GAO Warns That Compressing Census Timeframes Risks an Accurate Count

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Census Bureau “to change how it will operate” and a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that, as the Bureau implements those changes and “anticipates completing them within the new compressed timeframes,” that a number of areas require close watch. “We have previously reported that late design changes can introduce new risks and the Bureau identified this as a risk in August of 2015. Delays, the resulting compressed timeframes, implementation of untested procedures, and continuing challenges such as COVID-19 could escalate census costs and undermine the overall quality of the count.”

As the GAO demonstrates, the impact of a rushed 2020 Census could be quite negative.