration (SBA) helps socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses gain access to federal contracting opportunities through its 8(a) program. To participate, firms must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by an individual who meets SBA's criteria of socially and economically disadvantaged. The firm must also qualify as a small business. Once certified, 8(a) firms are eligible to receive sole-source and set-aside contracts for up to 9 years. GAO was asked to (1) determine whether ineligible firms are participating in the 8(a) program, (2) proactively test SBA's controls over the 8(a) application process, and (3) determine what vulnerabilities, if any, exist in SBA's fraud prevention system. To identify cases, GAO reviewed SBA data and complaints to GAO's fraud hotline. To perform its proactive testing, GAO created four bogus businesses and applied for 8(a) certification. GAO did not attempt to project the extent of fraud and abuse in the program."
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8(a) Program: The Importance of Effective Fraud Prevention Controls

8(a) Program: The Importance of Effective Fraud Prevention Controls

Date: March 3, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses the results of our prior investigation of the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8(a) Business Development Program. SBA's 8(a) program, named for a section of the Small Business Act, is a development program created to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the American economy and access the federal procurement market. To participate in the program, a firm must be certified as meeting several criteria, including: be a small business as defined by SBA; be unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and citizens of the United States; and show potential for success. Upon certification, firms can obtain federal contracts without competing fully and openly for the work. For example, agencies are permitted to enter into sole-source contracts after soliciting and negotiating with only one 8(a) company. They also can participate in restricted competitions for federal contracts, known as set-asides, open to only 8(a) companies. In March 2010, GAO issued two companion reports on the 8(a) program, one focused on internal control procedures and processes that SBA has implemented to ensure that only eligible firms participate ...
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9/11 Commission Report: Reorganization, Transformation, and Information Sharing

9/11 Commission Report: Reorganization, Transformation, and Information Sharing

Date: August 3, 2004
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The sorrow, loss, anger, and resolve so evident immediately following the September 11, 2001, attacks have been combined in an effort to help assure that our country will never again be caught unprepared. As the 9/11 Commission notes, we are safer today but we are not safe, and much work remains. Although in today's world we can never be 100 percent secure, and we can never do everything everywhere, we concur with the Commission's conclusion that the American people should expect their government to do its very best. GAO's mission is to help the Congress improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. GAO has been actively involved in improving government's performance in the critically important homeland security area both before and after the September 11 attacks. In its request, the House Committee on Government Reform have asked GAO to address two issues: the lack of effective information sharing and analysis and the need for executive branch reorganization in response to the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Further, the Committee has asked GAO to address how to remedy problems in ...
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401(K) Plans: Certain Investment Options and Practices That May Restrict Withdrawals Not Widely Understood

401(K) Plans: Certain Investment Options and Practices That May Restrict Withdrawals Not Widely Understood

Date: March 10, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "401(k) plan sponsors are responsible for offering an array of appropriate investment options, and participants are responsible for directing their investments among those options. While participants expect to be able to switch investment options or withdraw money from their accounts, during the recent economic downturn, some 401(k) plan sponsors and participants found that they were restricted from doing so. GAO was asked to (1) identify some of the specific investments and practices that prevented plan sponsors and participants from accessing their 401(k) plan assets and (2) determine any changes the Department of Labor (Labor) could make to assist sponsors in understanding the challenges posed by the investments and practices that restricted withdrawals. To do this, GAO reviewed relevant federal laws and regulations and consulted with experts, federal officials, service providers, and plan sponsors."
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401(K) Plans: Improved Regulation Could Better Protect Participants from Conflicts of Interest

401(K) Plans: Improved Regulation Could Better Protect Participants from Conflicts of Interest

Date: January 28, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Recent volatility in financial markets highlights the need for prudent investment decisions if 401(k) plans are to provide an adequate source of retirement income. While plan sponsors and participants may receive help in assessing their investment choices, concerns have been raised about the impartiality of the advice provided. GAO was asked to describe circumstances where service providers may have conflicts of interest in providing assistance related to the selection of investment options for (1) plan sponsors and (2) plan participants, and (3) steps the Department of Labor (Labor) has taken to address conflicts of interest related to the selection of investment options."
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401(k) Plans: Increased Educational Outreach and Broader Oversight May Help Reduce Plan Fees

