So it's not just elections. Seems that paper is the way to go for the national Census, as well. A $600 million contract to Harris Corp. to design and create handheld computers for the census takers is now just yet another government IT fiasco, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, plans to tell Congress today, according to the NextGov blog (or so it claims to be though it sports no RSS).
"Today I am reporting to this committee that we will move forward with the recommendation to use a paper-based [nonresponse follow-up] in the 2010 decennial census," according to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez's testimony he plans to give to the House Appropriations Committee on Commerce, Justice and Science, and which Nextgov has obtained.
Seems a dress rehearsal in May 2007 first identified multitudinous problems; a month ago Gutierrez said there were "significant miscommunication concerning technical requirements between the Census Bureau and Harris."
US Census photo
That smells like typical weak government IT project management syndrome. And Harris was having none of it.
"The handheld devices are one part of a larger, multifaceted process to move from a 'paper culture' to an 'automation' culture appropriate for the 21st century. We understand that such a significant cultural shift presents organizational challenges to any organization, and Harris is encouraged that automation is moving forward, even if in a more narrowly focused fashion. The company and its industry partners are committed to helping the Census Bureau make the 2010 census the most complete, secure and accurate in history."Making the switch back to paper, though unavoidable at this point, raises the cost of the Census some $3 billion to as much as $14.5 billion.