oversight

1990 Census: Enhanced Oversight Should Strengthen Recruitment Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-04-13.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

GAO            Report to the Chairman, Committee on
               Post Office and Civil Service, House of
               Representatives


April   1990
               1990 CENSUS
               Enhanced Oversight
               Should Strengthen
               Recruitment Program
General   Government   Division

B-238316
April 13,lQQO
The Honorable William D. Ford
Chairman, Committee on Post Office
  and Civil Service
House of Representatives
Dear Mr. Chairman:

This report responds to the request that you forwarded from the former Chairman and
Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Censusand Population, HouseCommittee on
Post Office and Civil Service, that we monitor censuspersonnel issues.The report focuseson
the Bureau’s recruitment efforts during the 1989 development of its urban addresslist.
We are sending copies of this report to other appropriate congressionalcommittees; the
Secretary of Commerce;the Director, Bureau of the Census;and the Director, Office of
Management and Budget. Copies will also be made available to other interested parties upon
request.

The other major contributors to this report are listed in the appendix. If you have any
questions concerning this report, please contact me on 27643676.

Sincerely yours,




L. Nye Stevens
Director, Government Business
  Operations Issues
likecutive Summary


                      Hiring and retaining the 390,000 temporary employeesneededto com-
Purpose               plete the 1990 censusis a major managementchallenge for the Bureau
                      of the Census.A high quality workforce is important to ensuring the
                      successof the Nation’s most comprehensivedata-gathering project. Peak
                      censusemployment will occur from April to June with somehiring con-
                      tinuing until Septemberto complete critical censusoperations.

                      The Chairman, HouseCommittee on Post Office and Civil Service,
                      requested that GAO monitor censuspersonnel issues.This report focuses
                      on:
                  l   the progress the Bureau’s district offices have made in recruiting tempo-
                      rary employeesand

                  l   the adequacy of the preparations the Bureau has undertaken to ensure
                      that its district offices are ready to implement a recruitment program
                      for the census.

                      The Bureau’s 13 regional censuscenters are responsible for monitoring
Background            and guiding work in the district offices. For 1989 field activities, the
                      Bureau opened 109 of the 468 district offices it will use to do the census.
                      Precanvass,the Bureau’s development of its mailing list for urban areas
                      and the 1989 field activity with the largest workload and staff needs,
                      involved canvassingurban areas to check the accuracy and complete-
                      nessof address lists the Bureau purchased from commercial vendors.

                      Almost one-half of the Bureau’s district offices were unable to meet the
Resultsin Brief        1989 recruiting goal of four applicants for every field position during
                      precanvass.According to the Bureau, meeting recruiting goals is impor-
                      tant in providing managementwith the flexibility to select candidates
                      who will effectively complete their assignments.The Bureau generally
                      was able to overcome its recruiting difficulties and finish precanvasson
                      time. However, staff shortages in someoffices led to delays in complet-
                      ing precanvass,increased costs, and forced changesin the Bureau’s
                      staffing procedures.
                      Problems meeting 1989 recruiting goals also raise concernsabout the
                      Bureau’s ability to attract sufficient staff in 1990. Staffing shortages
                      may result in 1990 becauseapplicants may be less willing to acceptjobs
                      that require a far higher degreeof public contact than precanvass.Staff
                      shortages during the censuscould contribute to delays in completing


                      Page 2                                             GAO/GGD-9086   1990 Cemw
                             Executive   Summay




                             fieldwork and lead the Bureau to alter censusprocedures, as occurred in
                             1980, which could affect the quality of the census.
                             The Bureau confronts a number of obstaclesin attracting staff, such as
                             the temporary nature of censusjobs, but has made progress in develop-
                             ing a recruitment program. Additional recruiter training is needed,how-
                             ever, on how to manage a major recruitment effort. Local planning also
                             needsto better addressthe diverse demographic and economicchal-
                             lengesfacing the Bureau, such as how to competein high-employment
                             areas. The Bureau’s regions are taking actions to addressthese
                             problems, but headquarters needsto ensure that improvements will be
                             made sufficiently and consistently.


Principal Findings

Many Offices Had             Nationwide, 46.8 percent of the Bureau’s district offices had not met the
Recruitment Difficulties     Bureau’s recruiting goal of four qualified applicants for each position by
                             the time precanvassbegan.A large applicant pool provides managers
but Still Finished on Time   with discretion in choosingthe best candidates and also enablesthem to
                             replace employeeswho are not meeting production requirements.

                             Most offices were able to overcometheir recruiting difficulties during
                             the 1989 precanvass and hire sufficient staff to finish on time. However,
                             staff shortages were the major reason that about 14 percent, or 16 of the
                             109 district offices, finished precanvassat least a week behind schedule.
                             Staff shortages in someoffices during precanvassalso led the Bureau to
                             alter its goals and move staff between offices to complete work. The
                             Bureau believes local censustakers are important, especially early in a
                             field activity, to increasethe public acceptanceof the censusand
                             thereby increase the accuracy of censusdata. Finally, staff shortages
                             contributed to increased cost. Eleven of the 16 offices that completed
                             precanvasslate exceededtheir budgets by an averageof about 26 per-
                             cent. (Seepp. 12 through 19.)


Recruiting Difficulties      Recruiting problems have shown the Bureau that in many areas, as
During Precanvass Raise      many as six or eight applicants for each position may be neededto
                             ensure sufficient staff. Turnover and job refusal are expected to be high
Concerns for 1990            during the censusbecausethe censusrequires public contact to gather
                             data.


                             Page 3                                             GAO/GGD-w)BS   1BBO Cenaua
                             Edcutlve   Summmy




                             The Bureau faces a number of obstaclesin recruiting, such as the degree
                             of interaction with the public required by censusjobs; the short-term
                             nature of censusemployment; and high crime rates, which may make
                             applicants fearful of working in someneighborhoods. Well-designed
                             recruitment programs cannot guarantee that the Bureau will have suffi-
                             cient staff, but they are important in minimizing the effects of these
                             obstacles.In addition, other factors that were not available for pre-
                             canvass,including the Bureau’s geographic wages and the high level of
                             publicity that accompaniesa decennial census,should help recruitment
                             during the census.(Seepp. 19 through 24.)


Improved Recruiter           Limited recruiter training and planning contributed to the uneven suc-
Training and Recruitment     cessof the Bureau’s 1989 recruitment efforts. The Bureau found that
                             recruiters neededtraining on planning, managing, and monitoring a
Planning Needed for the      major recruitment effort.
Census
                             The Bureau has taken actions to overcomethese limitations with its
                             1989 recruitment program. For example, Bureau officials said they
                             hired individuals with stronger management abilities for the remaining
                             district offices and directed the regions to expand recruiter training. The
                             regions also are enhancing the recruitment planning for the district
                             offices.

                             Bureau headquarters is not systematically reviewing regional recruit-
                             ment efforts to ensure that recruiters-are receiving the neededtraining
                             and planning support. Bureau headquarters reviews weekly reports that
                             show the extent to which offices have met recruiting goals. These
                             reports however, do not document the reasonsoffices are having
                             recruiting problems. GAO agreeswith the Bureau that its regions are in
                             the best position to design their own recruitment programs. However,
                             the Bureau could review regional training and recruitment plans devel-
                             oped for the district offices to ensure that they adequately cover key
                             issues.(Seepp. 24 through 30.)

