GAO raps Census’ handheld plans

Related Links

GAO Report

Still a few bugs

Problems encountered during tests of handheld computers included:

  • Telecommunication and database problems that prevented devices from communicating with the data center.

  • Transmission of extraneous data, such as column and row headings.

  • Addition of an unnecessary step in the data transmission process.


  • Source: Government Accountability Office

    The handheld computers the Census Bureau plans to use to collect information for the 2010 census need a closer look, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report. GAO wants bureau officials to establish criteria to determine whether the handheld computers and software are capable of performing the tasks needed for the decennial census.

    The bureau plans to rely heavily on handheld devices to verify addresses. However, because of escalating costs, the Commerce Department, the Census Bureau’s parent department, said in March that it wanted to redesign the bureau’s automation effort.

    Census has been shifting its plans to use handhelds for some time. Earlier, the bureau decided not to use them for post-census interviews, in which census workers go door-to-door to people who did not respond to the census by mail. Instead the bureau chose to use its traditional paper forms for that part of the process, which is expected to add as much as $3 billion to the total cost of the census.

    During a dress rehearsal, help-desk logs revealed that census workers most frequently had issues with transmitting data, collecting mapping coordinates and working with large blocks of information. They also reported incidents of the devices freezing during operation. 

    About the Author

    Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

    Featured

    • Cybersecurity

      DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

      Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

    • Defense
      Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

      Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

      On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

    • Census
      shutterstock image

      2020 Census to include citizenship question

      The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

    Stay Connected

    FCW Update

    Sign up for our newsletter.

    I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.