Howard G. Brunsman, 76, a retired Census Bureau authority on the collection and processing of population and housing data who had just completed a census project in Bangladesh for the bureau and the United Nations Development Program, died of a pulmonary embolism saturday at a hospital in Dacca, Bangladesh.

Mr. Brunsman began his government career in 1934 with the Federal Housing Administration's division of research and statistics. In 1939, he transferred to the Bureau of the Census. He subsequently served as chief of the housing statistics branch and chief of the population division, where he was responsible for planning the content of the 1950, 1960, and 1970 population censuses. He received the Department of Commerce Silver Medal Award for his work on the 1960 Census.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Brunsman also was an adviser to a number of developing countries in Africa and South America, a consultant to the Puerto Rico Planning Board, and an adviser to the U.S. delegate to the Population Commission of the United Nations.

From 1966 until his retirement in 1970, he was special assistant to the director of the Census Bureau. He then worked as a consulatant and had been in Bangladesh for a month to assist in that country's computer processing of its recently completed 1981 census of population and housing.

Brunsman was born in Cincinnati and grew up in Dayton, Ohio. He earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in statistics from Ohio State University.

He lived in Arlington and was a member of the Civitan Club there. He was a fellow of the American Statistical Association and a member of the American Marketing Association and the Internation Union for the Scientific Study of Population.

Survivors include his wife, Dorothy M. Brunsman of Arlington; three sisters, Ethel Adams of Tuscon, and Mabel Bowman and Henrietta Kistler, and two brothers, August E. and Robert S., all of Dayton.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to a charity of one's choice.