United States Government Accountability Office GAO Report to Congressional Requesters May 2012 2020 CENSUS Additional Steps Are Needed to Build on Early Planning GAO-12-626 May 2012 2020 CENSUS Additional Steps Are Needed to Build on Early Planning Highlights of GAO-12-626, a report to congressional requesters Why GAO Did This Study What GAO Found GAO’s prior work has shown that it will The Census Bureau’s (Bureau) early planning and preparation efforts for the be important for the Bureau to 2020 Census are consistent with most leading practices in each of the three reexamine its management and culture management areas GAO reviewed. For example, with respect to its effort to as well as the fundamental design of transform its decennial organization, top Bureau leadership has been driving the the census in order to ensure a cost- transformation, and the agency has focused on a key set of principles as it effective census. The Bureau begins to roll-out the strategy to staff. Furthermore, the Bureau has created a recognizes this and has taken steps in timeline to build momentum and show progress. At the same time, however, the at least three management areas amount of change-related activity the Bureau is considering as part of its toward achieving these goals. As reorganization of its decennial directorate may not be aligned with the resources requested, this report addresses the the Bureau has allocated to plan, coordinate, and carry it out, and, as a result, extent to which the Bureau is taking steps in accordance with selected the planned transformation efforts may not be sustainable or successful. leading practices that GAO identified Similarly, the Bureau is taking steps consistent with many of the leading practices for (1) organizational transformation, for long-term project planning, such as by, among other activities, issuing its (2) long-term project planning, and (3) series of 2020 planning memorandums in 2009 and 2010 that laid out a high- strategic workforce planning in level framework documenting goals, assumptions, and timing of the remaining preparing for the 2020 Census. To four phases of the 2020 Census. The Bureau also created a high-level schedule meet these objectives, GAO identified of program management activities for the remaining phases, documented key leading practices in these areas that elements such as the Bureau’s decennial mission, vision, and guiding principles, are relevant to the Bureau’s 2020 and produced a business plan to support budget requests, which is being Census planning, reviewed Bureau documents, and interviewed officials. updated annually. Still, the Bureau’s schedule does not include milestones or deadlines for key decisions needed to support transition between the planning What GAO Recommends phases, which could result in later downstream planning activity not being based on evidence from such sources as early research and testing. Furthermore, there GAO recommends that the Census has been little effective outreach to the Bureau’s congressional stakeholders Director take a number of actions to about its reexamination of census processes and design, which could result in a make 2020 Census planning more lack of support on potentially complex or sensitive topics that can be crucial for consistent with key practices in the three management areas, such as creating a stable environment in which to prepare for a census. examining planned transformation In the area of strategic workforce planning, the Bureau is taking steps consistent activity to ensure its alignment with with leading practices such as by identifying current and future critical resources, developing a more-detailed occupations with a pilot assessment of the skills and competencies of selected long-term schedule to smooth information technology 2020 Census positions. However, the Bureau has done transition to later planning phases, little yet either to identify the goals that should guide workforce planning or to implementing effective congressional determine how to monitor, report, and evaluate its progress toward achieving outreach to ensure a stable planning them, which could help the Bureau identify and avoid possible barriers to environment, and setting workforce planning goals and monitor them to implementing its workforce plans. ensure their attainment. The steps the Bureau has taken and has planned are positioning it well during The Department of Commerce this early phase of planning for the 2020 Census. Since much of the Bureau’s concurred with GAO’s findings and early progress is tied to additional planning and other activity needed over the recommendations and provided minor coming months, equally important will be the need to execute these activities in a clarifications, which were included in timely manner to maintain the Bureau’s early momentum toward a cost-effective the final report. 2020 Census. View GAO-12-626. For more information, contact Robert Goldenkoff at (202) 512-2757 or firstname.lastname@example.org. United States Government Accountability Office Contents Letter 1 Background 3 The Bureau Is Beginning an Organizational Transformation Using Key Practices, but Further Planning Is Needed 5 A More Detailed Schedule Could Improve the Bureau’s Existing Project Planning Framework 10 Bureau Is Incorporating Most Key Strategic Workforce Planning Practices but Does Not Yet Monitor Progress toward Workforce Goals 16 Conclusions 20 Recommendations for Executive Action 21 Agency Comments and Our Evaluation 23 Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology 25 Appendix II: Bureau Is Using Selected Key Practices to Carry Out Organizational Transformation for 2020 Census Directorate (Text for Interactive Fig. 2) 28 Appendix III: Bureau Has Developed a High-Level Framework Generally Using Key Leading Practices for Planning Long-Term Complex Projects (Text for Interactive Fig. 3) 30 Appendix IV: Bureau Generally Relied on Key Leading Practices to Carry Out Workforce Planning for 2020 Census (Text for Interactive Fig. 4) 32 Appendix V: List of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Program Management Planning Documents 34 Appendix VI: Comments from the Department of Commerce 36 Page i GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix VII: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments 38 Related GAO Products 39 Table Table 1: Bureau’s Program Management Planning Documents 34 Figures Figure 1: The Life Cycle of the 2020 Census Has Five Phases 5 Figure 2: Bureau Is Using Selected Key Practices to Carry Out Organizational Transformation for 2020 Census Directorate 8 Figure 3: Bureau Has Developed a High-Level Framework Generally Using Key Leading Practices for Planning Long- Term Complex Projects 12 Figure 4: Bureau Generally Relied on Key Leading Practices to Carry Out Workforce Planning for 2020 Census 18 Abbreviations Bureau U.S. Census Bureau HCAAF Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework IT Information Technology OIG Office of Inspector General This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately. Page ii GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning United States Government Accountability Office Washington, DC 20548 May 17, 2012 Congressional Requesters The characteristics of the census—long-term, large-scale, complex, high- risk, and politically sensitive—together make a cost-effective enumeration of the nation’s population and housing a monumental project-planning and management challenge. In preparing for the 2020 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) faces the daunting task of successfully counting a population that is growing steadily larger, more diverse, and increasingly difficult to enumerate in an environment of rapidly changing technology. Challenges in managing and planning the 2000 and 2010 Censuses led to acquisition problems, cost overruns, and other issues, and, as a result, we placed both enumerations on our High-Risk List. 1 Furthermore, the 2010 Census was, at about $13 billion, the costliest U.S. Census in history. Our work on prior censuses has shown that it will be important for the Bureau to reexamine both the fundamental design of the enumeration, as well as its management and culture to ensure that the Bureau’s business practices and systems enable the Bureau to reach its goal of a cost- effective census. 2 And our work has shown that, as a part of robust early planning for the decennial, applying leading practices for planning long- term complex projects from the very beginning can help reduce cost and risk. 3 Consistent with this, the Bureau has stated that to contain costs and maintain quality, bold innovations in both planning and design of the 2020 Census will be required. For example, in fiscal year 2011, the Bureau completed the initial stage of a transformation effort intended, in part, to fundamentally overhaul the Bureau’s approach to planning the decennial 1GAO, High-Risk Series: Quick Reference Guide, GAO/HR-97-2 (Washington, D.C.: February 1997) and 2010 Census: Automation Problems and Uncertain Costs and Plans May Jeopardize the Success of the Decennial and Warrant Immediate Attention, GAO-08-550T (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 5, 2008). 2 GAO, 2010 Census: Data Collection Operations Were Generally Completed as Planned, but Long-standing Challenges Suggest Need for Fundamental Reforms, GAO-11-193 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 14, 2010). 3 GAO, Decennial Census: Additional Actions Could Improve the Census Bureau’s Ability to Control Costs for the 2020 Census, GAO-12-80 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 24, 2012). Page 1 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning census. The Bureau created a new 2020 Census Directorate and a 2020 Research and Planning Office to take the lead for 2020 preparations. Furthermore, during the past year the Bureau began a process of identifying the skills gap in its workforce in order to have the skills and competencies it needs for developing a more cost-effective 2020 Census. As the Bureau continues planning the 2020 Census, it will be important that it implement leading management practices in each of these areas. 