401(k) Plans: Increased Educational Outreach and Broader Oversight May Help Reduce Plan Fees

Date: April 24, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Plan sponsors and participants paid a range of fees for services, though smaller plans typically paid higher fees as a percentage of plan assets. For example, the average amount sponsors of small plans reported paying for recordkeeping and administrative services was 1.33 percent of assets annually, compared with 0.15 percent paid by sponsors of large plans. Larger plans were more likely to pass recordkeeping fees along to participants, but when fees were passed along to participants in small plans, those in large plans paid lower fees than those in small plans. Participants also paid for investment and plan consulting fees—through fees deducted from their plan assets—in more instances than sponsors."
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401(k) Plans: Issues Involving Securities Lending in Plan Investments

401(k) Plans: Issues Involving Securities Lending in Plan Investments

Date: March 16, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Securities lending can be a relatively straightforward way for plan sponsors and participants to increase their return on 401(k) investments. However, securities lending can also present a number of challenges to plan participants and plan sponsors. GAO was asked to explain how securities lending with cash collateral reinvestment works in relation to 401(k) plan investments, who bears the risks, and what are some of the challenges plan participants and plan sponsors face in understanding securities lending with cash collateral reinvestment. In this testimony, GAO discusses its recent work regarding securities lending with cash collateral reinvestment. GAO is making no new recommendations in this statement but continues to believe that the Department of Labor (Labor) can take action to help plan sponsors of 401(k) plans and plan participants to understand the role, risk, and benefits of securities lending with cash collateral reinvestment in relation to 401(k) plan investments. Specifically, GAO recommended that Labor provide more guidance to plan sponsors about fees and returns when plan assets are utilized in securities lending with cash collateral reinvestment, amend its participant disclosure regulation to include provisions specific to securities lending with cash ...
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401(K) Plans: Labor and IRS Could Improve the Rollover Process for Participants

401(K) Plans: Labor and IRS Could Improve the Rollover Process for Participants

Date: March 7, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The current rollover process favors distributions to individual retirement accounts (IRA). Waiting periods to roll into a new employer plan, complex verification procedures to ensure savings are tax-qualified, wide divergences in plans' paperwork, and inefficient practices for processing rollovers make IRA rollovers an easier and faster choice, especially given that IRA providers often offer assistance to plan participants when they roll their savings into an IRA. The Department of Labor (Labor) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provide oversight and guidance for this process generally and can take steps to make plan-to-plan rollovers more efficient, such as reducing the waiting period to roll over into a 401(k) plan and improving the asset verification process. Such actions could help make staying in the 401(k) plan environment a more viable option, allowing participants to make distribution decisions based on their financial circumstances rather than on convenience."
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401(k) Plans: Other Countries' Experiences Offer Lessons in Policies and Oversight of Spend-down Options

401(k) Plans: Other Countries' Experiences Offer Lessons in Policies and Oversight of Spend-down Options

Date: November 20, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The six countries GAO reviewed can offer U.S. regulators lessons on how to expand access to a mix of spend-down options for 401(k) participants that meet various retirement needs. Five of the six countries generally ensure that participants can choose among three main plan options: a lump sum payment, a programmed withdrawal of participants' savings, or an annuity. In the last several decades, all the countries took steps to increase participant access to multiple spend-down options, with some first conducting reviews of participants' retirement needs that resulted in policy changes, as shown below. In the United States, 401(k) plans typically offer only lump sums, leaving some participants at risk of outliving their savings. The U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and the Treasury (Treasury) have begun to explore the possibility of expanding options for participants, but have not yet helped plan sponsors address key challenges to offering a mix of options through their plan."
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401(k) Plans: Policy Changes Could Reduce the Long-term Effects of Leakage on Workers' Retirement Savings

401(k) Plans: Policy Changes Could Reduce the Long-term Effects of Leakage on Workers' Retirement Savings

Date: August 28, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Under federal regulations, 401(k) participants may tap into their accrued retirement savings before retirement under certain circumstances, including hardship. This "leakage" from 401(k) accounts can result in a permanent loss of retirement savings. GAO was asked to analyze (1) the incidence, amount, and relative significance of the different forms of 401(k) leakage; (2) how plans inform participants about hardship withdrawal provisions, loan provisions, and options at job separation, including the short- and long-term costs of each; and (3) how various policies may affect the incidence of leakage. To address these matters, GAO analyzed federal and 401(k) industry data and interviewed federal officials, pension experts, and plan administrators responsi- ble for managing the majority of 401(k) participants and assets."
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401(k) Plans: Several Factors Can Diminish Retirement Savings, but Automatic Enrollment Shows Promise for Increasing Participation and Savings

