Diversity in Human Capital, Outreach Efforts Can Benefit the 2010 Census
GAO-07-1132T, Jul 26, 2007
For the 2010 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) faces the daunting challenge of cost-effectively counting a population that is growing steadily larger, more diverse, increasingly difficult to find, and more reluctant to participate in the decennial census. Managing its human capital, maintaining community partnerships, and developing advertising strategies to increase response rates for the decennial census are several ways that the Bureau can complete the 2010 Census accurately and within budget. This testimony, based primarily on past GAO work, provides information on (1) diversity in the Bureau's workforce, (2) plans for partnering with others in an effort to build public awareness of the census; and (3) certain requirements for ensuring contracting opportunities for small businesses.
Diversity in senior leadership is important for effective government operations. GAO found that the racial, ethnic, and gender makeup of the Bureau's senior management and staff in grades most likely to rise to senior management is generally in line with that of the federal government as a whole. The success of the 2010 Census depends, in part, upon the Bureau's ability to recruit, hire, and train a temporary workforce reaching almost 600,000. In 2000, the Bureau used an aggressive recruitment strategy, including advertising in various languages to attract different ethnic groups and races, as well as senior citizens, retirees, and others seeking part-time employment. The Bureau intends to use a similar recruitment strategy for the 2010 Census. For 2010, the Bureau also intends to involve community and other groups to encourage participation in the census, particularly among certain populations, such as persons with limited English proficiency and minorities. Further, the Bureau plans to hire a contractor to develop an advertising campaign to reach undercounted populations. In its contract solicitation, the Bureau has included a requirement that the contractor establish goals for subcontracting with, amongst other groups, women-owned and small disadvantaged businesses, and a requirement that the contractor have experience in marketing to historically undercounted populations such as African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, American Indian and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. This contract is expected to be awarded in September 2007. For the Bureau to leverage the benefit of its diversity and outreach efforts, it will be important for it to follow through on its intentions to recruit a diverse workforce, and utilize the experience of a diverse pool of partners, including community groups, state and local governments, and the private sector.