Feeds

US census ditches handhelds for clipboards

Back to pen and paper

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. ®

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.