Reps. Davis, Turner press for hearing on alleged Census troubles

Reps. Tom Davis and Mike Turner, senior Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, are asking the majority for a hearing on the Census Bureau’s allegedly problematic program to use handheld computers for the 2010 headcount.

Davis (Va.), the ranking member of the committee, and Turner (Ohio), the ranking member of the committee’s Information Policy, the Census and National Archives Subcommittee, wrote a letter to Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and William Clay (D-Mo.) following press reports of an evaluation by Mitre that found the Census program is in “serious trouble.”

Waxman is the committee chairman and Clay is the subcommittee’s chairman.
GovExec.com first reported the Mitre analysis Jan. 2.

Davis and Turner said that then-Census Director Louis Kincannon misled the subcommittee during a Dec. 11 hearing on the Decennial Census’ progress. The letter states that Kincannon, who was replaced Jan. 4 by Stephen Murdock, “never mentioned any meeting with Mitre, nor did he mention Mitre’s…concerns” about the handheld program.

Census reviewed the Mitre report Nov. 29, according to reports.

Davis and Turner ask the majority to hold a hearing that would address:


  • What is the true status of the handheld program?

  • Why did Census not divulge the handheld report at the hearing?

  • Did the Census intentionally withhold information about Mitre’s concerns?

  • Are there other technology programs, such as the Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS), about which the bureau has received troubling reports?


“We must ensure that every effort is being made to achieve the most accurate enumeration,” the congressmen wrote. “Therefore, we urge you to turn your attention to this matter and use the power of this committee to get to the bottom of the issues described in this letter before it is too late.”

The handheld and DRIS programs are worth more than $1 billion and are major pieces of the first high-tech Census.

GovExec.com reported that Mitre found that the handhelds may not meet the Census’ needs and significant changes are required.

"Chairman Waxman will give careful consideration to the request," said Karen Lightfoot, his spokeswoman.

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