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

    • Telecommunications
      Stock photo ID: 658810513 By asharkyu

      GSA extends EIS deadline to 2023

      Agencies are getting up to three more years on existing telecom contracts before having to shift to the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle.

    • Workforce
      Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen

      OMB looks to retrain feds to fill cyber needs

      The federal government is taking steps to fill high-demand, skills-gap positions in tech by retraining employees already working within agencies without a cyber or IT background.

    • Acquisition
      GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

      GSA to consolidate multiple award schedules

      The General Services Administration plans to consolidate dozens of its buying schedules across product areas including IT and services to reduce duplication.

    Stay Connected

    FCW Update

    Sign up for our newsletter.

    I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.