Census abandons handheld devices for 2010 count

After years of trying to ramp up a system for collecting data for the 2010 census using handheld computers, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez told Congress on Thursday that the department was giving up on the plan.

The Field Data Collection Automation project 'has experienced significant schedule, performance and cost issues,' Gutierrez told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. He added that 'a lack of effective communication with one of our key contractors has significantly contributed to the challenges.'

GCN has not yet been able to reach the contractor ' Harris Corp. ' for comment.

Gutierrez also informed Congress that the 2010 census would ' because of the decision to drop FDCA and other changes ' cost an additional $2.2 billion to $3 billion dollars, bringing the total cost to about $14 billion.

The department is not abandoning all of its efforts to modernize, however, Gutierrez said. He indicated that the department still plans to employ Global Positioning System-enabled Harris handheld computers for address canvassing, the operation that occurs the year before the decennial census to validate and update the location of every household in the country.

The department also plans to increase the accuracy of census maps by implementing a update of the digital geospatial database ' the Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing Accuracy Improvement Project (MAF/TIGER).

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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