According to an Associated Press report, a computer system that the Census Bureau is using to manage its door-to-door count of the US population is full of software bugs, and is prone to crash.
The Paper Based Operations Control System (PBOCS) has not functioned reliably in tests Despite hardware and software upgrades, it “may not be able to perform as needed under full operational loads,” the US Government Accountability Office said. “So far, it is not as stable as it needs to be,” GAO Strategic Issues Director Robert Goldenkoff said before the start of a recent Congressional hearing on the Census.
The paper-based system’s hasty design began in early 2008, after the Census Bureau scrapped plans to use handheld-computers that didn’t work. That blunder alone cost taxpayers more than $700 million. Returning to a paper-based method has increased the cost of the 2010 Census by about $3 billion.
PBOCS will generate assignments for the roughly 635,000 enumerators hired to visit about 48 million homes to count people who did not return their forms by mail. Instead of getting instructions from the cell phone-like handheld machines as planned, enumerators will receive assignments on paper.