                                 recommendsthat the Director, Bureau of the Census,direct head-
Recommendation               GAO
                             quarters staff to assumea more proactive role in monitoring the regions’
                             managementof field recruitment efforts by
           ”


                           . assuring that the recruiter training the regions are providing addresses
                             the limitations identified during 1989, particularly in managing a
                             recruiting effort; and


                             Page 4
                    Executive   summary




                  9 reviewing the planning efforts the regions are establishing for their dis-
                    trict offices to ensure plans account for the diverse recruiting challenges
                    confronting the Bureau’s district offices.

                        obtained oral comments on a draft of this report from the Bureau.
Agency Comments     GAO
                    Bureau officials agreed with GAO'S recommendation but said the draft
                    gave insufficient attention to the improvements the Bureau has made in
                    implementing its recruitment program since the 1980 census.
                    GAO   agreesthat the Bureau has made major improvements for the 1990
                    censusthat should assist in recruiting staff. However, the Bureau’s pro-
                    gress since 1980 does not mean that censusrecruiting will be without
                    difficulty. For example, the Bureau did not meet its milestone to achieve
                    60 percent of its 1990 recruiting goal by March 2,199O. Overall, the
                    Bureau met about 34 percent of its goal by that date. According to the
                    Bureau, almost 86 percent of its district offices did not meet the 60 per-
                    cent goal.




                   Page5
                                                                                                       --.-
Contents


Executive Summary
Chapter 1
Introduction                  Objectives,Scope,and Methodology

Chapter 2                                                                                                12
Recruiting Critical to        Many Offices Did Not Meet PrecanvassRecruiting Goals
                                 but Still Finished on Schedule
                                                                                                         12
SuccessfulCensus              Recruiting Difficulties During PrecanvassRaise Concerns                    19
                                 for 1990

Chapter 3                                                                                                22
Enhanced    Oversight    of   Actions Taken to Address Recruitment ObstaclesShould                       23
                                  Help CensusStaffing Efforts
Field Recruitment             Recruiter Training Limited in 1989 but Improvements                        24
Efforts Needed                    Made for the 1990 Census
                              Limited Oversight Contributed to Poor Recruitment                          27
                                  Planning
                              Conclusion and Recommendation                                             30
                              Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                        30

Appendix                      Major Contributors to This Report                                         34

Figures                       Figure 1.1: Number of District Offices Opening for 1990                     9
                                  Activities Increasing Significantly
                              Figure 1.2: Enumerator Staffing Will Escalate                              10
                                  Dramatically for 1990
                              Figure 2.1: District Offices Had Mixed SuccessMeeting                      14
                                  Recruiting Goals
                              Figure 2.2: Late Offices Experienced Significant Difficulty                16
                                  Meeting Recruiting Goals
                              Figure 2.3: SomeLate Offices ExceededPrecanvass                            18
                                  Budgets
                              Figure 2.4: Number of Applicants to Be Recruited                           19
                                  IncreasesSignificantly If Goals Are Expanded




                              Page 6                                              GAO/GGD4085   1990 Ceneus
Y




    Page 7
Chapter 1
Introduction


               Acquiring and retaining the 390,000 temporary employeesneededto
               complete the 1990 decennial censusis one of the Bureau of the Census’
               major managementchallenges.Peak employment for the censuswill
               occur from April to June with somehiring continuing until September
               1990. In previous decennial censuses,the Bureau’s difficulties in recruit-
               ing and retaining employeesin somegeographic areaa contributed to
               delays and increased costs.We have reported that the Bureau’s historic
               difficulties in hiring and retaining temporary employeeshave continued
               during the 1990 censuscycle.’ For example, in 1988, when the Bureau
               developed much of the suburban and rural addresslist it will use in
               1990, about 28 percent of the areas reported problems in meeting
               recruiting and staffing goals.
               The Bureau completed several major field activities in 1989 related to
               the development of its censusaddresslist. As someof the final field
               activities before the actual census,these activities provided an impor-
               tant indication of the staffing situation the Bureau may face in 1990.
               The development of the Bureau’s addresslist for urban areas, known as
               precanvass,comprised the largest workload and personnel requirements
               of the 1989 field activities. The Bureau hired censusworkers, known as
               enumerators, to canvassneighborhoods to verify the completenessand
               accuracy of commercial addresslists it had purchased. The Bureau
               hired almost 20,000 enumerators to canvass66 million households dur-
               ing precanvass,or more than one-half of the Nation’s estimated 106 mil-
               lion households.

               The successof precanvassis important not only in providing an accu-
               rate urban address list for 1990 but also as a key test of the Bureau’s
               preparations to attract the large number of employeesneededfor the
               census.Recruiters in the Bureau’s 13 regional censuscenters are respon-
               sible for designing and implementing a regional recruiting program and
               for guiding, assisting, and monitoring recruitment efforts in the
               Bureau’s district offices. Each district office has a recruiter who is
               responsible for seeking applicants for the office’s nonmanagement
               positions.

               The 109 district offices opened for precanvassand other 1989 field
               activities, represented the Bureau’s first attempt during the 1990 census
               cycle to manage work through a national network of district offices.
               Earlier 1990 censuscycle operations, such as the 1988 dress rehearsal,

               ’ 1990 CMsus: Delays in Completing the Address List for Suburban and Rural Areas (GAO/
               CiGD-S9-74, July 1989).



               Page 8                                                             GAO/GGD9O86      1!390 Ceneus
                                         Chapter 1
                                         Introduction




                                         either were done in limited geographic areas or were managedfrom the
                                         regional censuscenters. In 1990, the district offices will be responsible
                                         for completing the field enumeration and for hiring the hundreds of
                                         thousands of enumerators to do censusfieldwork. In most cases,the
                                         entire district office managementstaff, like the field employeesthey
                                         manage,are temporary employeeshired only for the 1990 census.

                                         Precanvasswas an important test but is not completely projectable to
                                         the censusbecausethe actual censuswill be a much more labor-inten-
                                         sive operation. As shown in figures 1.1 and 1.2, the Bureau is opening an
                                         additional 349 district offices, for a total of 468, to do its enumeration
                                         work in 1990. The Bureau hired almost 20,000 enumerators for pre-
                                         canvassin 1989. Nonresponsefollow-up in 1990, during which enumera-
                                         tors will visit households that did not return censusquestionnaires, is
                                         the Bureau’s most labor-intensive censusactivity. The Bureau projects it
                                         will need to fill about 133,000 enumerator positions for nonresponsefol-
                                         low-up.

Flgure 1.1: Number of District Offices
Openlng for 1990 Activities Increasing
Slgnlficantly                            500    District Dffices




                                         Page 9                                             GAO/GGD-9086   1990 Cenaw
                                         chapter 1
                                         Mroduction




Figure 1.2: Enumerator Staff Ing Will
Escalate Dramatically for 1990
                                         200    Thousands of Enumeratola




                                         150




                                        Census Activity



                                         Note: 1989 precanvass shows actual number of enumerators hired. 1990 nonresponse follow-up shows
                                         projected enumerator staffing.


                                        The Chairman, House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, for-
Objectives,Scope,and                    warded a request by the former Chairman and Ranking Minority Mem-
Methodology                             ber, Subcommittee on Censusand Population, House Committee on Post
                                        Office and Civil Service, that we monitor censuspersonnel issues.We
                                        used the Bureau’s 1989 precanvassas a casestudy of the Bureau’s prep-
                                        arations for 1990, since precanvassis one of the Bureau’s last major
                                        field activities before the census.Specifically, the objectives of our work
                                        were to assess(1) the progress the Bureau’s district offices made in
                                        recruiting field staff for precanvassand (2) the adequacy of the prepa-
                                        rations the Bureau has undertaken to ensure that its district offices are
                                        ready to implement a recruitment program to attract the several hun-
                                        dred employeeseach office will need for the census.




