Effective public outreach campaign and careful management save taxpayer dollars
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today that the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau is returning $1.6 billion in 2010 Census operational savings.
In the first full year of Census management by Obama administration officials and in a time of tightened federal resources, the Census came in 22 percent under budget. The savings occurred primarily because contingency funding set aside for disasters or major operational failures was not tapped and because the Census questionnaire mail-back response rate and workforce productivity across field operations both beat expectations.
In the years leading up to the 2010 Census, operations had been beset by a costly IT systems development. Upon taking office in 2009, Locke and Census Bureau Director Robert Groves heard warnings from Congress and Census watchdogs about the many high-risk operational challenges ahead and about the numerous systems failures in the years preceding the 2010 count. Importantly, response rates to surveys had been declining for years, and if that trend had held true for this decade’s census, it would have added hundreds of millions to the cost of the door-to-door follow-up effort.
“In early 2009, the 2010 Census was in need of top-notch operational and fiscal management,” Locke said. “The Census is a massive undertaking with great risk for operational problems and cost overruns. We appointed Dr. Groves to execute the 2010 Census with a directive to run a successful, non-partisan Census that counted everyone. Just as importantly, the President and I directed Dr. Groves to run a comprehensive review of the Census plan and find ways to cut costs and enumerate the population more efficiently. Over the last 17 months, we have worked tirelessly to ensure American tax dollars were being spent wisely.” Read more  | en español  | Remarks  | White House blog  | Census Director's blog