Former official: Census handhelds could save millions

Handheld devices used by Census Bureau field workers will only get limited use during the 2010 Census, but have the potential to save millions during the 2020 count, former Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon said today during a phone briefing.

Handhelds will only be used for address canvassing in the 2010 census, said Kincannon, who served under former President George W. Bush. Home addresses are confirmed and discovered during address canvassing.

Using the handhelds when following up at homes that did not return census questionnaires could potentially save millions of dollars, Kincannon said. The list of homes that need a follow-up visit can be continually updated by using handheld computers, he said, adding that with the paper-based system that will be used in 2010, workers often visit the homes of people who already sent in their forms.

“Using handhelds means the people out in the field get continual updates about late receipts,” Kincannon said. “We wasted and enormous amount of money in earlier censuses because of the inability to update the assignments for [the] non-response follow-up workers.”

Sending workers to a home unnecessarily is expensive because it creates duplicate records and it annoys respondents, Kincannon said.

How the handhelds are used in the future will partly be determined how well they work with address canvassing. During the initial testing of the handhelds, workers had problems accessing a help desk to solve problems, but that problem was resolved, he said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.