Census maps its 2010 population count

The Census Bureau is finding that the best way to get employees to buy into an enterprise architecture is to let them participate in developing it.

The agency has been developing a separate enterprise architecture for its 2010 Decennial Census. That EA, which feeds into the agency architecture, has brought in more program participants since it is mapping a specific program.

“The people who have participated in developing it, I think, are seeing the benefits because they are referencing it,” said Marjorie Martinez, branch chief of the Census Bureau’s software and systems standards division.

Census, an agency of the Commerce Department, counts the U.S. population every 10 years. Census will begin its count in April 2010 and must deliver its final tally to Congress on Dec. 31, 2010. The population count provides the basis for any changes in the number of members of the House of Representatives from each state.

“Everything changes in 10 years, even some business processes, and we’re doing some experimenting,” said John Abt, a member of the 2010 Census architecture support team.

In 2010, people will be able to respond to the census questionnaire over the Internet, although it will arrive through the mail. Census plans to use mobile computing devices, such as personal digital assistants, to capture information from door-to-door visits to those who did not respond to the questionnaire. Census will build security into the mobile device to ensure that the counter can’t decode the data and that the data can’t be intercepted when it is transmitted nightly to the agency, Abt said.

Currently, Census is working on decomposition or breaking down functions to their simplest form, such as updating data instead of updating the master address file; developing interface changes between the systems and detailing a security plan, Martinez said.

In developing the decennial EA, they found that no one person had an effective view of the entire census process and that not all components used the same definition for the same terminology, Abt said. So Census assembled a steering committee to provide direction for the groups involved in the architecture.

Abt said the decennial EA still presents challenges to the work group:
  • To eliminate redundancies that still occur in different sections of the architecture

  • To find common definitions for terms used by groups in different parts of the architecture, and

  • To determine the right level of detail for requirements to avoid defining solutions in contracts.

The next steps are for systems engineers to refine the architecture and look for overlap and duplication of system requirements and to assign the executive-level sign-off on the architecture.

The decennial EA is based on the Treasury’s EA framework, and includes business, logical and physical architectures.

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