                                        Page 10                                                              GAO/GGD-90-66    1990 Census
chaptm 1
Intmduction




To meet the first objective, we reviewed cost, progress, and recruitment
data reflected in reports produced by the Bureau’s managementinfor-
mation system. The reports we examined are generated weekly by
Bureau headquarters from information put into the system by the dis-
trict offices. Bureau headquarters usesthese reports to monitor and
manage censusfield activities. These reports do not document the rea-
sonsthat offices are having recruiting problems. We did not assessthe
reliability of the information we received from the Bureau’s manage-
ment information system. We also did not evaluate the validity of the
recruitment goals established by the Bureau for its field activities.

To meet the secondobjective, we reviewed recruiting reports prepared
by the regional offices, field observation reports written by headquar-
ters staff, and personnel manuals. We also interviewed officials in
Bureau headquarters and in each of the Bureau’s 13 regional censuscen-
ters to identify policies and procedures for recruiting temporary decen-
nial censusfield employees.We reviewed historical documents and our
work on the 1980 decennial censusto identify the Bureau’s recruiting
efforts and difficulties in previous censuses.
We visited 16 district offices and two regional censuscenters-New
York and Los Angeles-for detailed work to assessfurther the develop-
ment and implementation of field recruitment efforts. We interviewed
district office managers, assistant managers,and recruiters about their
offices’ experiencesin recruiting in 1989 and in preparing for 1990.

These regions were selectedbecausethe Bureau anticipates that it will
experience difficulties recruiting sufficient staff in parts of these
regions in 1990. These regions were also selectedbecauseof their signifi-
cant precanvassworkload and expected workload in 1990. The New
York and Los Angeles regions accounted for about 18 percent of the
planned national precanvassworkload and staff requirements. The
results of our work in these regions cannot be projected to other regions.

Our work was done between June and October 1989, in accordancewith
generally acceptedgovernment auditing standards. The Bureau of the
Censusprovided oral comments on this report. These comments are
presented and evaluated in chapter 3.




Page 11                                            GAO/GGD-9085   1990 Censm
Chapter 2

l!kcruiti.ng Critical to SuccessfulCensus


                       Many of the Bureau’s district offices did not reach the national recruit-
                       ing goal of four qualified applicants for each position during precanvass.
                       Despite their recruiting difficulties, most offices were able to hire a suf-
                       ficient number of staff and were able to complete precanvasson time.
                       However, staff shortages in someoffices contributed to delays in com-
                       pleting fieldwork and changesin precanvassprocedures. If staff
                       shortages and delays are widespread during the actual census,they
                       could affect data quality and increase costs.
                       The inability of many offices to meet 1989 recruiting goals raises con-
                       cerns about the Bureau’s ability to attract sufficient staff during the
                       actual census,which is a much more labor-intensive activity. A success-
                       ful recruiting effort is important in providing managerswith flexibility
                       to hire staff that will complete their assignmentsmost effectively,
                       according to the Bureau. In addition, recruiting difficulties during the
                       actual censuscould result in staff shortages and delays in completing
                       censusoperations, as occurred in 1980, which could impair data quality.


Many Offices Did Not   To ensure that sufficient staff would be available when needed,the
                       Bureau established a national recruiting goal for 1989 of four qualified
Meet Precanvass        applicants for each position at peak censusactivities.1 Temporary posi-
Recruiting Goalsbut    tions generally last from a few days to several weeks. In the caseof
                       precanvass,fieldwork was scheduledto last 30 days.
Still F’inishedon
Schedule               Meeting recruiting goals is important in providing managementwith the
                       discretion to select candidates who will complete their assignmentsmost
                       effectively. A large applicant pool also provides the Bureau with greater
                       opportunity to releaseemployeeswho are not meeting production
                       requirements and replace them with more able individuals. In 1980,
                       managers’ flexibility in making hiring selectionswas restricted in some
                       offices becauseof a limited number of applicants. The Bureau’s ability
                       to identify and select employeeswho will work most effectively will
                       have an impact on the quality and cost of the 1990 census.
                       Meeting recruiting goals is also important becausethe Bureau has found
                       that high employee turnover and job refusal rates require that it recruit
                       several applicants for each position. Bureau officials said that census
                       field activities consistently have suffered from high turnover rates.


                       ‘The number of staff positions and thus the number of individuals to recruit is continuously adjusted
                       during an activity on the basis of updated workload information.



                       Page 12                                                               GAO/GGD-9085 19fN Cenm~
Chapter 2
aecnlltlng critical   to SucceseN   cen8ua




Job refusal is also a problem becausethe Bureau must typically begin
soliciting applications and testing applicants well before a field activity
begins. For example, applicant testing for 1990 positions is scheduledto
begin about 2 months before the jobs becomeavailable. The Bureau
faces a difficult decision on when to begin testing. On the one hand, the
Bureau must begin testing early to ensure that a sufficient applicant
baseexists when hiring begins. On the other hand, however, early test-
ing results in many applicants either losing interest or finding other
employment by the time the Bureau is ready to hire, according to
Bureau officials. During precanvass,the New York region’s Northwest
Brooklyn district office went through a baseof 900 applicants to hire
176 precanvassenumerators. The Los Angeles region noted that someof
its district offices had to contact an averageof eight applicants for each
position due to high refusal rates.

Many offices nationwide were unable to meet the Bureau’s recruiting
goal during precanvass.Figure 2.1 shows the extent to which district
offices reported that they met recruiting goals at the beginning of pre-
canvassand at two precanvassmilestones-completing fieldwork and
finishing all district office precanvassactivities. About 46.8 percent of
the district offices reported they had not met their recruiting goal by the
time precanvassbegan.At none of the three points did more than 66.1
percent of the offices report meeting the goal. About 63 percent of those
offices that had not met their goal when precanvassbegan had less than
three applicants for each position.




Page 13                                             GAO/GGD9@85   1930 Census
                                         chapter 2
                                         Reenlltlng critical   to sueeesr3ful censlle




Flgure 2.1: Diotrlct Offlcer Had Mixed
8uccerr M6etlng Recruiting Qoala
                                         100    Porwnt Mwtlng CJoal

                                          90




                                         Sources: Bureau Management Information System reports for May 15, June 27, and July 10, 1989.
                                         Eleven of the 109 offices did not submit data for the July 10 report.


                                         Most district offices that did not meet recruiting goals were able to over-
                                         cometheir recruiting difficulties and hire enough staff to finish pre-
                                         canvasson time. Overall, 86 percent, or 94 of the 109 district offices,
                                         finished precanvasswithin at least 1 week of the scheduleddates
                                         despite problems meeting recruiting goals. The 16 offices that finished
                                         the 8-week operation at least a week late generally completed work
                                         within 2 weeks of the scheduled end of precanvass2




                                         ‘%ifteen offices completed precanvass at least 1 week late. These offices were: Jersey City, Newark,
                                         Trenton, Germantown, Norristown, Deptford, and Cheater in the Philadelphia region; North Miami,
                                         South Dade, Atlanta, and Jacksonville in the Atlanta region; White Plains and Hempstead in the New
                                         York region; Worcester in the Boston region; and Oakland in the Detroit region.