4 Instilling leading management practices will also be important for sustaining the Bureau’s transformation efforts and bringing about lasting reforms, especially given the turnover that has been occurring at the head of the agency over the last 40 years. As we noted in our April 2011 testimony, leadership continuity is critical to sustain efforts that foster change, produce results, mitigate risks, and control costs over the long term. 5 However, since 1969 only one Census Director has served longer than 5 years, and the rest—including the current director who recently announced plans to resign from the Bureau in August 2012—served an average term of about 3 years. In this context, we were asked to assess the extent to which the Bureau’s 2020 Census Directorate and its 2020 Research and Planning Office are taking steps consistent with leading practices for (1) organizational transformation, (2) long-term project planning, and (3) strategic workforce planning for the 2020 Census. To meet these objectives, we reviewed existing leading practices for organizational transformation, long-term project planning, and workforce planning that we and other organizations have previously developed, and identified those that are most relevant to the Bureau’s early planning for the 2020 Census. We also reviewed Bureau documents and interviewed Bureau officials involved in the early planning for the 2020 Census. Using these sources, we assessed the extent to which the Bureau was implementing the leading practices. More information on our scope and methodology can be found in app. I. 4 Another management area where the Bureau will need to focus its planning efforts is the area of information technology. We have ongoing work in this area and plan to issue a report on this issue later this year. 5 GAO, 2010 Census: Preliminary Lessons Learned Highlight the Need for Fundamental Reforms, GAO-11-496T (Washington, D.C., Apr. 6, 2011). Page 2 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning We conducted this performance audit from August 2011 through May 2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audits to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objective. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objective. The Bureau’s experience with the 2010 and prior enumerations has Background shown that lack of proper planning and not following leading practices in key management areas can increase the costs and risks of later downstream operations. Leading up to the 2010 Census, we reported on internal organizational, planning, funding, and human capital challenges that jeopardized the Bureau’s overall readiness. For example, we reported that additional costs and risks associated with the data capture technologies used in the 2010 Census were related to a failure to adequately link specifications for key information technology (IT) systems to requirements. 6 And the lack of skilled cost estimators for the 2010 Census led to unreliable life-cycle cost estimates. Some of the operational problems that occurred during the 2010 and prior censuses are symptomatic of deeper organizational issues. For example, a Bureau self-assessment carried out in October 2008 found that its organizational structure made overseeing a large program difficult and hampered accountability, succession planning, and staff development. We and other organizations, including the Bureau itself, have stated that fundamental changes to the design, implementation, and management of the census must be made in order to address these and other problems. 7 In addition, the Bureau Director has testified that various parts of the Bureau could collaborate more effectively. In response, the Bureau has started numerous change initiatives, some directed at transforming the Bureau’s organization itself in addition to reexamining its fundamental approach to how it will conduct the 2020 Census. 6 GAO, Information Technology: Census Bureau Needs to Improve Its Risk Management of Decennial Systems, GAO-08-79 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 5, 2007). 7 GAO, 2010 Census: Preliminary Lessons Learned Highlight the Need for Fundamental Reforms, GAO-11-496T (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 6, 2011). Page 3 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning The Bureau’s organizational transformation took a significant step forward in July 2011 when it created a 2020 Census Directorate, with decennial planning being led by its 2020 Research and Planning Office. The Bureau is targeting to complete further reorganization of its decennial units by the end of fiscal year 2013. In order to obtain necessary approval from the Department of Commerce, the Bureau has set a target of February 2013 for submitting a proposal to the department. To support the organizational transformation effort, the Bureau has designated an “organizational change manager,” responsible for planning and managing the day-to-day organizational change activities. Relatedly, the Bureau is attempting to develop Bureau-wide, or “enterprise,” standards, guidance, or tools, in areas such as risk management, project management, systems engineering, and IT investment management in order to reduce duplicative efforts across the Bureau. The Bureau is also reexamining how it fundamentally conducts the decennial census, committing to identify and implement innovation and improvements as necessary to conduct the 2020 Census at a lower cost per housing unit than the approximately $100 per housing unit cost of the 2010 Census (in constant 2010 dollars) while still maintaining high quality. To do so, the Bureau has divided the 14-year life cycle of the 2020 Census into five phases, beginning in fiscal year 2009 with Options Analysis. The figure below illustrates the sequencing of the five 2020 Census phases. The current, second, phase, Early Research and Testing, comprises 35 research projects that are intended to explore how design areas could be modified to control costs or improve quality, such as by using the Internet, social media, and administrative records. 8 8 We are separately reviewing specific design elements the Bureau is researching, and expect to issue a report later in the year. Page 4 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Figure 1: The Life Cycle of the 2020 Census Has Five Phases As the Bureau reexamines how it will plan the 2020 Census, it is also reviewing the employee skills and competencies needed to make that happen, in part by a formal analysis comparing its needs to its in-house capabilities being carried out by its Human Resources Division in collaboration with the 2020 Census Directorate. One of the Bureau’s objectives listed within its early planning documents is to have a highly competent workforce that is matched with the demands of the 2020 Census. The Bureau’s 2008 internal assessment found that some activities involving the management of large programs and projects, cost estimation, and IT lacked staff with core skills and experience. The Bureau has said that it needs to develop a clear understanding of how existing skill sets align with emerging needs, determine the best use of resources to close competency gaps, and provide information to employees and managers to guide continuing workforce development. The Bureau is undertaking an organizational transformation of its entire The Bureau Is decennial directorate in order to improve collaboration and Beginning an communication across its divisions, improve operational efficiencies, and instill a culture that, according to the Bureau, encourages risk-taking and Organizational innovation without fear of reprisal. The Bureau believes such change is Transformation Using necessary so that it can more-effectively control costs and enumerate the Key Practices, but population for 2020. In 2010, the Bureau generally completed its peak census data-collection activities consistent with its operational plans and Further Planning Is released the state population counts used to apportion Congress on Needed December 21, 2010, several days ahead of the legally mandated end-of- year deadline, but did so at a cost that was higher than originally estimated. The Bureau is incorporating several leading organizational transformation practices, which we have previously reported can help Page 5 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning individuals affected by the organizational change adapt to the new organization, while simultaneously managing the risk of reduced productivity and effectiveness that often occurs as a result of change. Our prior work has identified key practices in effective organizational transformation, six of which are 9 • ensure top leadership drives the transformation, • focus on a key set of principles and priorities at the outset of the transformation, • set implementation goals and a timeline to build momentum and show progress, • dedicate an implementation team to manage the transformation process, • involve employees to obtain their ideas and gain ownership for the transformation, and • establish a communication strategy to create shared expectations and report related progress. The Bureau is at an early stage of planning for its transformation, and has a difficult road ahead to finish the planning and begin implementing it. As shown in figure 2, the Bureau has taken numerous steps consistent with the key practices. For example, the Bureau Director has led the drive for the reorganization, speaking in public and to Bureau staff a number of times about the need for the Bureau to change if it is to remain cost- effective and relevant in the 21st century. Following the announcement of the Director’s upcoming August 2012 departure, several Bureau executives said that they remained committed to the initiatives and vision shared by the Director, including the organizational transformation. In addition, the Bureau has focused on a key set of principles and priorities at the outset of the transformation, by including in its change-strategy documents not only explicit reliance on the guiding principles for the 2020 Census, but specific principles to guide the transformation itself, such as “make data-driven decisions,” “be responsive and transparent to decennial staff and stakeholders,” and “focus on an efficient and resilient organization.” The Bureau has also created a high-level transformation timeline to build momentum and 9 GAO, Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational Transformations, GAO-03-669 (Washington, D.C.: July 2, 2003). We previously identified nine leading practices, but selected six as most appropriate for the Bureau at this time. Page 6 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning