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

  • Cybersecurity
    malware detection (Alexander Yakimov/Shutterstock.com)

    Microsoft targets copycat influence websites

    Microsoft went to court to take down websites it believes to be part of a foreign intelligence operation targeting conservative think tanks and the U.S. Senate.

  • Cybersecurity
    secure network

    FAA explores shifting its network to FISMA high

    The Federal Aviation Administration is exploring an upgrade to the information security categorization of IT systems as part of air traffic control modernization.

  • Cybersecurity
    Shutterstock photo id 669226093 By Gorodenkoff

    The disinformation game

    The federal government is poised to bring new tools and strategies to bear in the fight against foreign-backed online disinformation campaigns, but how and when they choose to act could have ramifications on the U.S. political ecosystem.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.