                                         Page 14                                                               GA0/GGMO-65       1990 Ceneus
                           Chapter 2
                           Recrultlng critical   to su-ful   (zknume




                           Greater than anticipated enumerator productivity was a major factor
                           that assistedthe Bureau in overcoming staff shortages and in complet-
                           ing precanvassgenerally on time. Enumerator productivity rates nation-
                           wide averaged 10.6 percent above what had been expected. More
                           specifically, productivity in the 36 offices that reported they had not
                           met their recruiting goal at the scheduledend of precanvassbut still
                           finished on time, averaged about 13 percent above expected rates.3
                           While higher than expected productivity helped the Bureau to overcome
                           staff shortages and to finish precanvasson time, the Bureau cannot be
                           certain its productivity rates during the actual censuswill be higher
                           than expected becauseof the basic difference between precanvassand
                           the census,according to the Bureau.


Staff Shortages            Staff shortages were a major reason that 16 offices did not complete
Contributed to Delays in   precanvasson schedule,according to Bureau officials. Only 3 of the 15
                           offices, or 20 percent, reported meeting their recruiting goal when pre-
Completing Fieldwork       canvassbegan compared with about 68.6 percent of the offices that
                           completed precanvasson time. Six of the offices, or 40 percent, that did
                           not finish on time reported they met the recruiting goal when pre-
                           canvasswas scheduledto end, as shown in figure 2.2.




                           3As noted in figure 2.1,ll offices did not submit data for the management information report follow-
                           ing the scheduled end of precanvass.



                           Page 15                                                               GAO/GGlMO85       1220 C!ensua
                                             chapter    2
                                             Recllltm       critical   to succesefuI   cellsue




Figure 2.2: Late Off leer Experienced
Slgniflcant Dlff lculty Meeting Recrultlng
                                             loo    PoKmll Ydng         &A
Goal8




                                              60




                                             Sources: Bureau Management Information System reports for May 15, June 27, and July 10, 1989.




Staff Shortages Led to                       Staff shortages in someoffices during precanvassforced the Bureau to
Changes in Precanvass                        compromise its goals of providing adequate enumerator training and hir-
                                             ing a local workforce. If widespread during the actual censusin 1990,
Procedures                                   these compromisesmay reduce the quality of censusdata. For example,
                                             to complete fieldwork, the Bureau moved staff from district offices that
                                             had completed work into areas that were experiencing severestaff
                                             shortages. Enumerators from areas where work had been completed in
                                             the Philadelphia region were brought into the Newark and Jersey City
                                             district offices to assist with precanvass.Enumerators were also moved
                                             in the New York region, where staff from four district offices assisted
                                             with precanvassin White Plains. In the Los Angeles region, field staff
                                             from four district offices were used to complete precanvasson schedule
                                             in Pasadena.




                                             Page 16                                                              GAO/GGD9066      1990 ~nsus
                           chapter 2
                           It.8mdnng critical to succeel3fulcensus




                           Staff shortages, which force the Bureau to use enumerators from one
                           area to take the censusin another, detract from a key censusgoal, espe-
                           cially early in a field activity, to enumerate communities with individu-
                           als who are familiar with the neighborhoods. The Bureau believes that
                           local enumerators are important to increasedpublic acceptanceof the
                           censusand thereby improve the accuracy of censusdata. Using local
                           enumerators is less important at the end of a field activity when only a
                           few casesremain to be enumerated, according to Bureau officials. These
                           officials said that in areas where the Bureau experiencesstaff shortages
                           at the end of a field activity, moving in the best available enumerators
                           from adjoining areas enablesthe Bureau to complete the remaining field-
                           work quickly and with high quality.
                           Another change made to overcome staff shortages and complete field-
                           work on schedule was to reduce the time allotted for enumerator train-
                           ing in somecases.For example, in two of the New York region’s eight
                           district offices-White Plains and Southeast Queens-staff shortages
                           led managers to reduce enumerator training from 2 days to 1 to get
                           newly hired staff working as soon as possible. White Plains did not fin-
                           ish precanvasson schedule even with the reduced training.

                           While we did not evaluate the extent to which reduced time for training
                           affected the quality of precanvassin those offices, New York region dis-
                           trict office officials believe that training should not be reduced. One sug-
                           gestion made at a meeting of the assistant managers for field operations
                           for the New York region’s district offices, was to increase enumerator
                           training from the scheduled 2 days to 3 days becausemany of the
                           region’s enumerators were not trained sufficiently to do the job
                           properly.


Staffing Shortages         Staff shortages and delays in completing fieldwork also contributed to
Contributed to Increased   increased precanvasscosts.For example, assigning enumerators to tem-
                           porary duty in other district offices is costly becauseadditional mileage
costs                      and, in somecases,per diem expensesmust be paid. At the Pasadena
                           district office, the only office we visited where the information was
                           readily available, per diem costs for enumerators moved in from other
                           areas totaled about 6 percent of that office’s field payroll costs as of
                           August 12,1989, or about $13,300. Per diem expenseswere also
                           incurred for enumerators from the Trenton district office who assisted
                           with precanvassin other Philadelphia region district offices, according
                           to a Bureau official. If the Bureau is forced to move staff between



                           Page 17                                             GAO/GGD9086   1990 Cenms
                                         chapter 2                                                                                  ,
                                         JItecmittng crItIcal   to succegsial   ceMM




                                         offices in 1990 as it did in 1989, the costs could be much higher because
                                         of the significantly greater workload.
                                         Staffing problems were not the only factor that causedprecanvass cost
                                         increases.However, the Bureau’s preliminary data from district office
                                         cost and progress reports from when it completed precanvassfield
                                         activities show that 11 of the 16 offices that did not complete pre-
                                         canvasson schedule exceededtheir budgets for fieldwork, as is shown
                                         in figure 2.3. These 11 offices were an average of about 26 percent, or
                                         about $3’7,800,over their precanvassbudgets.

Figure 2.3: Some Late Offices Exceeded
Precanvasr Budget8
                                         15   Number ot Late District Ofltcea




                                         10




                                               lOOand 101-110 111120 121130            131-140   141-150
                                               bslow
                                               Pomntago Range of Costs to Budget


                                         Source: Bureau Management Information System report for August 16,1989.


                                         Overall, precanvassfieldwork was completed within budget, with about
                                         37.6 percent of the offices that finished precanvasson time reporting
                                         that they exceededtheir budgets. Greater than expected mileage reim-
                                         bursement expensesand higher than expected training costs are among
                                         the factors that may have contributed to these offices exceedingtheir
                                         budgets, according to a Bureau official. Training costs may have been
                                         higher than expected due to a large number of part-time employees and
                                         high overtraining rates, which were revised to establish larger than


                                         Page 18                                                            GAO/GGD2085   1220 Census
                                         expected reserve pools of trained field staff to replace those who had
                                         quit or were released.Offices that finished on time but still exceeded
                                         their budgets averaged about 12.8 percent over budget.

                                         Recruiting and staffing problems during precanvassand other 1989
Recruiting Difficulties                  field activities have shown the Bureau that in many parts of the country
During Precanvass                        a recruiting goal of four applicants per peak operations position may be
RaiseConcernsfor                         too conservative for 1990. Bureau officials now consider a recruiting
                                         goal of six or eight qualified applicants for such positions to be more
1990                                     appropriate in hard-to-recruit areas, such as suburban areas.We calcu-
                                         lated, on the basis of the Bureau’s projected peak 1990 staffing of
                                         286,000 positions, how different recruiting goals, if achieved nation-
                                         wide, would affect the number of applicants recruited. Figure 2.4 shows,
                                         for example, that the Bureau would need to recruit over 2.28 million
                                         applicants if a recruiting goal of eight applicants for each position is
                                         adopted.

