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OK -- one more thing on the Census

Yes, I'm moving on from the whole Census/Internet issue because it is becoming something of an obsession. But, just a bit more on the Census and the Internet because, in case you can't tell, I am just fascinated by the concept of a business that actually argues that the Internet isn't good business. (I'm still searching for other, similar determinations. Internet voting is the closest I can think of right now. Other ideas welcome, of course.)

Anyway, I got to talk to some people knowledgeable about the Census yesterday and they were arguing that the Census, in fact, does use the Internet in all sorts of ways. Census data, for example, is posted on the Census Web site. And the Census posts ads for hiring enumerators online. In fact, the actual count is the only area that the Census does not use the Internet.

Furthermore, the Census, these people argued, does use all sorts of technology. In fact, as FCW's cover story this week, headlined A 21st Century head count, details, the 2010 Census will be the most high-tech ever -- and many are watching it.

As I have explained, I understand, but I'm still not quite sure I buy it. And I'm not sure that the bureau's response doesn't feed the perception that feds are stuck in their ways, not open to new ideas,stogy and out of touch. Perceptions are not always reality, but... they are perceptions. And the government is always under that microscope. The perception of the government -- fair or unfair, and I would argue mostly unfair -- but the perception of the government is that it is not a 'can do' culture like, say, Apple, Google or Microsoft or high-tech, Silicon Valley start-ups.

I wasn't at last weeks hearing, but perhaps a better way to deal with these kinds of situations is, rather then saying all the reasons why something cannot be done, to use Sen. Coburn's tactic and put the challenge out there. Say to the country: We want to figure out a way to use the Internet for the decennial count. It has to be accurate and secure... lay out the requirements... and see what happens.

There are many reasons to not do it, but... there may be opportunities that arise from doing your business in a different way.

All that being said, after reading the Census Internet document and talking to a number of people who know the Census well, I have renewed faith in the count. These are people who take their mission very seriously.

And it will be interesting to watch to see if the Internet gets... how did the Senator put it?... if it gets 'shoved down their throats.'

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jul 26, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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