Leveraging Technologies in Public Agencies: The Case of the U.S. Census Bureau and the 2010 Census


Kevin C. Desouza is director of the Metropolitan Institute and associate professor in the Center for Public Administration and Policy at Virginia Tech. He holds a visiting professorship on the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana. His research interests include policy informatics, innovation, design of participatory platforms, and management of information systems. His most recent book is Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas within Your Organization (University of Toronto Press, 2011).
E-mail: kev.desouza@gmail.com

Akshay Bhagwatwar is a doctoral student in the Information Systems Department at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. His areas of research interest are IT adoption, policy informatics, and virtual collaboration.


Emerging technologies are transforming government agencies and the nature of governance and pose new challenges for public managers. Under the leadership of Steven J. Jost, associate director for communications, the U.S. Census Bureau leveraged emerging technologies during the 2010 Census to complete the project under budget while also engaging citizens through the design of viable participatory platforms. The 2010 Census campaign focused on increasing response rates and encouraging citizen participation through innovations in the communication process with citizens and through the infusion of technology. The Census Bureau also effectively managed risks associated with the use of emerging technologies. The authors examine the innovations, the risks, and the effort to manage those risks under Jost’s leadership.