The Internet is too Risky for the Government

by Sandra Fathi on August 9, 2007

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In an attempt to stave off any modernization of the government, Census Bureau officials say that the 2010 population count is too important to trust to the Internet. The Census Bureau hired Mitre to analyze the feasibility of using the Internet to gather data for the 2010 census. Mitre’s conclusions:

  • The overall response rate would not increase. (What planet are they on?)
  • The Internet would add substantial perceived and actual risks. (More than thousands of census officials walking around collecting information by hand or mail?)
  • The bureau would not have enough time for a large-scale test before the actual census. (3 years? Not enough time? Good thing the Census Bureau is not a for-profit organization.)
  • The cost of creating the option of filling out the census online would be $22 million, and the potential savings less than $5 million. (Since when is $5 million dollars insignficant?)

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) summed up my feelings by stating that he is appalled that the bureau is stuck in the 20th century and refuses to use the Internet. He claims that 70 percent of the country’s population is connected to the Internet and about 50 percent has broadband.

You can read a full article on the subject in Federal Computer Week¬†along with some lively commentary on the magazine’s blog.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Daniel Castro 01.29.08 at 4:32 pm

Hi Sandra,

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) decided to revisit this issue by taking an in-depth look at the MITRE report and what other countries have been doing with online data collection for their census.

Our report is now online at — http://www.itif.org/index.php?id=120

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