401(k) Plans: Several Factors Can Diminish Retirement Savings, but Automatic Enrollment Shows Promise for Increasing Participation and Savings

Date: October 28, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Over the past 25 years, the number of defined benefit (DB) plans has declined while the number of defined contribution (DC) plans has increased. Today, DC plans are the dominant type of employer-sponsored retirement plans, with more than 49 million U.S. workers participating in them. 401(k) plans currently cover over 85 percent of active DC plan participants and are the fastest growing type of employer-sponsored pension plan. Given these shifts in pension coverage, workers are increasingly relying on 401(k) plans for their pension income. Recently, policy makers have focused attention on the ability of 401(k) plans to provide participants with adequate retirement income and the challenges that arise as 401(k) plans become the predominant retirement savings plan for employees. As a result, GAO was asked to report on (1) challenges to building and maintaining of savings in 401(k) plans, and (2) recent measures to improve 401(k) participation and savings levels."
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911 Services: Most States Used 911 Funds for Intended Purposes, but FCC Could Improve Its Reporting on States' Use of Funds

911 Services: Most States Used 911 Funds for Intended Purposes, but FCC Could Improve Its Reporting on States' Use of Funds

Date: April 18, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Although states faced challenges and delays in the past, states have made significant progress implementing wireless Enhanced 911 (E911) since 2003. Wireless E911 deployment usually proceeds through two phases: Phase I provides general caller location information by identifying the cell tower or cell site that is receiving the wireless call; Phase II provides more precise caller-location information, usually within 50 to 300 meters. Currently, according to the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), nearly 98 percent of 911 call centers, known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), are capable of receiving Phase I location information, and 97 percent have implemented Phase II for at least one wireless carrier. This represents a significant improvement since 2003 when implementation of Phase I was 65 percent and Phase II was 18 percent. According to NENA's current data, 142 U.S. counties (representing roughly 3 percent of the U.S. population) do not have some level of wireless E911 service. The areas that lack wireless E911 are primarily rural and tribal areas that face special implementation challenges, according to federal and association officials."
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2000 Census: Actions Taken to Improve the Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Center Programs

2000 Census: Actions Taken to Improve the Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Center Programs

Date: February 25, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of the Bureau of the Census' Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Center programs, focusing on the steps the Bureau has taken to address certain shortcomings that the Bureau encountered during the dress rehearsal for the 2000 Census."
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2000 Census: Analysis of Fiscal Year 2000 Amended Budget Request

2000 Census: Analysis of Fiscal Year 2000 Amended Budget Request

Date: September 22, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Bureau of the Census' fiscal year (FY) 2000 budget, focusing on: (1) an overall analysis of the key changes in assumptions resulting in the $1.7 billion request increase; (2) details on the components of this increase and which changes, according to the bureau, are related and which are not related to the inability to use statistical sampling; and (3) the process the bureau used for developing the increase in the original FY 2000 budget request and the amended budget request."
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2000 Census: Analysis of Fiscal Year 2000 Budget and Internal Control Weaknesses at the U.S. Census Bureau

2000 Census: Analysis of Fiscal Year 2000 Budget and Internal Control Weaknesses at the U.S. Census Bureau

Date: December 28, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In September 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau told Congress that it had at least $305 million in budget savings out of its $4.5 billion fiscal year 2000 no-year appropriations for the 2000 decennial census. Of the $4.5 billion appropriated to the U.S. Census Bureau in fiscal year 2000, lower-than-expected expenditures and obligations resulted in available balances of at least $415 million. A lower-than-expected support staff workload reduced salary and benefit costs by about $348 million. Enumerator workload is largely determined by the initial mail response rate for returned census questionnaires. The initial mail response of 64 percent meant that Census enumerators did not have to visit more than three million American households. However, the available balances from the higher mail response rate and the lower support staff workload were partially offset by about $100 million of higher salary and benefit costs for enumerators, including a higher workload for unanticipated recounts. According to Bureau data, enumerator productivity did not significantly affect budget variances for the 2000 decennial census. The Bureau reported the national average time to visit a household and complete a census questionnaire was about the ...
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2000 Census: Answers to Hearing Questions on the Status of Key Operations

