2010 U.S. census will be 'most expensive' ever, officials say
Estimated $14B cost includes $3B for IT gear; census cost $44,000 in 1790 -- with no IT
Computerworld - A government watchdog agency is sending up warning flares about the readiness of U.S. Census Bureau IT systems being used in the 2010 census project, which is set to begin on April 1 of next year.
In a report released yesterday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office predicted (download PDF) that the 2010 census will be "the most expensive census in the nation's history, even after adjusting for inflation." The Census Bureau has estimated the total cost of the project at more than $14 billion. The first U.S. census was conducted in 1790 at a cost of $44,000 and counted 3.9 million people. (See chart showing cost of past censuses.)
The cost of the 2010 census includes $3 billion for IT equipment, the GAO noted.
One of the biggest costs for the Census Bureau is for the 600,000 temporary workers needed to collect data from an 47 million households not expected to respond to mailed questionnaires. The bureau had planned to use handheld computers for that effort, but it was forced to revert to paper-based follow-up surveys after testing turned up problems with the handhelds. The bureau's decision to use paper adds up to $3 billion to the total cost of the census, the GAO said.
The Census Bureau turned to the paper-based polling plan to "reduce the risk of system or operational failure," Thomas Mesenbourg, the agency's acting director, told a U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee yesterday.
Mesenbourg, in prepared testimony (download PDF), also told the committee that all census systems and interfaces will be tested in time to keep the census on schedule. The Census Bureau "is on solid ground as the 2010 census begins," he added.
While the government faces an unmovable Dec. 31, 2010, deadline to complete the census, the deadlines for completing tests on IT systems critical to the process continue to slip, according to the GAO report.
The GAO warned that "decreasing time available for completing end-to-end testing increases" the risk that testing of key operations will not be completed on time.
James White, the Census Bureau's associate undersecretary for management, responded that the the bureau is refocusing its testing process on new software and systems and "not on things that have worked before."
"While risks remain, we are managing those risks," wrote White.
In a report released last March, the GAO had placed the census automation project on its "high risk" list, after census officials said that cost overruns of as much as $3 billion would bring the total cost to more than $14 billion.
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
If you use ‘password,’ one the worst passwords, as your password, fail to keep antivirus protection updated and don’t bother to deploy security patches to close critical vulnerabilities, then maybe you should consider working for the cybersecurity-clueless federal government; you’d fit right in, according to Senator Tom Coburn's cybersecurity and critical infrastructure report.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Mobile Policy Checklist
- Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Mobile Applications Case Study: 8 Billion Transactions a Day
- The story documents how the online brokerage company tradeMONSTER created a custom mobile app and the success gleaned from this initiative. Also covered...
- Who's afraid of the big (data) bad wolf? Survive the big data storm by getting ahead of integration and governance functional requirements
- This paper provides a detailed review of the best practices clients should consider before embarking on their big data integration projects.
- Understanding big data so you can act with confidence
- Automating information integration and governance and employing it at the point of data creation helps organizations boost confidence in their big data. All Government IT White Papers
- Mobile Apps and Devices Slash Customer Cycle Time Consolidated Engineering Laboratories' field employees used to collect data on triplicate forms that were sometimes hard to read and difficult to manage. After...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- Testimonial: Cystic Fibrosis Trust Peter Hawkins, the Head of IT for Cystic Fibrosis Trust, discusses the role CommVault's Simpana software platform plays in improving the company's information...
- PST Archiving: What is it and How is it Done? Learn more about what PST data is, the risks relating to it, and how the new PST Archiving feature in the Simpana 10...
- How to Select the Right IoT Platform We are rapidly entering a world where almost everything will be connected to the cloud and managing these connected things and leveraging the...
- All Government IT Webcasts