The Washington Times reports that the Census Bureau has had to scrap plans to use handheld computers for the 2010 Census and is reverting to a paper-based system, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez testified yesterday. According to his testimony, "problems have developed with the Field Data Collection Automation Program, or FDCA...a key component of the reengineered short-form 2010 Census." Gutierrez said reverting to a paper-based census is expected to increase the cost of the 2010 census by between $2.2 billion and $3 billion, mainly for additional personnel.
In 2006, the Census Bureau awarded a $595 million contract to Harris Corp. to develop more than 525,000 handheld computers for enumerators to use to collect data from Americans who did not send in their census forms. The handhelds were to replace the millions of costly paper forms and maps that enumerators carry when going door to door. However, the project has experienced constant setbacks.