Cost of 2010 census remains elusive, officials tell panel

Overseers of the 2010 census said on Wednesday that it is almost impossible to determine the total cost of the decennial count.

"At this point, it's just unknown" if the cost of the census will ultimately surpass the current estimate of $14.7 billion, Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management Subcommittee, which oversees the count.

A GAO report released at the subcommittee's hearing showed that the first major operation conducted by census workers -- the "address canvassing" campaign to confirm millions of addresses nationwide -- went $88 million over budget, or 25 percent of costs.

"We deserve tighter controls or better estimates, one of the two," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ranking member of the panel.

Once expected to cost $11.5 billion, estimates of the funds required to conduct the count jumped last year after a failed effort to equip census workers with handheld computers.

Census Director Robert Groves, who took the reins of the bureau in July, acknowledged last month that the agency is revising its methods of cost modeling.

At the hearing, Census officials pointed to several factors that make the final cost difficult to predict.

A low rate of response to the mailed census would mean higher costs, for example, because more census workers would have to be dispatched to retrieve the forms in person.

Officials noted flaws in the bureau's process for fingerprinting its temporary workers as part of their criminal background checks.

Robert Goldenkoff, director of strategic issues at GAO, told senators that as many as 200 workers who participated in the address canvassing effort may have committed crimes. Adequate background checks would have prevented their hiring, he said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.