Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Don’t worry, Americans:
You will be counted as part of the 2010 U.S. census—just not as
efficiently as planned, thanks to the meltdown of a major mobile computing implementation that was supposed to bring the huge data-collection project into the wireless age.

The goal was to make participating in the census as easy as signing
for a FedEx package. But while your parcel-delivery service has had the
handheld thing down pat for quite a while now, much of the 2010 census
will still take place on paper—just as it has since 1790, when George
Washington was president.

In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the
investigative arm of Congress, fingered the upcoming census as a
high-risk operation. The designation came as a result of the Census
Bureau’s lagging mobile technology implementation, which was intended to reduce costs while improving data
quality and collection efficiency. The bureau had estimated that
outfitting census takers with mobile devices and providing associated
systems would account for about $3 billion of the estimated $11.5
billion cost of the entire census.

Now those numbers, as well as the timeframe for system testing, are
off the table. The bureau will need an additional $2.2 billion to $3
billion in funding over the next five years to meet its needs, bringing
total costs closer to $14.5 billion.