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More on the Census and the Internet

I got a note from a person about the Census and its use of the Internet -- or lack of use of the Internet:

With the pervasive "gotcha" attitudes in D.C., why would a Census Director agree to Internet collection if he can avoid it? What's the upside? If I don't do it, it costs more money. If I do and I get hacked (a 50/50 probability), I'm on the front page of the Post looking like Michael Brown.

What causes decisions like this is aversion to risk, caused by high penalties and no rewards. Did you know that the top two Census guys got fired because of the laptop losses? Was it their fault? What information was lost?

My bottom line is that this is the root cause of the lack of innovation in government. It's a lose-no win environment. Why take the risk?

To that end, the Census determines House seats and redistricting, among other information. So changing the process is a high risk.

Strangely enough, as I have been searching for information, the Census does not have easy access to why we conduct a census every 10 years. They have a very interesting FAQ about the 2000 Census, and an interesting page on the history of the Census. On that page, you'll find this:

The sole purpose of the censuses and surveys is to collect general statistical information from individuals and establishments in order to compile statistics. The confidentiality of replies is important. By law, no one — neither the census-takers nor any other Census Bureau employee — is permitted to reveal information that could identify any person, household or business.

But I couldn't find anything that just answers the why question.

My search continues.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jul 19, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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