show progress that includes milestones such as staff workshops and deliverables such as multiyear roadmaps. Page 7 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Figure 2: Bureau Is Using Selected Key Practices to Carry Out Organizational Transformation for Interactive graphic 2020 Census Directorate Directions: Roll over each Extent consistent bar to see more information regarding illustrative steps taken and illustrative steps remaining that contributed to the rating given. E nsure top leadership drives the transformation F ocus on a key set of principles and priorities at the outset of the S et implementation goals and a timeline to build momentum and transformation show progress • Define and articulate a compelling Embed core values in every aspect of • Make public implementation goals reason for change. the organization to reinforce the new and timeline. • Document rationale, expected culture. • Monitor employee attitudes and take benefits, and definition of success. appropriate action. Generally consistent Generally consistent Generally consistent D edicate an implementation team to manage the transformation Iideas nvolve employees to obtain their and gain their ownership for the E stablish a communication strategy to create shared expectations and process transformation report related progress • Establish networks to support • Use employee teams. • Communicate early and often. implementation team. • Incorporate employee feedback. • Ensure message consistency. • Select high-performing team • Delegate authority to appropriate • Encourage two-way communication. members. organizational levels. • Provide information to meet employee needs. Partially consistent Generally consistent Generally consistent Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Census Bureau information. Notes: Illustrative steps taken to date: GAO assessments based on Bureau steps taken as of April 10, 2012. Extent consistent: We determined that steps taken or planned were either “generally,” “partially,” or “not” consistent with respective practices. Print instructions To print text version of this graphic, go to appendix II. Page 8 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Figure 2 also shows that the Bureau plans to take further steps over the next year. For example, the Bureau is planning to roll out much of its transformation planning to its staff in June 2012. In July, the Bureau plans to more directly engage decennial staff by beginning a series of data- collection activities, intended for staff to identify which decennial planning processes work well and which need improving, and is considering reliance on focus groups, online staff surveys, or workshops. Eventually, and subject to sustained progress of the transformation process, the Bureau plans by February 2013 to propose specific changes to its decennial organization and finalize a timeline for carrying out the transition to a new organization, subject to approval of the changes by the department and the Office of Management and Budget. Although the Bureau is taking and planning many positive steps toward carrying out its organizational transformation, it may be falling short in its use of an implementation team. Specifically, the amount of change- related activity being planned may not be aligned with the resources the Bureau has allocated to plan, coordinate, and carry them out. While Bureau organizational transformation documents were largely in draft and subject to change at the time we completed our review, the multiple workshops being planned, the preparation of multiple plan and strategy documents referenced as deliverables, as well as the collation and analysis of data to be collected from staff, seem to be substantial work for the sole staff member dedicated at this time to the transformation. That person, the current organizational change manager, has time divided among transformation planning and implementation, support of the executive council advising on the transformation, leading a working group on decennial strategic workforce planning, and leading a working group on 2020 Census organizational change management communication as well. We have previously observed that a strong and stable implementation team responsible for the transformation’s day-to-day management is important to ensuring that transformation receives the focused attention needed to be sustained and successful. If activity planned for the transformation is not aligned with the resources dedicated to it, various change initiatives may not be sequenced or implemented in a coherent and integrated way, collected data may not be properly analyzed and used, and risks to implementation may not be identified or properly mitigated. In written comments on our draft report, the Department of Commerce responded that after receiving the draft the Bureau assigned additional staff and a contractor to support the Bureau’s organizational transformation activity. This action appears responsive to our finding, and, Page 9 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning as follow-up to this report, we will assess any action the Bureau may take to examine the alignment between the levels of activity planned for the transformation and the resources dedicated to their implementation. The Bureau is incorporating several long-term project-planning practices A More Detailed that—if continued and built upon throughout the decade—should help the Schedule Could Bureau avoid many of the management problems it has experienced in prior censuses. For example, the Bureau experienced cost overruns for Improve the Bureau’s the 2010 Census in large part because it had to abandon expensive plans Existing Project for increased use of automation in its field operations late in the planning Planning Framework cycle. Furthermore, preparing a rigorous long-term project plan will help the Bureau demonstrate to Congress and other stakeholders that it can effectively design and manage operations as well as control costs. Our prior work has identified key practices for effective long-term project planning, five of which are 10 • develop a project plan, • involve stakeholders, • incorporate lessons learned, • analyze and mitigate risks, and • monitor progress. As shown in figure 3, the Bureau is taking steps to plan the 2020 Census generally consistent with two of the five key practices we identified and partially consistent with the other three. For example, early on, from June 2009 to November 2010, the Bureau began the practice to develop a project plan by issuing a series of eight 2020 planning memorandums 11 that laid out a framework documenting goals, assumptions, and timing of the remaining four phases of 2020 Census. The Bureau also created a high-level schedule of program management activities for the remaining four phases, documented key elements such as the Bureau’s decennial mission, vision, and six guiding principles, and produced a business plan to support budget requests, which is being updated annually. Also, 10 GAO, 2010 Census: Cost and Design Issues Need to Be Addressed Soon, GAO-04-37 (Washington, D.C.: Jan, 15, 2004). We separate “involve stakeholders” and “incorporate lessons learned” here, and exclude “evaluate human resource implications” since we address human capital practices more extensively elsewhere in the report. 11 U.S. Census Bureau, 2020 Census Information Memoranda Series, Memorandum No. 1-8 (June 22, 2009–Nov. 16, 2010). Page 10 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning consistent with this practice, the Bureau has identified 19 specific management-process areas from management literature and other sources, for which it is developing strategies and plans, such as for knowledge management and performance management (a complete list is included in app. V). The Bureau also took steps to involve stakeholders internally in its early planning when it officially kicked off the 2020 Census on October 3, 2008, with a summit of decennial-census managers discussing challenges, strengths, and weaknesses that would inform the 2020 Census strategic decision-making process. The Bureau began briefing external stakeholders in 2009, describing its approach and high-level plans for the 2020 Census at professional-association meetings, at meetings at the National Academies of Sciences, and to oversight groups such as the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General (OIG) and us. To help implement the practice to incorporate lessons learned, in 2011 the Bureau created a recommendation follow-up process, built around a database it created containing recommendations made in recent GAO and OIG reports on the 2010 Census, and the Bureau has begun including recommendations from its own 2010 Census evaluation reports as well. Not having a formal process for recommendation follow-up for prior censuses made it difficult to ensure that recommendations were systematically considered by those at the Bureau best able to act on them. In concert with a knowledge-management strategy, the Bureau has provided these recommendations to relevant Bureau research and testing teams for their consideration. Page 11 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Figure 3: Bureau Has Developed a High-Level Framework Generally Using Key Leading Practices for Interactive graphic Planning Long-Term Complex Projects Directions: Roll over each Extent consistent bar to see more information regarding illustrative steps taken and illustrative steps remaining that contributed to the rating given. Develop a project plan Involve stakeholders Incorporate lessons learned Consider all phases of the project • Involve internal and external • Evaluate past performance and and have clear and measurable stakeholders in the decision-making capitalize on lessons learned to goals; clearly state all assumptions, process. improve performance. schedules, and deadlines; and identify • Focus on the highest-priority • Include the processes required to needed skills and resources. stakeholder needs and mission use project information to improve goals. future efforts. Partially consistent Partially consistent Partially consistent Analyze and mitigate risks Monitor progress • Identify, analyze, prioritize, and Identify measurable performance document risks. Ideally, assess goals that describe and guide more than one alternative. successful planning. Collect • Plan risk management—the process performance data and report it to of defining