While it doesn't exactly come as a surprise given recent developments, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez has now told a House subcommittee that the Census Bureau will in fact be ditching its much-ballyhooed PDAs in favor of paper and pencil for the 2010 census. According to the AP, that fairly drastic move comes as part of a package of changes that will ultimately add as much as $3 billion to the cost of the census, bringing the total cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 billion. Among other things, Gutierrez said that a "lack of effective communication with one of our key contractors" was one of the factors that "significantly contributed to the challenges." The handhelds will apparently still see some use during the census, however, although only for verifying street addresses using the PDA's GPS functionality. For its part, Harris Corp. (which had the contract to provide the PDAs) put the best spin on things, saying that it was "encouraged that automation and the adoption of new technology is moving forward, even if in a more narrowly focused fashion." Of course, it's still getting its $600 million+, so it can't really complain all that much.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

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Census Bureau goes forward with plans to ditch PDAs