Figure 2.4: Number of Applicant8 to Be
Recruited lncrearer Significantly If
Goals Are Expanded                       3   Millions of Applicants




                                             4:l        8:l           8:l
                                             Appllcanfr, Per Poslfian


                                         GAO calculation based on Bureau peak staffing projection of 285,000 positions.




                                         Page 19                                                                 GAO/GGD-9085   1999 Census
                                                                                                       J
                           chapter2
                           Recruiting   crltleal   to Succeeeful   ceusus




Higher Turnover and Job    Higher than anticipated rates of turnover and job refusal occurring in
Refusal Expected During    part due to the significant amount of direct public contact the census
                           requires, are major reasonsthe Bureau will need to recruit more candi-
the Census                 dates for each position for the actual census.Most enumerators hired in
                           1990 will visit householdsto gather information from those that have
                           not returned a censusquestionnaire. Contact with a resistant public con-
                           tributes to turnover and discouragespotential applicants, according to
                           Bureau officials. For precanvass,the frequency and degreeof public
                           contact required were much less than during the census.Precanvass
                           enumerators verified addressesand inquired whether there were addi-
                           tional living quarters on a property, but they did not gather the full
                           range of censusinformation.

                           One indication of the rate of job refusal the Bureau can expect in 1990 is
                           provided by a district office manager from the Los Angeles region who
                           estimated that two-thirds of the 1989 precanvassenumerators
                           expressedconcern about the degreeof public contact during precanvass
                           and said that it may pose a recruiting challenge for 1990.


Delays Completing          Completing fieldwork expeditiously is a key ingredient to ensuring a
Fieldwork in 1990 Could    high-quality census.Efficient fieldwork provides time to review census
                           counts and enables activities to be completed as planned. Timely data
Contribute to Reduced      capture also enablesthe Bureau to review censuscounts before they are
Quality and Higher Costs   provided to the President and the states by legally mandated deadlines.
                           In addition, the need to limit censuscosts and prior delays in completing
                           fieldwork have forced the Bureau to changecensusplans and to reduce
                           operations during the actual census.For example, a shortage of quali-
                           fied staff in some areas in 1980 contributed to delays in finishing field-
                           work. These delays, combined with the need to limit censuscosts,
                           causedthe Bureau to alter censusfollow-up procedures for households
                           that had not returned a questionnaire and on questionnaires that were
                           returned but were incomplete or appeared to contain errors. These
                           changesmay have adversely affected the quality of censusdata.
                           Staff shortages and delays in completing field activities in 1990 also
                           could prove costly. The district offices will have an average budget of
                           about $1.6 million to complete data collection in 1990, or about 10.8
                           times the average amount budgeted for precanvassfieldwork. District
                           offices’ failures, in somecases,to meet precanvassbudgets did not
                           result in significant cost increasesduring 1989. However, if budget over-
                           runs occur in someoffices in 1990 and are not accompaniedby other



                           Page 20                                            GAO/GGlMO-f36   1990 Census
chapter 2
Recnltljngcritt~tusu-fulceMM




offices completing activities below budget, as occurred during pre-
canvass,censuscosts could escalatedramatically.
The Bureau was generally able to complete precanvasson time despite
difficulties meeting recruiting goals in many offices. However, staff
shortages in someoffices demonstrated the important role a successful
recruitment effort has in enabling the Bureau to complete activities on
time, as planned, and within budget. Achieving recruiting goals will be
especially important for the actual census,which is more labor-intensive
and more difficult. A well-run recruitment program is neededto attract
the applicants the Bureau will require for the census.Chapter 3 dis-
cussesthat while progress has been made on a number of key recruiting
issues,more proactive headquarters oversight of regional recruiting
efforts could further improve the Bureau’s recruiting posture.




Page 21                                           GAO/GGIMO85   1990 C!ensus
Chapter 3

EnhancedOversight of F’ieldRecruitment
Efforts Needed

              The Bureau faces a number of obstaclesin recruiting neededstaff, such
              as the degreeof interaction with the public required by censusjobs; the
              short-term nature of censusemployment; high crime rates, which may
              make applicants fearful of working in someneighborhoods; and the
              absenceof employee benefits for most positions-all of which make cen-
              sus work unattractive to many potential applicants. Although well-
              designed recruitment programs and thoroughly trained recruiters can-
              not guarantee that the Bureau will not have staffing difficulties during
              the census,they nonethelessare important in minimizing the effects of
              these obstacles.The Bureau’s implementation of geographic pay rates,
              recent legislation that is aimed at expanding the applicant pool, and
              other important recruiting improvements the Bureau has made during
              the 1990 censuscycle should assist the Bureau in attracting needed
              staff.

              However, the district offices have not always developed the recruitment
              program they need to compete for staff, and someoffices have lacked
              adequate direction, which contributed to the uneven successof the
              Bureau’s 1989 recruitment efforts. The Bureau discussedits 1989
              recruiting performance at an August 1989 conferenceof headquarters
              officials, senior regional officials responsible for the decennial census,
              and regional recruiters. Overall, these officials expresseda high degree
              of confidence in the Bureau’s recruiting program and concluded that the
              Bureau generally is well positioned for the staffing challengesfor the
              census.These officials also identified areas, however, where the Bureau
              neededto take aggressiveaction, such as enhancedrecruitment training
              and strengthened local recruitment planning, to improve its recruiting
              posture for 1990.

              Bureau officials concluded that district office recruiter training needed
              to be improved, particularly on how to manage a major recruitment
              effort and on how to plan and monitor recruiting performance. The offi-
              cials also noted that local recruitment planning did not always account
              for the diverse demographic and economicrecruiting challengesfacing
              the Bureau, such as the need to attract applicants from all ethnic groups
              and the effect high-employment rates have on the Bureau’s ability to
              attract staff. The Bureau is making improvements in its recruiting
              efforts for the census,but it needsto ensure that its regional offices
              provide the recruiter training and recruitment planning neededfor the
              census.




              Page 22                                            GAO/GGD-9086   1990 Censua
      .



                            Enhamed Oversight   of Field lbxukment
                            Effort.8 Needed




                            A fundamental staffing challenge confronting the Bureau is ensuring
Actions Taken to            that its pay rates are competitive. Inadequate pay is a major factor that
Address Recruitment         has hampered the Bureau’s recruiting efforts in someareas. For exam-
Obstacles   Should   Help   pie, the Bureau raised pay in six east coast areasto meet staffing needs
                            to complete 1988 suburban and rural address-list development activi-
CensusStaffing              ties. Pay was also increased in parts of New York and Massachusetts
Efforts                     during precanvassin 1989.
                            In a series of congressionaltestimonies over the last year, we
                            encouragedthe Bureau to consider a geographic pay system that is more
                            sensitive to local market conditions to help it compete for neededstaff.1
                            The Bureau subsequently implemented a geographic pay program for
                            the 1990 censusthat contains sevendifferent wage levels for temporary
                            district office staff. Pay rates for enumerators range from $6.00 to $8.00
                            per hour. Before the implementation of the geographic pay rates, the
                            Bureau paid enumerators $6.60 or $6.00 per hour, except in those areas
                            where it raised pay to address staff shortagesin 1988 and 1989.
                            The Bureau also plans to provide supplemental payments during certain
                            censusactivities to enumerators and other field staff who meet produc-
                            tivity goals and who continue working for a specified period of time.
                            These payments could add the equivalent of over $1.00 per hour to enu-
                            merators’ pay.
                            The Bureau’s geographic wage rates should make a major contribution
                            toward enabling the Bureau to compete for employeesneededfor the
                            census.However, the successof the effort dependson the extent to
                            which the rates established for each district office are competitive and
                            the program’s funding is adequate. We currently are reviewing these
                            issues as part of a separate effort.
                            The Bureau’s ability to attract staff for the censuswas further
                            improved by legislation that significantly expands the potential appli-
                            cant pool that will be available for the census.The President signed leg-
                            islation in August 1989 that eliminated certain financial disincentives
                            for federal annuitants and military retirees to accepting censusemploy
                            ment, by exempting them from provisions of Title 6, United States Code,
                            that would have precluded them from receiving both their censuspay
                            and their annuity or retired pay. In testimony supporting the legislation