how to conduct risk determine how well the goals are management activities for a project. being achieved. Generally consistent Generally consistent Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Census Bureau information. Notes: Illustrative steps taken to date: GAO assessments based on Bureau steps taken as of April 10, 2012. Extent consistent: We determined that steps taken or planned were either “generally,” “partially,” or “not” consistent with respective practices. Print instructions To print text version of this graphic, go to appendix III. Page 12 GAO-12-626 2020 Early Census Planning Figure 3 also shows that the Bureau plans to take further steps over the next several months. For example, the Bureau is planning in August 2012 to finalize both the detailed schedule of all program management, systems engineering, and training activities for the current research and testing phase of the 2020 Census, as well as all of the individual project plans for the research and testing projects that it began during fiscal year 2012. According to Bureau officials, these processes will evolve and mature as the Bureau learns from the initial implementation and progress from one phase to the next. And in September, it will issue its initial plan for managing communications on 2020 Census planning, progress, and design with established 2020 Census external advisory boards as well as its own staff. While the Bureau is taking steps generally consistent with two of the five leading practices we identified in this area, additional steps are needed to better implement three practices presented in figure 3. For example, to better develop a project plan for long-term projects having multiple phases, the Bureau can take steps to address three weaknesses with its current scheduling. First, it will be important for the Bureau to include milestones marking deadlines and decisions that affect later phases. The Bureau’s business plan for the 2020 Census notes one lesson it is trying to leverage from prior censuses is to ensure that evidence from such sources as research and testing is used to inform later planning. But, current Bureau plans provide inadequate detail on when key decisions will need to be made to support transition between the planning phases. For example, while the Bureau has research and testing activity continuing until 2018, it is not clear what specific activity must be completed to inform design decisions that need to be made before the next phase—operational development and systems testing—begins. With the next phase scheduled to begin as early as 2015, if the needed activities are not completed on time, the Bureau is at risk of not starting downstream operations on schedule. Second, Bureau planning documents do not yet specify when milestones for management activity will—or needs to—transition from the earlier research and testing phase to later phases of 2020 Census planning. Documentation of Bureau management planning focuses naturally and primarily on the current research and testing phase, and much of it states explicitly that the scope of consideration is limited to the research and testing phase. Bureau officials explained that they expect to update most if not all management plans for later phases according to experience gained with them during early research and testing as well as the special needs of later phases. Yet without a schedule for concerted planning to Page 13 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning create, revise, or update management plans to address the needs and circumstances of later phases beyond research and testing, the Bureau may find itself in transition without the management plans ready. This runs the risk of the Bureau having to develop and manage parallel processes if new ones need to be created before it has taken steps to decide how pre-existing ones should be revised to support later phases. A more-visible reflection of projected deadlines, or milestones, for decisions related to later phases can help ensure that all necessary efforts leading up to those milestones are prioritized and completed on schedule. Third, the Bureau is still unsure when some initiatives to implement Bureau-wide, or “enterprise,” solutions in a variety of management areas will be completed. The enterprise solutions the Bureau is implementing show promise to reduce duplication of effort and improve consistency by introducing common standards, processes, tools, and systems in areas such as risk management, project management, systems engineering, and IT investment management. 12 Yet robust planning relies on integrated scheduling to ensure that related and dependent activities are coordinated and sequenced properly. Uncertainty over when enterprise solutions that 2020 Census is expected to rely on will be ready could lead to unnecessary duplication of effort or difficulty in mitigating risks of their delayed completion. Indeed, the 2020 Census staff is already planning and carrying out activities in these areas. Although it is consulting with those responsible for the enterprise solutions, the Bureau’s additionally producing a schedule for each of the enterprise solutions—including expected dates of delivery for tools, processes, and systems, such as 2020 Census is expected to use—would help minimize risks of developing decennial processes and tools incompatible with, or requiring time- or cost-intensive adjustment to harmonize with the forthcoming enterprise solutions. Regarding the involvement of stakeholders in 2020 Census planning, according to senior Bureau officials, there has been little effective outreach by the Bureau to inform congressional staff about the scope of topics the Bureau has planned as part of its approach to fundamentally reexamine how it conducts a census. Bureau officials explained that their 12 We are reviewing the Bureau’s IT investment management processes and plan to issue a report later this year. Page 14 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning congressional outreach thus far has been on budgetary and non- decennial issues. We have previously reported on the importance of congressional outreach on the decennial to secure early agreement between the Bureau and Congress on the Bureau’s fundamental approach for its next decennial. 13 Congressional support—regardless of the approach ultimately selected—is crucial for creating a stable environment in which to prepare for the census. Some of the Bureau’s planned research, such as partial reliance on the Internet for data collection, has not been used by the Bureau on a large scale before, and the Director has also raised the possibility of a need for public debate on the trade-offs between census cost and census quality. Engaging in strategic bicameral and bipartisan communication can help build support for the Bureau’s approach to fundamentally reexamine how it plans for and conducts a decennial census, and helps ensure an informed public debate on any potentially complex or sensitive topics. The Bureau is piloting a process to incorporate lessons learned from recent oversight reporting and 2010 Census evaluations, and will need to take additional steps in order to rely on it as a mature tool to follow up on prior recommendations. We have previously reported that it will be vitally important for the Bureau to identify lessons learned from the 2010 Census to improve census-taking activities and address long-standing challenges. 14 The Bureau’s process captures recommendations from recent 2010 Census evaluations and issues and assigns accountability for follow-up to staff working on research and testing, and the Bureau has plans to at least initially report on the status of recommendation follow-up. However, the Bureau lacks a formal process for periodically assessing the status of follow-up, and thus may lack consistent data to report and a basis for knowing when to hold staff accountable for that follow-up. The Bureau does not have in place a mechanism for systematic periodic reporting on the status of follow-up—such as on its intranet or Internet pages. Nor does it have performance measures defined for measuring the extent of recommendation follow-up, such as the percentage implemented or the percent not followed up on within 12 months, which would both allow the Bureau to more-easily track and report progress in incorporating improvements and begin to systematically incentivize team 13 GAO, 2010 Census: Cost and Design Issues Need to be Addressed Soon, GAO-04-37 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 15, 2004). 14 GAO-11-193. Page 15 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning or individual performance that incorporates lessons learned in order to help build a more results-oriented culture. Research and testing project teams reported out on which recommendations they would be addressing within their projects, as required by Bureau timelines, and described their plans for future action on recommendations. Taking these further steps will help sustain progress in ensuring the Bureau takes advantage of lessons from prior experiences and insights. The Bureau is incorporating several key strategic workforce planning Bureau Is practices that address its objective of matching its managers, technical Incorporating Most experts, and workforce to the demands of the 2020 Census. Strategic workforce planning encourages agency managers and stakeholders to Key Strategic systematically consider what is to be done, when and how it will be done, Workforce Planning what skills will be needed, and how to gauge progress and results, Practices but Does helping to avoid staffing problems the Bureau has experienced in the past. For example, a Bureau assessment of its experience with 2010 Not Yet Monitor Census observed that areas such as the management of large programs Progress toward and projects, cost estimation, and sophisticated IT lacked staff with core skills and experience. Our prior work in human capital management has Workforce Goals identified key practices in effective strategic workforce planning, five of which are: 15 • identify current and future critical occupations, skills, and competencies and analyze workforce gaps, • develop current and future strategies tailored to address gaps and human capital conditions in critical skills and competencies that need attention, • involve top management, employees, and stakeholders in developing, communicating, and implementing the strategic workforce plan, • align workforce planning with strategic planning and budget formulation, and • monitor and evaluate progress toward achieving workforce planning and strategic goals. 