Feeds

US census ditches handhelds for clipboards

Back to pen and paper

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The US is giving up plans to issue researchers with handheld computers for their 2010 census, as changing specifications have driven the cost of each one beyond $8,500.

The next census is scheduled for 2010, and the US Census Bureau hired Harris Corp to create handsets suitable for the half-million researchers who have to knock on doors collecting the data.

The project was supposed to cost $600m, or about $1,200 per handset, but the Washington Post reports that changing requirements and badly estimated costs have driven the price up to $1.3bn for only 151,000 devices.

The handsets do have GPS and wireless connectivity to allow dynamic collection of the collected data, but that's hardly sufficient to account for a per-unit cost of $8,609.

The Census Bureau blames Harris Corp for misunderstanding its requirements and underestimating the complexity of the project. Harris blames the Census Bureau for failing to provide proper specifications and making 417 separate changes to the project during its lifetime.

Various groups, including the Government Accountability Office and House Appropriations Committee, have been picking over the problem and concluded that it was lack of communication on both sides that led to the ballooning costs. Harris had failed to take into account the cost of supporting users, as well as the complexity of the task the devices are expected to perform.

The last US census, in 2000, is estimated to have cost about $4.5bn (about $16 per person), but 2010 is going to break all records with an overall cost of $14.5bn.

For comparison, the last UK census, in 2001, came in at £254m – about $10 per person. It remains to be seen how much Deutsche Telecom can spend on the UK 2011 census. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.