                            %&us of Plans for the 1990 Decennial Census (GAO/T-GGD-89-20, May k&1989); Status of Plans
                            for the 1990 Decennial Census: An Update (GAO/T-GGD-SQ-16, March 23,198Q); Status of the K&O
                            Decennial Cmms (GAO/T-GGD--pt.             27,1988.)



                            Page 28                                                         GAO/GGD90.65     1990 Cawua
                      Chapter 2
                      JCnhanced Overnight   of Field Recruitment
                      JZfforte Needed




                      before the Subcommittee on Censusand Population, HouseCommittee
                      on Post Office and Civil Service,we noted that these retirees, who
                      already have demonstrated a commitment to the public service, could
                      prove a valuable source of applicants for the Bureau, especially in some
                      of the areas where it has experienced difficulties attracting staffa
                      The Bureau’s recruitment efforts will also be helped by the Bureau’s
                      censuspromotion efforts and the large amount of publicity accompany-
                      ing a decennial census,according to Bureau officials. The Bureau
                      believes that its censuspromotion program and censuspress coverage,
                      both of which are expected to peak shortly before the census,will
                      inform many potential applicants who previously were not aware of the
                      censusabout censusemployment opportunities. However, when we
                      examined the Bureau’s promotion and outreach in mid-1989, we found
                      that the 1990 promotion effort had been hampered by a late start, dupli-
                      cation of effort, and strained working relationships among someBureau
                      units.3 In addition, the Bureau experienced staff shortages in some
                      offices during the 1980 censuseven with its promotion effort and high
                      press visibility.

                      For 1989 activities, district office recruiters, like other district office
Recruiter Training    managementstaff, received 1 week of training on managing the census.
Limited in 1989but    The managementtraining is developed by Bureau headquarters to be
Improvements Made     read verbatim by the instructor. The Bureau directed its regions to
                      develop and provide additional training to the recruiters. The Bureau
for the 1990 Census   believes, and we agree,that recruiter training should be individualized
                      to each district office to accommodatethe recruiting challengesspecific
                      to each area. Therefore, the Bureau allowed the regions to determine the
                      amount and content of the specialized recruitment training they would
                      offer to the district office recruiters for 1989 field activities.
                      Bureau headquarters did not review the regions’ 1989 training programs
                      for district office recruiters and, as a result, had limited assurancethat
                      the recruitment training the regions provided was sufficient and prop-
                      erly focused. While our work in the Los Angeles and New York regions
                      cannot be projected nationally, it identified areas where recruiter train-
                      ing potentially neededto be strengthened. Five of the six Los Angeles
                      region district office recruiters who received the region’s specialized

                      2Expanding the Decennial Census Applicant Pool (GAO/T-GGD-89-22, May 23,198Q).

                      3Status of 1990 Census Promotion and Outreach Activities (GAO/T-GGD-89-40, Sept. 20,198Q).



                      Page 24                                                           GAO/GGD-9085    1990 Cenma
 .
                           Chapter 3
                           Enhanced Oversight   of Field Recruitment
                           Jlff’orta Needed




                           recruiter training, said that it could be improved, for example, by pro-
                           viding answers to questions that applicants would ask most frequently,
                           such as how employment on the censuswould affect welfare benefits. In
                           the New York region, in addition to the verbatim general management
                           training, recruiters were provided with only 2 hours of specialized
                           recruitment training for 1989 activities. This training allowed for only a
                           general overview of recruiting procedures.


Training on Managing a     The Bureau hired recruiters for the 109 district offices opened for 1989
Recruitment Program        activities largely on the basis of the applicant’s familiarity with local
                           communities, which is an important characteristic of a successful
Needed Improvement         recruiter. However, the Bureau subsequently found that many of these
                           recruiters did not have skills in planning, developing, and managing a
                           recruitment program, which are critical characteristics of a sound
                           recruitment effort wherever it takes place. The Bureau has since empha-
                           sized these skills in selecting district office recruiters and is confident
                           that it was able to hire recruiters for the 349 remaining district offices
                           who are familiar with their communities and possessmanagement abili-
                           ties. The Bureau has also decided to expand recruiter training to better
                           ensure that its district office recruiters have the skills they need to be
                           successful.
                           The significant increase in recruiting workload for the censusmakes it
                           important that recruiters be effective managers.For 1990, a recruiter in
                           a typical district office is expected to recruit at least 2,400 applicants to
                           fill 600 positions. For precanvass,a recruiter in an average district
                           office neededto recruit about 626 applicants. This over four-fold
                           increase in averageworkload requires that recruiters be trained to man-
                           age such a major recruiting effort, including establishing priorities,
                           designing recruiting strategies, supervising staff who administer census
                           employment tests and assist with recruitment, and monitoring recruiting
                           performance.


Expanded Training on       The Bureau may also need to provide additional training to recruiters to
Using Recruiting Reports   reinforce how managementreports from the Bureau’s automated appli-
                           cant file can assist with recruiting. The applicant file is a district office
May Be Needed              computer file containing such basic data as address,race, sex, and other
                           information on all applicants. A primary purpose of the applicant file is
                           to generate lists of applicants for use when the district office is ready to
                           hire. The applicant file can also provide critical recruiting reports that
                           show the extent to which 18 different recruiting sources,for example,


                           Page 25                                               GAO/GGD9085   1990 Censw
                                                                                                              .
                                 Chapter 8
                                 Enhanced Overalght   of Field lbcrukment
                                 Eiforta Needed




                                 state employment offices, newspaper advertisements, and community
                                 organizations, have provided applicants, This report is discussedduring
                                 censusmanagementtraining the recruiters and other managementstaff
                                 receive but as part of the discussionon using managementreports, not
                                 as part of the managementtraining section on designing and implement-
                                 ing a recruiting program.
                                 Recruiters from the Los Angeles and New York regions, however, did
                                 not always use the applicant file’s report on recruiting sourcesand in
                                 somecasesdid not know that it existed. For example, recruiters in two
                                 of the New York region’s eight district offices said they did not know
                                 about the report. The region’s recruiting plan for its district offices dis-
                                 cussesthe applicant file but doesnot mention the recruiting sources
                                 report.
                                 Similar problems occurred in the Los Angeles region. A recruiter at one
                                 district office said she was not aware the report existed. Another dis-
                                 trict office recruiter from that region said his training on the use of
                                 applicant file reports was very limited and, as a result, he was not sure
                                 how to use the information contained in the report. He said that on the
                                 basis of his experience during precanvass,he now understands how to
                                 use the report and believes it will be very helpful in 1990.

                                 Recruiters who did not use the recruiting sourcesreport lacked a key
                                 device for managing their recruitment program. These management
                                 reports enable recruiters to determine which recruiting sourcesare most
                                 successfulin producing applicants and provides them with information
                                 that helps to design recruitment strategies to ensure that the workforce
                                 meets the Bureau’s equal employment opportunity goals. Bureau offi-
                                 cials said that these reports contain important information that should
                                 be used continuously throughout an operation to adjust and refine
                                 recruiting strategies.


Bureau Lacks Assurance    The Bureau is addressing the problems it had with recruiter training in
That Recruitment Training 1989 by requiring that the regions provide a minimum of 2 days of spe-
                          cialized recruitment training and 2 to 3 days of on-the-job-training in
Will Be Improved for 1990 addition  to the week-long censusmanagementtraining the recruiters
                                 receive with other district office managementstaff. Bureau headquar-
                                 ters provided general guidance to the regions on what should be
                w                included in the expanded recruitment training, such as details on census
                                 applicant testing and selection procedures.



                                 Page 26                                              GAO/GGD-!W35   lfI90 Cenma
 .
                       chaptm 8
                       Extbned   Chwrdght   of Field Becruitment
                       Efforta Needed




                       Bureau headquarters has not required the regions to provide for review
                       outlines of their recruiter training programs. As a result, while head-
                       quarters has provided direction on the amount and general content of
                       recruiter training, it doesnot know the extent to which district office
                       recruiters are actually receiving the training they need. For example,
                       the guidance did not give specific instructions on providing training on
                       managing a major recruitment effort, such as the one required by the
                       census,nor doesthe guidance discussthe need to highlight the impor-
                       tant role the applicant file’s recruiting sourcesreport can play in moni-
                       toring and planning recruitment efforts.

                       The Bureau continues to believe that while headquarters has provided
                       guidance, the regions, on the basis of their experience and knowledge of
                       the local recruiting challengestheir district offices will face, are in the
                       best position to design their own recruitment training programs. We
                       agree that a successfulrecruitment effort dependson local conditions
                       and that the Bureau’s regional offices are in the best position to design
                       recruiter training programs. However, certain key recruiting skills, such
                       as how to manage a major recruitment effort, need to be taught irrespec-
                       tive of the location of the district office. In addition, by not systemati-
                       cally reviewing regional training programs for 1989 activities, the
                       Bureau identified weaknessesin district office recruiter training efforts
                       after precanvasshad been completed.

                       The Bureau believes that planning is critical in designing recruiting
Limited Oversight      strategies that addressthe diverse competitive challengesit faces. One
Contributed to Poor    of the Bureau’s major achievementsfor the 1990 censuscycle has been
Recruitment Planning   to begin recruitment efforts well in advance of the census.For example,
                       the Bureau hired its 1990 regional recruiters about 2 years before the
                       census;for the 1980 censusregional recruiters were hired about 6
                       months before the census.The Bureau issued its 1990 national recruit-
                       ing plan about 3 years before the censusand a regional recruiting plan
                       in December 1987. In contrast, there was not sufficient time to learn
                       ab,outlocal recruiting challengesin 1980. This affected the recruiters’
                       ability to managethe region’s recruiting efforts.
                       The Bureau’s 1990 national and regional recruiting plans discussedthe
                       need for each region to develop specific regional and district office
                       recruiting strategies on the basis of the demographic profile and recruit-
                       ing challenges confronting its geographic area. For example, each area’s
                       ethnic and racial composition is a factor that must be consideredin



                       Page 27                                            GAO/GGIM#O-65   1990 Census
                           Chapter 8
                           Enhanced OversIght   of Field Recruitment
                           Efforta Needed




                           designing a recruiting program to meet the key Bureau goal that commu-
                           nities be enumerated by individuals from their own neighborhoods.
                           Unemployment rates must also be consideredbecausethey are an indi-
                           cation of how difficult recruiting may be.


Headquarters Did Limited   The Bureau provided guidance on the recruiting plans that the regions
Monitoring of Field        were instructed to develop for the district offices but did not subse-
                           quently assessthose regional planning efforts. As a result, the Bureau
Recruitment Planning       did not know the extent to which the district offices were prepared for
                           the recruitment challengesthey face.

                           Our review of recruitment efforts in the Los Angeles and New York
                           regions found that regional recruitment planning efforts for 1989 activi-
                           ties were limited. For example, the Los Angeles regional office did not
                           develop recruiting plans for its district offices in 1989. The regional
                           recruiter said that she believed existing Bureau guidance covered the
                           subject adequately. We found, however, that the absenceof a clear local
                           recruiting plan can hamper recruitment efforts. According to the
                           recruiter at one Los Angeles region district office, he inherited a disorga-
                           nized recruitment program when the original recruiter left. He was not
                           provided with a recruiting plan for the office and therefore experienced
                           problems with his early recruitment efforts. For example, he had to
                           reconstruct the office’s list of recruiting contacts and evaluate the
                           extent to which the office’s locations for testing applicants were actu-
                           ally yielding candidates. According to the recruiter at another Los Ange-
                           les region district office, information on the ethnic composition of his
                           area would have been helpful in monitoring the successof his recruit-
                           ment efforts in generating applicants that reflect the ethnic profile of
                           the community.

                           Recruiting strategies prepared by the New York regional office for its
                           district offices were not tailored to addressthe specific recruiting chal-
                           lenges,such as the unemployment rates, each district office confronts.
                           District offices in the New York region were provided with modifica-
                           tions to the headquarters’ guidance to the regions on preparing recruit-
                           ing plans and a list of organizations in their respective areas that had
                           agreed to assist with censusrecruitment. The New York guidance noted
                           the importance of planning the recruitment effort but provided limited
                           direction on how it should be done.




                           Page 28                                             GAO/GGIMKM6   1990 Census
                           Chapter 8
                           Enhanced Overnight   of Field Recmitment
                           Efforts Needed




Regional Improvements      The need for strong recruitment planning in the district offices was a
Planned but Headquarters   major topic of discussion during the Bureau’s August 1989 recruiting
                           conference.A well-designed recruitment strategy is especially important
Oversight Not Expanded     in overcoming the recruitment challengesposed by high-employment
                           areas. Traditional recruitment strategies that focus on individuals who
                           are actively seeking employment, such as contacts with state employ-
                           ment centers and classified advertising, will not necessarily be sufficient
                           to attract applicants who are not in the labor market. For example, the
                           New York region experienced significant recruiting difficulties during
                           precanvassin high-income areas,

                           A Bureau official said that applicants in high-employment areas are
                           attracted to the censusbecauseit is a major federal undertaking rather
                           than becauseit provides the opportunity for employment. Promoting
                           censusjobs by convincing applicants that working on the censusis in the
                           national interest is more difficult than using a recruiting approach that
                           stressesjob opportunities, according to this official.
                           Problems with the planning and execution of recruitment efforts in 1989
                           led the Bureau’s regions to enhanceplanning efforts for the district
                           offices. For example, the Charlotte region’s October 1989 recruiting plan
                           is based on a county-by-county evaluation of the recruiting strategies
                           that were most successful and the recruiting problems that were exper-
                           ienced in 1989.