2000 Census: Answers to Hearing Questions on the Status of Key Operations

Date: May 31, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: Correspondence issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of the Bureau of the Census' key census operations, focusing on: (1) whether the Bureau followed GAO's recommendations and adopted an alternate form of contingency planning instead of relying on Congress for a supplemental appropriation; (2) why the census is such a local endeavor; (3) whether the Bureau will be able to translate the high level of public awareness into participation for the 2000 Census; (4) whether partnership specialists will be stretched too thinly to have a successful impact on the 2000 Census; (5) the challenges facing the Bureau in conducting a timely and accurate followup; (6) how the Bureau could intentionally or unintentionally cut corners to get the nonresponse follow-up workload done in a shorter period of time; and (7) the risks that could jeopardize the release of timely data."
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2000 Census: Best Practices and Lessons Learned for More Cost-Effective Nonresponse Follow-up

2000 Census: Best Practices and Lessons Learned for More Cost-Effective Nonresponse Follow-up

Date: February 11, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Nonresponse follow-up--in which Census Bureau enumerators go door-to-door to count individuals who have not mailed back their questionnaires--was the most costly and labor intensive of all 2000 Census operations. According to Bureau data, labor, mileage, and administrative costs totaled $1.4 billion, or 22 percent of the $6.5 billion allocated for the 2000 Census. Several practices were critical to the Bureau's timely competition of nonresponse follow-up. The Bureau (1) had an aggressive outreach and promotion campaign, simplified questionnaire, and other efforts to boost the mail response rate and thus reduce the Bureau's nonresponse follow-up workload; (2) used a flexible human capital strategy that enabled it to meet its national recruiting and hiring goals and position enumerators where they were most needed; (3) called on local census offices to identify local enumeration challenges, such as locked apartment buildings and gated communities, and to develop action plans to address them; and (4) applied ambitious interim "stretch" goals that encouraged local census offices to finish 80 percent of their nonresponse follow-up workload within the first four weeks and be completely finished by the end of the eighth week, as opposed ...
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2000 Census: Better Productivity Data Needed for Future Planning and Budgeting

2000 Census: Better Productivity Data Needed for Future Planning and Budgeting

Date: October 4, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Nonresponse follow-up was the most expensive and labor-intensive of all Census 2000 operations. The Census Bureau spent $1.2 billion and used more than 500,000 enumerators to obtain census information from 42 million nonresponding households in less than 10 weeks. Because of this colossal workload, even small variations in productivity had significant cost implications. Workload and enumerator productivity have historically been two of the largest drivers of census costs, and the Bureau developed its budget model for the 2000 Census using key assumptions about these two variables. Nationally, enumerators completed their nonresponse follow-up workload at a rate of 1.04 housing units per hour--slightly exceeding the Bureau's expected rate of 1.03 housing units per hour. Productivity varied for the four primary types of local census offices, ranging from 0.90 housing units per hour in inner-city and urban areas to 1.10 cases per hour in rural areas. In refining the data, the Bureau corrected what it considered to be the most significant discrepancy--a misclassification of some employees' time charges that overstated the number of hours worked by nonresponse follow-up enumerators and understated enumerator production rates."
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2000 Census: Complete Costs of Coverage Evaluation Programs Are Not Available

2000 Census: Complete Costs of Coverage Evaluation Programs Are Not Available

Date: October 31, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "To assess the quality of the population data collected in the 2000 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau conducted the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (A.C.E.) program, which focused on a survey of housing units designed to estimate the number of people missed, counted more than once, or otherwise improperly counted in the census. GAO reviewed the life cycle costs of the A.C.E. program and its predecessor, the Integrated Coverage Measurement (ICM) program. GAO found that the original estimated cycle costs of conducting the ICM/A.C.E. programs were $400 million. The first evidence for the original $400 million estimate is in the original budget justifications for fiscal year 2000. The bureau based its estimates of ICM/A.C.E. costs on assumptions about the needs for personnel and benefits, contractual services, travel, office space, equipment, and other costs necessary to conduct and support operations of the programs. The budgeted amounts that GAO identified from bureau records for conducting the ICM/A.C.E. programs are $277 million through fiscal year 2003. The obligated costs that GAO identified from bureau records for conducting the ICM/A.C.E. programs are $207 million through fiscal year 2001. $58 million of ...
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2000 Census: Contingency Planning Needed to Address Risks That Pose a Threat to a Successful Census

