Calling on Industry for Census Help

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., issued a statement today calling on the private sector and academia to come up with ideas to reduce the cost of the 2010 decennial census, including technologies that may keep costs in check. Coburn has been critical of the Census Bureau's decision not to use the Internet for the decennial census. The Census Bureau estimates the 2010 Census will be $11.5 billion, which is an increase of $200 million from an estimate it had been quoting just a couple of months ago.

According to the statement:

The Census Bureau’s reluctance to employ new methods and online tools goes against the grain of common sense. If we can collect taxes online from any tax filers, surely we can count every American quickly, inexpensively and accurately,” Dr. Coburn said.

At a hearing this afternoon of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management (FFM), the Census Bureau will announce that the most recent cost of the next census is estimated to be at least $11.5 billion.

The Census Bureau has developed and is testing handheld computers as a way to reduce costs, as I wrote about for Government Executive Magazine this month. But much of the savings from the handhelds ($445 million) that the bureau is banking on has mostly been overtaken by rising costs, which are expected to continue to rise as we move closer to the 2010 census, according to the General Accountability Office.