                           Bureau headquarters, however, is not pursuing a coordinated effort of
                           reviewing the planning efforts the regions are doing for the district
                           offices. Similar to the position it has taken on recruitment training, the
                           Bureau believes that its regions know the recruitment challengescon-
                           fronting the district offices and how best to design a recruitment pro-
                           gram to addressthose challenges.
                           As a result, the Bureau doesnot have the assurancethat the planning
                           problems experienced with the 1989 precanvasswill not be replicated in
                           the new district offices during the census.Bureau headquarters could
                           review regional planning efforts for the district offices to assess
                           whether these efforts addressthe problems identified after precanvass,
                           particularly the absenceof a recruitment strategy in somecasesand the
                           failure to design recruiting efforts that addressthe economic and demo-
                           graphic recruiting issuesconfronting each office.
                           Well-trained district office recruiters and soundly designedlocal recruit-
                           ing efforts are especially important for the actual censusbecausethe


                           Page 29                                             GAO/GGD-90436   1990 Census
                     Chapter 8
                     Enhanced Oversight   of Field Recruitment
                     Efforta Needed




                     opening of 349 ,new district offices nationwide for the censuswill signif-
                     icantly increase the regional offices’ workload in guiding and monitoring
                     recruiting performance in the district offices. While each region was
                     responsible for overseeingrecruiting activities in an average of 8 district
                     offices in 1989, each will be responsible for an average of 36 offices in
                     1990. The increased regional workload for the censusforces even
                     greater reliance on the district office recruiters to managetheir recruit-
                     ment efforts effectively without extensive direct regional assistance.

                     The Bureau faces major challengesin attracting the staff it needsto
Conclusionand        complete the census.The Bureau has made significant progress during
Recommendation       the 1990 censuscycle in establishing a national recruitment program. In
                     addition, recent actions, such as its implementation of geographic wage
                     rates and legislation expanding the potential applicant pool, should fur-
                     ther improve the Bureau’s competitive posture. However, the Bureau
                     needsto ensure that the district office recruiter training and planning
                     efforts are adequately preparing the recruiters for the challengesthey
                     will face during the census.

                     Accordingly, we recommendthat the Director, Bureau of the Census,
                     direct headquarters staff to assumea more proactive role in monitoring
                     the regions’ managementof field recruitment efforts by
                 .   assuring that the recruiter training the regions are providing addresses
                     the training needsidentified during 1989, particularly in managing a
                     recruitment effort; and
                 .   reviewing the planning efforts the regions are establishing for their dis-
                     trict offices and requiring any necessarycorrective actions neededto
                     ensure plans account for the diverse recruiting challengesthe Bureau’s
                     district offices confront.

                     We obtained oral comments on a draft of this report from the Bureau.
Agency Commentsand   Bureau officials said they believed that the draft gave insufficient atten-
Our Evaluation       tion to the improvements that the Bureau has made in designing and
                     implementing its recruitment program since 1980. The Bureau noted, for
                     example, that it began planning the 1990 recruitment effort early in the
        LJ           decade,hired key regional and district office staff earlier in the census
                     cycle than in 1980, gained valuable recruiting experience and contacts



                     Page 80                                             GAO/GGD-9045   1990 Census
Chapter 8
IGthaneed Oversight   of Field Jhmuitient
Efforts Needed




from precensusfield activities, and has held a number of conferences
for regional staff to exchangeideas on recruiting.
The Bureau also said that the draft did not fully recognizethe major
differences between recruiting efforts for 1980; field activities during
the 1990 censuscycle, including precanvass;and the 1990 census.For
example, the Bureau believes that the piece-rate method of paying enu-
merators in 1980 contributed to staffing problems. The Bureau believes
that hourly pay rates used during the 1990 censuscycle along with the
daily contact with supervisors should make it easier to recruit and
retain employees.The Bureau also believes that its national network of
district offices will enable it to better focus recruitment efforts at the
local level.

The Bureau noted that other actions, taken since we completed our audit
work, should further improve recruiting for the census.For example, at
the request of the Bureau, the Department of Health and Human Ser-
vices is allowing the states to request waivers from provisions that
require recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children to have
their benefits reduced if they work on the census.

Overall, the Bureau believes that it is in a much better position for the
recruitment challengesposed by the 1990 censusthan at a similar point
during the 1980 census.The Bureau noted that as of February 23,1990,
its 1990 qualified applicant base already was about 72.6 percent of
what the Bureau’s qualified applicant basewas at the end of the 1980
census.
We agreethat the Bureau is better prepared for the recruiting chal-
lenges it will face in 1990 than it was at a similar point in 1980. For
example, as we noted in chapter 3, the Bureau’s implementation of geo-
graphic wages for the 1990 censusand its beginning recruitment plan-
ning and staffing earlier than in 1980, are major improvements over the
1980 censusrecruitment program. In addition, we noted that the
Bureau’s regions have applied valuable lessonslearned from pre-
canvass,which were raised at the Bureau’s August 1989 recruiting con-
ference. These lessonssubsequently were used to improve the selection
and training of recruiters and strengthen local recruitment planning.
However, the Bureau’s progress since 1980 doesnot mean that recruit-
ment for the 1990 censuswill be without difficulty. The primary objec-
tives of our work were to assessthe Bureau’s 1989 precanvass
recruiting progress and the adequacy of the preparations the Bureau


Page 81                                            GAO/GGIMO-65   1990 Census
chapter 3
Enhanced tiersight   of Field Recruitment
Effort-a Needed




has undertaken to ensure that its district offices are ready to implement
a recruitment program for the 1990 census.We found that Bureau head-
quarters neededto improve its oversight efforts to ensure that the
regions are providing the district office recruiters with the training and
recruitment planning support the recruiters need.
Recruiting a high-quality temporary workforce still is a major manage-
ment challenge for the Bureau. Early 1990 recruiting performance dem-
onstrates the scopeof this challenge. For example, the Bureau did not
meet its milestone to have achieved 60 percent of its 1990 recruiting
goal by March 2, 1990. Overall, the Bureau met about 34 percent of its
1990 recruiting goal by that date. According to the Bureau, 84.6 percent
of its district offices did not meet the 60 percent interim recruiting goal.
Difficulties in meeting recruiting goals do not necessarily result in staff
shortages.However, recruiting shortages provide ~JIindication of how
difficult attracting a sufficient number of staff may be when hiring
actually begins. Meeting recruiting goals also is important in providing
managerswith flexibility in choosing the best applicants when making
hiring decisions.
Regarding our recommendation that Bureau headquarters assure itself
that the regions’ recruiter training and planning programs are sufficient,
the Bureau has directed each region to submit a sample district office
recruiting plan and outlines and related materials used to provide the
specialized recruiter training. Bureau officials said they will examine
the material to ensure it addressesthe problems identified in 1989. The
Bureau also noted that headquarters officials continue to monitor dis-
trict office recruiting performance by reviewing weekly management
information system reports that show the extent to which each office is
meeting recruiting goals. We believe that the Bureau’s decision to sys-
tematically review regional recruiter training programs and recruitment
plans addressesour recommendation.
The Bureau also suggesteda number of technical clarifications, which
we have made to the report where appropriate.




Page 32                                              GAO/GGDW-65   1990 Ceneua
Page 33   GAO/GGD-8086   1990 Censue
Appendix                                                                                       -
Major Contributors to This Report


GeneralGovernment       William M. Hunt, Assistant Director, Government BusinessOperations
                           Issues
Division, Washington,   J. Christopher Mihm, Evaluator-in-Charge
DC.                     Jacob Kaufman, Assignment Manager
                        Tammy R. Conquest,Evaluator

                        James D. VanBlarcom, Regional Assignment Manager
New York Regional       Bonnie L. Derby, Evaluator
Office
                        Larry S. Thomas, Evaluator
Los AngelesRegional     Brian Bibb, Evaluator
Office




(017081)                Page 34                                        GAO/GGD-DO85   1930 Census