Census comes in $1.6 billion under budget

"It is ironic that an agency in existence to do simple arithmetic would try to peddle such incomplete and deceptive figures to cover up for its waste of an estimated $3 billion of taxpayers’ money," he said. "Only in Washington could someone try to spin such an embarrassing budget-buster into a triumph of thrift."

Issa argued that the cost of the Census ballooned from $11.3 billion to more than $16 billion, "allowing the Obama administration to falsely claim the estimated $14.4 billion final cost of the Census 'saved' taxpayers money."

In 2008, the Census's budget grew by $3 billion after various IT problems cropped up. 

About $800 million of the savings was set aside for contingencies such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, Locke said today on his blog. 

Another $150 million was saved from other operations, such as a special count of American Indian reservations.

Locke said the cost of the Census could have increased by hundreds of millions if more workers had been needed to follow up door-to-door with those who didn't respond.