Hand Held Computer
By Constitutional edict, the United States Federal Government is mandated to provide the President with a census count every 10 years. Historically, the census was gathered via mailed forms. In order to acquire the most comprehensive list of addresses ever compiled, specifically designed, single purpose computers were used for the first time in 2009.
The driving force to use the Hand Held Computer was to lessen the enormous amount of paper used in prior census operations. Projected savings were hoped to be in the millions of dollars. Unexpected additional savings were gained due to the effectiveness of the HHC and the reduced (in terms of duration) salaries required. (The AddCAN task was projected to take 8 weeks but was completed in under 6)
The HHC was manufactured by Harris Corporation, an established Department of Defense contractor, via a controversial contract with the Department of Commerce. Secured access via a fingerprint swipe guaranteed that only the verified user had access to the unit. A GPS capacity was integral to the daily address management and the transfer of information that was gathered. Of major importance was the security and integrity of the personal and private information of the populace.
Success and failure
Enumerators (information gatherers) that had operational problems with the device understandably made negative reports. During the 2009 Senate confirmation hearings for Robert Groves, President Obama's Census Director appointee, there was much mention of contracting problems but very little criticism of the units themselves. In rural areas there was a problem with transmission of data to and from the HHC. Since the units were updated nightly with important changes and reprogramming, operator implementation of proper procedure was imperitive. Dramatic dysfunction and delays were caused if the units were not put into sleep mode overnight.
- "Mobile computing and workforce management," Harris, Government Communication Systems. Brochure, copyright 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and National Archives, "Chairman Clay Pleased With Census Address Canvassing Progress." June 08, 2009. Deadlink fixed via Internet Archive. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- By Wade-Hahn ChanMar 28, 2008 (2008-03-28). "Have feds cheapened contract bonuses?". FCW. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- "Census getting back on course, lawmakers told - Oversight". GovExec.com. Retrieved 2013-08-09.