15 GAO, Human Capital: Key Principles for Effective Strategic Workforce Planning, GAO-04-39 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 11, 2003) and Workforce Planning: Interior, EPA, and the Forest Service Should Strengthen Linkages to Their Strategic Plans and Improve Evaluation, GAO-10-413 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 31, 2010). We combined a sixth leading practice, “build capacity to support workforce strategies,” into these, to simplify presentation. Page 16 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning As figure 4 indicates, the Bureau is taking steps generally consistent with three of the five key strategic workforce planning leading practices for its planning of the 2020 Census, although the steps thus far are largely limited in scope to workforce planning for the second of the five 2020 Census phases—early research and testing. For example, the Bureau has begun to identify current and future critical occupations by piloting a skills and competency assessment of selected IT 2020 Census positions, including those for 2020 Census research and testing. In support of developing current and future strategies tailored to address workforce gaps that need attention, the Bureau has reviewed its available strategic hiring, retention, and other workforce flexibilities. In addition, top management has been actively engaged in communicating the strategic workforce plan, with the Bureau Director preparing staff for needed changes by speaking about it in town hall meetings and postings on his intranet blog. Page 17 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Figure 4: Bureau Generally Relied on Key Leading Practices to Carry Out Workforce Planning for Interactive graphic 2020 Census Directions: Roll over each Extent consistent bar to see more information regarding illustrative steps taken and illustrative steps remaining that contributed to the rating given. Ioccupations, D M evelop current and future dentify current and future critical strategies tailored to address gaps onitor and evaluate progress skills, and and human capital conditions in toward achieving workforce planning competencies and analyze critical skills and competencies that and strategic goals workforce gaps need attention Identify mission-critical occupations Develop reasonable human capital Assess progress to determine and competencies, which form the strategies and tools and align these whether workforce planning goals are basis for much of workforce planning. to eliminate gaps and improve the being met and identify the reasons for contribution of critical skills and any shortfalls. competencies. Generally consistent Generally consistent Not consistent Iemployees, nvolve top management, and other stakeholders A lign workforce planning with in developing, communicating, and strategic planning and budget implementing the strategic formulation workforce plan Involve top management, employees Align workforce and strategic plans and stakeholders in unique roles to with budget. design strategic workforce plans. Partially consistent Generally consistent Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Census Bureau information. Notes: Illustrative steps taken to date: GAO assessments based on Bureau steps taken as of April 10, 2012. Extent consistent: We determined that steps taken or planned were either “generally,” “partially,” or “not” consistent with respective practices. Print instructions To print text version of this graphic, go to appendix IV. Page 18 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Figure 4 also shows that the Bureau plans to take a number of steps over the next few months that are generally consistent with the key strategic workforce planning leading practices. For example, in support of the practice to analyze workforce gaps the Bureau plans to finalize in May its project plan detailing the steps, resources, and timeline for conducting its Bureau-wide skills gap and competency assessment that it will undertake later in 2012. To help develop current and future strategies, in June, the Bureau plans to identify which of its existing training courses can potentially help address gaps it expects it may identify, while in August, it plans to document how its skills gap and competency analyses will be updated and used during later census phases with target time- windows for later activity, including how it will align with budget formulation. The Bureau planned some of these steps in response to our discussions with its workforce planning officials. The Bureau’s early effort to analyze competencies has the potential to help it identify critical occupations and skills that will help it adjust to changes in technology, budget constraints, and other factors that alter the environment in which it operates. Top management is actively engaged in developing the workforce plan and is setting the overall direction for planning efforts. The Bureau’s plan to document when skills gap and competency analyses will be conducted for future 2020 Census phases will help the Bureau manage other supporting activity to ensure that this important workforce planning activity happens soon. Still, the Bureau could do more to implement its strategic workforce planning consistent with key leading practices. The Bureau has not yet determined its workforce goals from its skills gap and competency analyses or laid out how it will monitor, report, and evaluate progress in achieving them. According to the Bureau, it hopes to enable program managers to flexibly, and on-demand, obtain reports on the status and strategies targeted to their own goals and workforce needs. Identifying agency goals for this initiative and a vital few performance measures can help agency officials think through the scope, timing, and possible barriers to evaluating and implementing the resulting workforce plans, and the monitoring and evaluation itself can provide information for effective oversight by identifying performance shortfalls and appropriate corrective actions. Finally, the Bureau has traditionally obtained input on decennial technical, operational, and policy issues from a diverse group of stakeholders, but, according to Bureau officials, has not yet considered the role of external stakeholders in developing, communicating, and implementing its Page 19 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning workforce planning. External stakeholders with appropriate expertise and experience can play a useful role in supporting an agency with its workforce planning such as by serving as a sounding board for agency workforce initiatives. For example, academic institutions and their accreditation organizations are positioned to discuss both the direction the respective academic programs are headed and whether agency needs can be expected to be met by them. A panel of academics from universities with relevant expertise might provide a two-way forum for how to align future skills and competency needs for the agency workforce with the hiring pool that the academic institutions are helping to develop. Expanding discussions with traditional census advisory groups, such as those organized to tap professional organizations and diversity perspectives, may also provide insights and advice on recruiting, retaining, and developing staff. Identifying those external stakeholders who can provide insights to Bureau workforce planning challenges and reaching out to them could help the Bureau develop strategies to help meet its objective of having a workforce matched with the demands of the 2020 Census. The Bureau faces many challenges—internally and externally—in Conclusions preparing for a cost-effective 2020 Census, including transforming the Bureau’s internal organization; rethinking the way the Bureau plans for and executes decennial censuses; and assessing the skills and competencies of the Bureau’s workforce. Applying leading management practices in each of these areas of the Bureau’s preparation for the 2020 Census can help ensure that the Bureau addresses these challenges and delivers high-quality and timely results. Other areas of planning, such as IT investment management, that are outside the scope of our review will also require sustained attention. However, sustaining these efforts going forward, especially given the Director’s pending August 2012 departure and the Bureau’s historic issue of leadership continuity, will be a challenge. The Bureau is generally or partially following most leading practices in the management areas of organizational transformation, long-term project planning, and strategic workforce planning—positioning itself well during this early phase of planning for the 2020 Census. Much of the Bureau’s early progress is visible in its plans for additional activity over the coming months; equally important will be the need to finalize these plans and execute these activities in a timely manner to maintain the Bureau’s early momentum toward a cost-effective 2020 Census. Page 20 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning It will be important for the Bureau to take additional steps to further implement leading practices in each of the three management areas we reviewed. Reexamining its planned transformation activities in terms of resources allocated to them will help ensure that its organizational transformation team can prioritize and implement those activities, properly use supporting data to enhance those activities, or identify and mitigate risks to their implementation. The Bureau’s long-term planning will be aided by improvements in scheduling that will help to ensure the coordination, management, and resource allocation to activities as needed, and by a congressional outreach strategy that helps ensure stakeholders are informed of new census design elements and possible cost-quality trade-offs. In addition, improvements in the assessment and reporting on the Bureau’s recommendation follow-up system will help the Bureau get the best return on that investment. Finally, for strategic workforce planning, it will be important that the Bureau set agency workforce goals so that it can determine how to monitor, report, and evaluate its progress toward achieving those goals. Moving forward, identifying external stakeholders with