Sen. Carper Disappointed With New Technical and Fiscal Problems With the Census

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, this afternoon issued the following statement in response to news today that the Census Bureau will NOT be relying on hand-held computers to gather information as originally planned. Sen. Carper, whose subcommittee oversees the Census Bureau, said:

“I’m disappointed that due to severe management failures, the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau have announced today that census takers will be forced to rely on a paper-based process for the upcoming 2010 decennial census.

“At a time when many other countries rely heavily on technology to efficiently gather census information, it is difficult to understand how the United States government can still rely on paper census surveys.

"I’m equally disappointed to learn that today’s announcement from the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau comes with a massive price tag.  Now that census-takers will be using paper rather than hand-held computers to collect households’ information, we’re told that the entire 2010 decennial could cost more than $14 billion — $3 billion more than we were anticipating just a few weeks ago when I held a oversight hearing on these very issues.

“While we must be willing to pay what it takes to get a quality, accurate census, we are not prepared to write out a blank check.  I look forward to working with my subcommittee ranking member, Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Homeland Security Chairman Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and our full committee to provide the oversight needed in the coming months and years to ensure that we get the best, most cost-effective census we can in 2010 and beyond.

“We must also keep a close eye on the final preparations for 2010 – especially during the upcoming presidential transition – to make sure that the management problems that led to these fiscal and financial problems are not repeated.”