recommended reading

Commerce secretary questioned about census, satellites

Commerce Secretary Locke today fielded congressional anger and frustration over the major problems he inherited with the politically sensitive 2010 census, huge cost overruns on weather and environmental monitoring satellites and the chronic delays in patent application approval.

Senate Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and ranking member Richard Shelby, R-Ala., demanded to know how he would ensure the census was completed on time, despite the failure of the hand-held computer system, and would count everyone, without political bias. Shelby was particularly concerned about reports that the census director was considering using sampling techniques to overcome any undercount and would use the liberal activist group ACORN to help collect data.

Locke assured the panel he had the resources to complete the census on time, even though it would have to be conducted by paper and pencil; had "absolutely no intention to use sampling," and would not use ACORN or any other organization to collect the census data. He expressed some confidence that the FBI would be able to screen the more than 1 million census collectors, despite its backlog in other background checks.

The subcommittee leaders were equally angry over the mishandling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's two satellite programs, which are expected to cost billions of dollars more than originally planned for fewer satellites. Shelby said the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environment Satellite System was "a complete failure for NOAA and an even bigger failure for the taxpayers."

Locke acknowledged the problems and said the department has implemented many of the management improvements recommended by GAO, but admitted "much work remains to be done." Mikulski complained that the Patent and Trademark Office's record of taking years to approve patents on inventions was blocking innovation and allowing other nations to steal American inventions. "The time for talk is over. It's time for action," she said.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

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

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • 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.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

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

  • 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.


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