GAO says software fix needed for 2000 census

The Census Bureau still must solve numerous problems before it conducts the 2000 census, according to a General Accounting Office report released today.

Among the problems are limitations in the software used to match data during a process called Integrated Coverage Measurement. ICM is designed to improve the accuracy of the headcount by reconciling the original census numbers with data gathered from a sample of housing units and using the results to adjust the final count.

The software, according to GAO, "could preclude a match between individuals counted in the census enumeration and those counted in the ICM. These limitations could affect the precision of the adjusted population counts."

Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) said the Census Bureau needs to act quickly to address the issues raised in the report. "Congress is not going to spend more than $4 billion on the Census Bureau's Year 2000 plan if the accuracy of the results are in question, which in large part is what the GAO report we requested found," he wrote in a statement.

The bureau is in the midst of its 2000 census dress rehearsal, which offers a chance to test new technologies and methods before applying them in the actual decennial headcount. April 18 is census day for the dress rehearsal, when census forms sent out this month to limited locations nationwide are due back.

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