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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cost of 2010 census remains elusive, officials tell panel

Overseers of the 2010 census said on Wednesday that it is almost impossible to determine the total cost of the decennial count.

"At this point, it's just unknown" if the cost of the census will ultimately surpass the current estimate of $14.7 billion, Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management Subcommittee, which oversees the count.

A GAO report released at the subcommittee's hearing showed that the first major operation conducted by census workers -- the "address canvassing" campaign to confirm millions of addresses nationwide -- went $88 million over budget, or 25 percent of costs.

Once expected to cost $11.5 billion, estimates of the funds required to conduct the count jumped last year after a failed effort to equip census workers with handheld computers.

Census Director Robert Groves, who took the reins of the bureau in July, acknowledged last month that the agency is revising its methods of cost modeling.

-Carrie Dann, GovExec.com
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