Wednesday, January 02, 2008

GAO Evaluates Census Technology

Entering into 2008 already, the 2010 census is rapidly approaching. GAO recently completed a review of the key technologies being acquired for the project. The key findings:
  • In one project, the Bureau is modernizing the database that provides address lists, maps, and other geographic support services for the census. This project is on schedule to complete improvements by the end of fiscal year 2008 and is meeting cost estimates.
  • In a second project, the Bureau is acquiring systems, equipment, and infrastructure for field staff to use in collecting census data. Deliverables provided to date include handheld mobile computing devices and installation of key support infrastructure. However, the schedule for this acquisition has been revised, resulting in delays in system development and testing of interfaces. Also, the life-cycle cost estimates for this program have increased, and [GAO] projected an $18 million cost overrun by December 2008. According to the contractor, the overrun is due primarily to an increase in the number of system requirements.

  • In a third project, the Bureau is acquiring a system for integrating paper, telephone responses, and field operations. The software development and testing are on schedule to provide (by December 2007) an initial system to process the major census forms during the Dress Rehearsal activities. However, the system development schedule was revised in October 2005, which is delaying some functionality. For example, a telephone-assistance system that was originally intended to be completed by fiscal year 2008 has been delayed. This acquisition is meeting current cost estimates.

  • Finally, a contract to replace the current system used to tabulate and disseminate census data was recently delayed by about a year (it was ultimately awarded in September 2007). As a result, of the 1-year delay, the Dress Rehearsal activities will use the current tabulation and dissemination system rather than a modernized version.
The dress rehearsal has already begun in San Joaquin County, CA and Fayetteville, NC - two places I used to call home.

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