expertise and experience in workforce planning challenges such as recruitment and soliciting feedback from them will help the Bureau develop strategies to meet its objective of having a workforce matched with the demands of the 2020 Census. Implementing these remaining leading practices can help the Bureau stay on track for a well-planned, well-executed 2020 Census. We recommend that the Secretary of Commerce require the Under Recommendations for Secretary for Economic Affairs who oversees the Economics and Executive Action Statistics Administration, as well as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, to take the following six actions to improve the Bureau’s process of organizational transformation, long-term planning, and strategic workforce planning for the 2020 Census, and thus better position the Bureau to carry out a cost-effective decennial census: Organizational Transformation 1. In order to ensure the Bureau’s decennial organizational transformation is sustained and successful, examine the alignment between the levels of activity planned for the transformation and the resources dedicated to their implementation, and adjust the activity and resources as appropriate. Page 21 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Long-term Planning 2. In order to ensure prioritization and timely completion of all necessary research and testing efforts, as well as timely transition to later 2020 Census phases, develop and implement a long-term planning schedule that includes key milestones and deadlines, including • deadlines for decisions that directly affect activity in later 2020 Census phases; • a schedule for creating, revising, or updating governance, program management, and system engineering and architecture plans to be used in later 2020 Census phases beyond research and testing; and • expected times of delivery for Bureau-wide enterprise tools, processes, and standards that 2020 Census planning would be expected to use. 3. In order to inform congressional decision-making related to the 2020 Census, develop and implement an effective congressional outreach strategy, particularly on new design elements the Bureau is researching and considering as well as on cost-quality trade-offs of potential design decisions. 4. In order to improve the Bureau’s process for following up on Bureau and oversight agencies’ recommendations to improve the 2020 Census, • assess the status of recommendation follow-up at regular intervals, such as every 12 months; and • periodically report on the status of recommendation follow-up— such as on the Bureau’s intranet or Internet pages Strategic Workforce Planning 5. In order to help the Bureau identify performance shortfalls and appropriate corrective actions in achieving its strategic workforce planning goals, set agency workforce planning goals, and determine how the Bureau will monitor, report, and evaluate its progress toward achieving those goals. 6. In order to help the Bureau develop strategies to meet its objective of having a workforce matched with the demands of the 2020 Census, identify external stakeholders whose expertise and experience can provide insights to Bureau workforce planning challenges, such as recruitment, and reach out to them and incorporate their input as appropriate. Page 22 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning We provided a draft of this report to the Secretary of Commerce on April Agency Comments 26, 2012 and received the department’s written comments on May 11, and Our Evaluation 2012. The comments are reprinted in appendix VI. The Department of Commerce concurred with our findings and recommendations. In its comments, the department provided additional context on the role that the Bureau’s Human Resources Division plays handling strategic workforce planning for the 2020 Census. We have included this additional information in the background section of the report where we first discuss the assessment and analysis initiative. Also, the department noted that after it had received our draft report, the Bureau had added additional staff and contractor support to its organizational transformation activities. We have included this additional information in the report where we discuss the organizational transformation leading practices. The Bureau’s action appears responsive to our recommendation, and we will further assess this as part of our routine recommendation follow-up process. We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Commerce, the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, and interested congressional committees. The report also is available at no charge on GAO’s website at http://www.gao.gov. If you have any questions about this report please contact me at (202) 512-2757 or email@example.com. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. The GAO staff that made key contributions to this report is listed in appendix VII. Robert Goldenkoff Director Strategic Issues Page 23 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning List of Requesters The Honorable Thomas R. Carper Chairman The Honorable Scott Brown Ranking Member Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs United States Senate The Honorable Danny K. Davis Ranking Member Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census, and the National Archives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform House of Representatives Page 24 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology Methodology The objectives of our review were to assess the extent to which the U.S. Census Bureau’s (Bureau) 2020 Directorate and its Research and Planning Office are taking steps consistent with leading practices for organizational transformation, long-term project planning, and strategic workforce planning. For each of these three management areas, we conducted a literature review to develop the appropriate leading practices that should be considered in our review. We identified leading practices from the following sources: • Organizational Transformation: Our prior report for federal agencies to consider as they seek to transform their culture in response to governance challenges. 1 • Long-term project planning: Our evaluation of the Bureau’s early project-planning efforts of the 2010 Census 2 and information from the Software Engineering Institute. 3 • Strategic workforce planning: Our two prior reports 4 that developed the practices, and on selected material from the GAO Management Diagnostic Tool, 5 the Project Management Institute, 6 and the Office of 1 GAO, Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational Transformations (GAO-03-669) (Washington, D.C.: July 2, 2003). Not all of the leading practices from this report were used because some were not germane to the Bureau. 2 GAO, 2010 Census: Cost and Design Issues Need to Be Addressed Soon, GAO-04-37 (Washington, D.C.: Jan, 15, 2004). 3 Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI), recognized for its expertise in software processes, has developed models and methods that define and determine organizations’ software process maturity and has been used by GAO in the past to develop leading practices. 4 GAO, Human Capital: Key Principles for Effective Strategic Workforce Planning, GAO-04-39 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 11, 2003) and Workforce Planning: Interior, EPA, and the Forest Service Should Strengthen Linkages to Their Strategic Plans and Improve Evaluation, GAO-10-413 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 31, 2010). 5 GAO developed the Management Diagnostic Survey as a tool that could be used by executive agencies and GAO to identify management function areas in which an agency is performing well or may have opportunity to better implement leading management practices. The result can assist GAO to determine areas for additional follow-up work and can help agency leaders identify management improvement opportunities. From this tool, we used information pertaining to human capital. 6 The Project Management Institute purpose is to advance the project-management profession through standards and certifications, collaborative communities, research, and professional-development opportunities. Page 25 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology Personnel Management’s Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework (HCAAF). 7 To assess the extent to which the Bureau implemented the practices, we reviewed numerous Bureau documents pertaining to the early planning of the 2020 Census. These generally consisted of high-level strategic framework documents, strategies and plans pertaining to specific elements of the 2020 Census, planning memorandums, charters for key steering groups, and timelines for execution. Many of these documents were considered draft, but Bureau officials said were sufficiently developed for purposes of our review. We accessed the Bureau’s intranet to see what information it provides employees about the topics of our research objectives. We also obtained performance contracts of Senior Executive Service officials to evaluate the extent to which performance expectations include 2020 Census planning goals. We interviewed Bureau officials responsible for the early planning of the 2020 Census, including: the Bureau Director; the 2020 Directorate’s Research and Planning Office; the Associate Director for Communications; and senior officials in the Human Resource Division. We also met with members of the 2020 Census Directorate’s Organizational Change Management Council, which is charged with effectively managing the delivery of the new organization design and providing executive guidance, support, and resolution of the transformation. From our review of documents and interviews with all agency officials, we determined the extent to which each leading practice has been implemented using a scale of “generally consistent,” “partially consistent,” and “not consistent.” A practice was considered “generally consistent” when the evidence demonstrated the Bureau generally fulfilled more than half the description of the practice. A practice was considered “partially consistent” when the evidence demonstrated some meaningful actions had been taken, but less than half the description of the practice was fulfilled. A practice was considered “not consistent” when the evidence indicated the practice was not addressed because either no action was yet taken or the actions that were taken were minimal or not effective. 