Saturday, May 1, 2010

They Only Have Ten Years To Get This Right

GAO: Census Has Computer Problem

A computer system that the Census Bureau needs to manage its door-to-door count of the U.S. population remained buggy and prone to crash a day before enumerators were set to begin their work, government officials said Friday.

The bureau's Paper Based Operations Control System did not function reliably in tests and, despite hardware and software upgrades, "may not be able to perform as needed under full operational loads," the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report.

"So far, it is not as stable as it needs to be," GAO Strategic Issues Director Robert Goldenkoff said before the start of a congressional hearing on the census.

The paper-based system's hasty design began in early 2008, after the census bureau scrapped plans to use a handheld-computer method that ended up costing more than $700 million but did not operate adequately.

The system will generate assignments for the roughly 635,000 enumerators hired to visit about 48 million homes to tally people who did not return their census forms by mail.

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