2000 Census: Contingency Planning Needed to Address Risks That Pose a Threat to a Successful Census

Date: December 14, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Year 2000 census, focusing on: (1) the need to boost the declining level of public participation in the census; and (2) the Census Bureau's need to collect timely and accurate data from nonrespondents."
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2000 Census: Coverage Evaluation Interviewing Overcame Challenges, but Further Research Needed

2000 Census: Coverage Evaluation Interviewing Overcame Challenges, but Further Research Needed

Date: December 31, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "As part of its Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (ACE), the U.S. Census Bureau interviewed people across the country to develop an estimate of the number of persons missed, counted more than once, or otherwise improperly counted in the 2000 census. In conducting the interviews, which took place in person or over the phone, Census faced several challenges, including (1) completing the operation on schedule, (2) ensuring data quality, (3) overcoming unexpected computer problems, (4) obtaining a quality address list, and (5) keeping the interviews independent of census follow-up operations to ensure unbiased estimates of census errors. The Bureau completed the interviews largely ahead of schedule. On the basis of the results of its quality assurance program, the Bureau assumes that about one-tenth of one percent of all cases nationally would have failed the program because they were believed to have been falsified. Early on, the Bureau dealt with an unexpected problem with its automated work management system, which allows supervisors to selectively reassign work among interviewers. According to the Bureau officials, the Bureau addressed the underlying programming error within two weeks, and the operations proceeded on ...
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2000 Census: Coverage Evaluation Matching Implemented as Planned, but Census Bureau Should Evaluate Lessons Learned

2000 Census: Coverage Evaluation Matching Implemented as Planned, but Census Bureau Should Evaluate Lessons Learned

Date: March 14, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The U.S. Census Bureau conducted the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (ACE) survey to estimate the number of people missed, counted more than once, or otherwise improperly counted in the 2000 Census. On the basis of uncertainty in the ACE results, the Bureau's acting director decided that the 2000 Census tabulations should not be adjusted in order to redraw the boundaries of congressional districts or to distribute billions of dollars in federal funding. Although ACE was generally implemented as planned, the Bureau found that it overstated census undercounts because of an error introduced during matching operations and other uncertainties. The Bureau concluded that additional review and analysis of these uncertainties would be needed before the data could be used. Matching more than 1.4 million census and ACE records involved the following four phases, each with its own matching procedures and multiple layers of review: computer matching, clerical matching, field follow-up, and clerical matching. The Bureau applied quality assurance procedures to each phase of person matching. Because the quality assurance procedures had failure rates of less than one percent, the Bureau reported that person matching quality assurance was ...
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2000 Census: Coverage Measurement Programs' Results, Costs, and Lessons Learned

2000 Census: Coverage Measurement Programs' Results, Costs, and Lessons Learned

Date: January 29, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "To help measure the quality of the 2000 Census and to possibly adjust for any errors, the U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) conducted the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (A.C.E.) program. However, after obligating around $207 million for A.C.E. and its predecessor program, Integrated Coverage Measurement (I.C.M.), from fiscal years 1996 through 2001, the Bureau did not use either program to adjust the census numbers. Concerned about the amount of money the Bureau spent on I.C.M. and A.C.E. programs and what was produced in return, the subcommittee asked us to review the objectives and results of the programs, the costs of consultants, and how best to track future coverage measurement activities."
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2000 Census: Headquarters Processing System Status and Risks

2000 Census: Headquarters Processing System Status and Risks

Date: October 17, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The accuracy of the 2000 decennial census depends in part on the proper functioning of 10 interrelated information systems, one of which is the Census Bureau's headquarters (HQ) processing system. The HQ processing system consists of 48 applications, all developed internally by the Bureau, that support various census operations, such as updating address files, creating a file of census responses, and preparing data for tabulation and dissemination. GAO found that the Bureau lacks effective, mature software and system development processes to control development of its HQ processing system applications."
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