7 The Office of Personnel Management’s HCAAF, developed in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget and GAO, defines standards for success for the federal government and can serve as a road map for human capital transformation. Page 26 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology We reached our assessments by having the primary team members determine their collective opinion and then sought validation by having another GAO subject-matter specialist with sufficient familiarity with the material use professional judgment and develop an independent assessment. In all circumstances, the coders collaborated to discuss any differences, which resulted in developing a consensus assessment. Page 27 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix II: Bureau Is Using Selected Key Appendix II: Bureau Is Using Selected Key Practices to Carry Out Organizational Transformation for 2020 Census Directorate Practices to Carry Out Organizational (Text for Interactive Fig. 2) Transformation for 2020 Census Directorate (Text for Interactive Fig. 2) Extent steps are Illustrative steps taken to Illustrative steps planned consistent with a b Key practice Description date (expected date) practice Ensure top leadership • Define and articulate • Issued strategic plan • Identify indicators of Generally drives the a compelling reason for 2020 Census with success (May 2012). consistent transformation. for change. annual updates of a • Document rationale, business plan. expected benefits, • Included rationale, and definition of benefits, and success. description of factors that will contribute to success in strategy documents. • Chartered an organizational change management council comprising Bureau- wide executives and senior managers. Focus on a key set of • Embed core values in • Created change • Incorporate key Generally principles and priorities every aspect of the management strategy principles for the consistent at the outset of the organization to documents explicitly transformation in transformation. reinforce the new referring to 2020 planned activity for culture. Census goals and interacting with staff guiding principles. (July 2012). • Established eight guiding principles for the transformation. Set implementation • Make public • Created high-level • Identify measures for Generally goals and a timeline to implementation goals transformation timeline monitoring progress of consistent build momentum and and timeline. that includes transformation (May show progress. • Monitor employee milestones for 2012). attitudes and take governance, • Begin public appropriate action. communication and dissemination of goals education, and and timelines (July transition activities. 2012). • Created draft strategy • Finalize comprehensive documents that include plan for engaging staff targets for achieving and stakeholders in “quick wins,” periodic determining what the reporting, and outreach new organization should events to build be (June 2012). momentum. • Finalize transition timeline subject to approval of proposed changes (February 2013). Page 28 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix II: Bureau Is Using Selected Key Practices to Carry Out Organizational Transformation for 2020 Census Directorate (Text for Interactive Fig. 2) Extent steps are Illustrative steps taken to Illustrative steps planned consistent with a b Key practice Description date (expected date) practice Dedicate an • Establish networks to • Designated an • Include expectations Partially consistent implementation team to support “organizational change within performance Additional Step manage the implementation team. manager” responsible plans of senior Needed transformation process. • Select high- for day-to-day managers below organizational change executive level to Examine sufficiency performing team of resources of members. activities. support transformation (October 2012). implementation team. Involve employees to • Use employee teams. • Created a • Convene and enlist Generally obtain their ideas and • Incorporate employee transformation plan support of a group of consistent gain their ownership for feedback. that specifies a series managers across every the transformation. of workshops, focus affected division and • Delegate authority to groups, and other branch (May 2012). appropriate employee-centered organizational levels. • Convene town hall processes. meetings to roll out strategy to employees (June 2012). • Implement a vehicle to obtain anonymous employee ideas and feedback on proposals (June 2012). • Begin series of workshops and focus groups (July 2012). • Make details available to staff on specific changes to be made (February 2013). Establish a • Communicate early • Discussed vision for • Develop comprehensive Generally communication strategy and often. transformation at unit communication strategy consistent to create shared • Ensure message staff meetings, fielding (May 2012). expectations and report consistency. questions and • Create and maintain an related progress. comments. intranet site to provide • Encourage two-way communication. • Created an official clearing communication team to house of information, • Provide information to support organizational answers to frequently meet employee change management. asked questions, and needs. points of contact for all staff (June 2012). • Communicate details about specific future changes being planned (February 2013). Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Census Bureau information. a As of April 10, 2012. b We determined that steps taken or planned were either “generally,” “partially,” or “not” consistent with respective practices. Page 29 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix III: Bureau Has Developed a High- Appendix III: Bureau Has Developed a High- Level Framework Generally Using Key Leading Practices for Planning Long-Term Complex Level Framework Generally Using Key Leading Projects (Text for Interactive Fig. 3) Practices for Planning Long-Term Complex Projects (Text for Interactive Fig. 3) Illustrative steps Illustrative steps taken to planned (expected Extent steps are a b Key practice Description date date) consistent with practice Develop a project Consider all phases of • In a series of eight • Finalize detailed Partially consistent plan. the project and have memos, laid out a schedule of all Additional steps needed clear and measurable framework program goals; clearly state all documenting goals, management, • Document deadlines assumptions, assumptions, and systems and decisions affecting schedules, and timing of five broad engineering, later phases of 2020 deadlines; and identify phases for 2020 requirements, and Census. needed skills and Census with cost training activities • Document schedule for resources. estimate milestones (August 2012). updating or replacing tied to annual budget • Finalize project current management request submissions. plans for all documents for later • Maintained high-level research and testing phases of 2020 Census. schedule of activities projects begun in • Document timeline for for remaining four fiscal year 2012 delivering Bureau-wide phases. (August 2012). enterprise solutions. • Documented initial • Update program work requirements and management and interdependencies for systems engineering all fiscal year 2012 training materials to research and testing reflect finalized projects. processes (September 2012). Involve stakeholders. • Involve internal • Conducted 14 planning • Finalize Partially consistent and external workshops with internal communications Additional step needed stakeholders in the and external plan for informing decision-making stakeholders to identify and soliciting • Develop a plan for process. design options to feedback from staff effective outreach to explore. and stakeholders congress, specifically on • Focus on the sensitive research and highest priority • Presented high-level (September 2012). design issues such as stakeholder needs description of research privacy and cost-quality and mission goals. plans for selected trade-offs. technical areas to scientific and data user advisory groups. • Rechartered race and ethnicity advisory committees. Page 30 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix III: Bureau Has Developed a High- Level Framework Generally Using Key Leading Practices for Planning Long-Term Complex Projects (Text for Interactive Fig. 3) Illustrative steps Illustrative steps taken to planned (expected Extent steps are a b Key practice Description date date) consistent with practice Incorporate lessons • Evaluate past • Sought to avoid prior • Complete 2010 Partially consistent learned. performance and census planning evaluations critical Additional step needed capitalize on problems, such as for early research lessons learned to unreliable cost and testing • Recommendation improve estimates, fragmented (September 2012). follow-up process performance. and late planning, and requires additional steps not relying on evidence to ensure follow-up on • Includes the prior recommendations. processes required from such sources as to use project research and testing. information to • Involved former Bureau improve future executives in planning efforts. workshops. • Implemented a database for tracking action plans and status of prior recommendations. Analyze and mitigate • Identify, analyze, • Featured analyses of • Adjust 2020 Census Generally consistent risks. prioritize, and risks prominently in risk management document risks. early planning activity. processes to align Ideally, assess • Created 2020 Census with separate more than one research and testing Bureau-wide alternative. risk register, and processes being included risk in regular developed (August • Plan risk executive discussions. 2012). management— the • Risk management process of defining documents were how to conduct risk among the first to be management finalized. activities for a project. Monitor progress. • Identify • Ensured that individual • Begin issuing Generally consistent measurable research projects monthly status performance goals describe their own reports at the that describe and performance program level (May guide successful measures. 2012). planning. Collect performance data and report it to determine how well the goals are being achieved. Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Census Bureau information. a As of April 10, 2012. b We determined that steps taken or planned were either “generally,” “partially,” or “not” consistent with respective practices. Page 31 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix IV: Bureau Generally Relied on Key Appendix IV: Bureau Generally Relied on Key Leading Practices to Carry Out Workforce Planning for 2020 Census (Text for Interactive Leading Practices to Carry Out Workforce Fig. 4) Planning for 2020 Census (Text for Interactive Fig. 4) Extent steps are Illustrative steps taken Illustrative steps planned consistent with a b Key practice Description to date (expected date) practice Identify current and future • Identify mission- • Piloted skills and • Finalize project plan Generally consistent critical occupations, skills, critical occupations competency detailing the steps, and competencies and and competencies, assessment of resources, and timeline analyze workforce gaps. which form the selected IT positions for conducting Bureau- basis for much of including those for wide skills gap workforce planning. the second of five assessment (May 2020 Census 2012). phases. • Validate competency dictionary with subject- matter experts throughout Bureau (May 2012). • Begin Bureau-wide skills gap and competency assessment (September 2012). • Research and testing project teams finalize list of needed skills (August 2012). Develop current and future • Develop reasonable • Inventoried available • Finalize project plan Generally consistent strategies tailored to human capital strategic flexibilities. detailing the steps, address gaps and human strategies and tools resources, and timeline capital conditions in critical and align these to for conducting Bureau- skills and competencies eliminate gaps and wide skills gap that need attention. improve the assessment (May contribution of 2012). critical skills and • Identify existing competencies. training courses within Bureau to potentially address gaps (June 2012). Page 32 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix IV: Bureau Generally Relied on Key Leading Practices to Carry Out Workforce Planning for 2020 Census (Text for Interactive Fig. 4) Extent steps are Illustrative steps taken Illustrative steps planned consistent with a b Key practice Description to date (expected date) practice Monitor and evaluate • Assess progress to Not consistent progress toward achieving determine whether Missing steps workforce planning and workforce planning needed strategic goals. goals are being met and identify the • Develop process reasons for any and specific shortfalls. goals for monitoring, reporting, and evaluating Bureau’s progress toward workforce goals. • Begin reporting on Bureau’s progress toward workforce goals. Involve top management, • Involve top • Director spoke • Rely on employee Partially consistent employees, and other management, internally and focus groups to Missing step needed stakeholders in employees and externally about need validate competencies developing, stakeholders in for workforce (May 2012). • Identify external communicating, and unique active roles analyses to align with stakeholders and • Begin communicating begin outreach implementing the strategic to design strategic future strategies. to entire staff about workforce plan. workforce plans. on workforce • Bureau meets skills gap analyses. planning efforts. monthly with (June 2012). departmental officials on human capital initiatives. • Bureau offered specific professional development courses on the basis of recommendation of human capital team. Align workforce planning • Align workforce and • Human capital • Document how skills Generally consistent with strategic planning and strategic plans with management plan gap and competency budget formulation. budget. requires inputs from analyses will be budget and alignment updated and how it will with strategic plans. be used during later phases, including target time windows for later activity (August 2012). Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Census Bureau information. a As of April 10, 2012. b We determined that steps taken or planned were either “generally,” “partially,” or “not” consistent with respective practices. Page 33 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix V: List of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Appendix V: List of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Program Management Planning Documents Program Management Planning Documents Consistent with the leading practices of developing a project plan, and to help operationalize its high-level plan, the U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) has identified 19 specific management process areas from management literature for executing and controlling its research and testing projects for 2020 Census (see table 1). For many of these areas the Bureau has developed a management-strategy paper that typically includes standardized sections addressing links to strategic goals, performance measures, objectives, and strategies; standards and guidelines; roles and responsibilities; and key assumptions and risks. The Bureau is following up on each of these strategies with a more-detailed management- planning document that identifies specific methods and techniques the Bureau will use to implement the strategy as well as how the actions will link to the Bureau’s other broader strategic documents. In some areas, the Bureau is bypassing the strategy paper and has either produced or is planning to produce a finalized—or what the Bureau refers to as a “baselined”—plan. Table 1: Bureau’s Program Management Planning Documents Plan formalized a a Program management area Strategy issued (or estimated date) Risk Management May 2011 August 2011 b Strategic Plan September 2010 Acquisition and Sourcing June 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Budget Management Process May 2011 Fiscal year2012 Q4 Communication and Stakeholder November 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Engagement c Document Management Fiscal year 2012 Q3 d d Earned Value Management Implementation Governance October 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Human Capital Management November 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Integrated Program Control & June 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Performance Measurement Issue Management May 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Knowledge Management May 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Performance Management June 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Process Quality Assurance Management Fiscal year 2012 Q3 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Program Change Control Management May 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Requirements Engineering September 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Research and Testing November 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Page 34 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix V: List of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Program Management Planning Documents Plan formalized a a Program management area Strategy issued (or estimated date) Schedule Management May 2011 Fiscal year 2012 Q4 c Training (2012-2014) Fiscal year 2012 Q4 Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. a Status as of April 10, 2012 b No separate strategy document was developed for the 2020 Census Strategic Plan. c The Bureau is skipping the production of some strategies and simply issuing plans. d 2020 Census staff awaits resolution of Bureau-wide strategy and guidance before attempting to develop decennial-specific plans for using earned value management. Page 35 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix VI: Comments from the Appendix VI: Comments from the Department of Commerce Department of Commerce Note: Page and paragraph numbers in the draft report may differ from those in this report. Page 36 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix VI: Comments from the Department of Commerce Page 37 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Appendix VII: GAO Contact and Staff Appendix VII: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments Acknowledgments Robert Goldenkoff, (202) 512-2757 or firstname.lastname@example.org GAO Contact In addition to the contact named above, Ty Mitchell, Assistant Director; Staff James Cook; Elizabeth Curda; Jeff Demarco; Vijay D’Souza; Ron Fecso; Acknowledgments Geoff King; Andrea Levine; Steven Lozano; Signora May; Donna Miller; Janice Morrison; Melanie Papasian; Lisa Pearson; Cynthia Saunders; and Sarah Veale made key contributions to this report. Page 38 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning Related GAO Products Related GAO Products Decennial Census: Additional Actions Could Improve the Census Bureau’s Ability to Control Costs for the 2020 Census. GAO-12-80. Washington, D.C.: January 24, 2012. 2010 Census: Preliminary Lessons Learned Highlight the Need for Fundamental Reforms. GAO-11-496T. Washington, D.C., April 6, 2011. 2010 Census: Data Collection Operations Were Generally Completed as Planned, but Long-standing Challenges Suggest Need for Fundamental Reforms. GAO-11-193. Washington, D.C.: December 14, 2010. Workforce Planning: Interior, EPA, and the Forest Service Should Strengthen Linkages to Their Strategic Plans and Improve Evaluation. GAO-10-413. Washington, D.C.: March 31, 2010. Information Technology: Significant Problems of Critical Automation Program Contribute to Risks Facing 2010 Census. GAO-08-550T. Washington, D.C.: March 5, 2008. 2010 Census: Cost and Design Issues Need to Be Addressed Soon. GAO-04-37. Washington, D.C.: January 15, 2004. Human Capital: Key Principles for Effective Strategic Workforce Planning. GAO-04-39. Washington, D.C.: December 11, 2003. Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational Transformations. GAO-03-669. Washington, D.C.: July 2, 2003. High-Risk Series: Quick Reference Guide. GAO/HR-97-2. Washington, D.C.: February 1997. (450931) Page 39 GAO-12-626 2020 Census Early Planning GAO’s Mission The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal government for the American people. GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. 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2020 Census: Additional Steps Are Needed to Build on Early Planning
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-05-17.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)