* Enterprise solutions. 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.
* Better workforce planning. 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.
The Bureau has made progress in these areas and others. However, they will require continued oversight if the Bureau is to transform itself to better control costs and deliver an accurate national headcount in 2020.
Our prior work has highlighted the need for the Bureau to develop more accurate and rigorous cost estimates for census operations. n6 The Bureau uses the life-cycle cost estimate as the starting point for the annual budget formulation process and, according to our Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide, a reliable cost-estimating process is necessary to ensure that cost estimates--particularly for large, complex projects like the 2020 Census--are comprehensive, well documented, accurate, and credible. n7 In
In response to our recommendation, the Bureau has created a cost estimation team reporting to the Director. The team intended, among other things, to standardize guidance and training in cost estimation throughout the Bureau. The Bureau recently took the important step of hiring an individual to lead that group. However, until the Bureau finalizes its cost-estimating policies, procedures, and guidance, as we recommended, it runs the risks of developing unreliable cost estimates for 2020.
Integrated Long-term Planning
The Bureau's progress thus far with early planning is noteworthy given its long-standing challenges in this area. In
In addition, we recommended in
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