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The Field Data Collection Automation (FDCA) project for the United States Census is very important for

several reasons. The data collected by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is used to determine the population of the United States. The important part of this data is determining in what areas people are living. This data is used to allocate congressional seats, federal assistance, and the realignment of the boundaries of legislative districts. These boundaries are used to determine elected officials, and federal assistance in the form of money to state and local governments. This money is used to fund schools, maintain roads, parks, and many other important pieces of a communitys infrastructure. An inaccurate population figure can aff ect the flow of millions of dollars to a local community. A community that does not receive the proper federal funding is forced to raise taxes or decrease services to its residents. The Field Data Collection Automation project encountered problems due to errors by both the Government Accountability Office and the contractor hired to supply and run the equipment Harris Corporation. The government did not provide the proper executive oversight for a project of this importance. This lack of oversight leads to poor planning and contract with Harris Corporation full of inefficiencies. The lack of accountability and performance incentives created a lot of areas for this project to fail. The inability to hold any one accountable made it impossible to develop a system with the proper technology and equipment to successfully complete the census. These problems lead to the need to add 418 additional requirements to the original 600 requirements in the beginning contract. This led to many cost overruns leading to the need for an additional $3 billion dollars over the original $595.7 million awarded to the Harris Corporation in the original contract. The Harris Corporation was at fault for trying to use improper technology and equipment, and not having the experience to handle a project of this size. The inexperience led them to not knowing what types of products to develop and implement to handle the large amounts of data being collected. The use of a handheld device with the inability to process information fast enough is a huge mistake on their part. The Harris Corporation should have tested their handheld devices prior to bidding the contract and made sure the devices were able to perform at the speeds necessary to process information and return usable data. The fact that a paper canvassing had to be used as a backup shows the failure on both the Government Accountability Office and the Harris Corporation. The Government Accountability Office and the Harris Corporation could have eliminated a large amount of the issues and extra costs had there been proper planning in the beginning. The entire process should have started by analyzing the problem trying to be solved. Once the problem has been identified then the process of developing a solution can begin. In this case this is where the problem with the handheld units could have been discovered and corrected. Proper evaluation of the entire process would have shown the problems with the entire system and corrections

made prior to implementing the system. This would lead to a system free from errors and generating the correct results. Proper evaluation and design of a system would have eliminated the unnecessary extra cost, and the need to use paper canvassing.

Reference: Essentials of MIS, Ninth Edition, by Kenneth C. Laudon and Jane P. Laudon. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc.