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Having Trouble with New American Factfinder? GPO suggests a workaround browser problems

The “workaround” is to clear your browser’s cache, cookies, and history. The Census Bureau also suggests viewing the site in either Internet Explorer 9 or 8. The Bureau and its contractor should be really, really embarrassed about this and fix it quickly.

  • Workaround Solution for Redesigned American Factfinder Browser Issues. FDLP Desktop (31 January 2013).

    The U.S. Census Bureau has brought to our attention that the newly redesigned American FactFinder does not render properly in some Web browsers. Users have reported issues with various versions of Mozilla Firefox (FF) and Internet Explorer (IE).

    The Census Bureau is investigating the matter. In the meantime, their recommendation is to clear the browser’s cache, cookies, and history as a temporary solution. In addition, they recommend viewing the site in either IE 9 or 8. If issues are encountered, the following instructions are specific to IE 8 and up.

    1. Click on the “Tools” icon.
    2. Select “Internet Options”.
    3. Under the “General” tab, click on the “Delete” button under “Browsing history”.
    4. Select the following:
      • Temporary Internet files
      • Cookies
      • History
    5. Deselect:
      • “Preserve Favorites website data”
    6. Click on the “Delete” button.

    To clear the browser cache, cookies, and history for other browsers, visit the American FactFinder FAQ or check the browser’s Web site for browser-specific instructions.

    Be advised that clearing your browser’s cache, cookies, and history may impact saved sessions for other Web services.


FOIA request about the cost of American Factfinder with pointers to MuckRock and census.ire.org

I ran into this odd post recently about the US Census Bureau’s census tool called American Factfinder — odd because it was mix of interesting, fact-based reporting with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek facetiousness. Nursing a “long-standing grudge against another piece of contractor-built government software,” William Hartnett (who may or may not be a journalist) decided to submit a FOIA request to find out how much it cost to build and then wrote a post about it entitled “The U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder, which everyone in the universe hates, cost taxpayers $33.3 million. So that’s great.”

Hartnett’s FOIA request garnered an amazingly quick response from the US Census Bureau:

The name of the company that developed the current version of the American FactFinder web application is IBM U.S. Federal and the total $33,340,681.00.

While I’m the first to admit that FactFinder is a difficult and confusing tool to use (not to mention that the Census Bureau decided not to host the 1990 census data on AFF2 but instead to only make it available for download on their FTP server!), I would put it in neither the “useless boondoggle” nor even the “steamy pile of sh*t” category. But at least now we now know how much FactFinder cost to build.

Besides that little informational tidbit, Hartnett also provided pointers to 2 Web sites of interest:

Muckrock: This site, for a small fee (not clear if they’ll manage your FOIA fees exemption), helps researchers, journalists and the public submit and manage their FOIA requests, and scans and makes them available to the public. Check out the FOIA requests currently in their queue. You can follow @MuckRockNews on twitter.

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) has a Census project “designed to provide journalists with a simpler way to access 2010 Census data so they can spend less time importing and managing the data and more time exploring and reporting the data.” This is a great example of a useful tool built from bulk data supplied by the US Census Bureau! Check out the tool and let us know what you think.

Reminder: legacy American FactFinder to be discontinued January 20, 2012

Just a reminder to all my docs librarian peeps: The American FactFinder’s old interface (which many think is easier to use than their new interface!) is going away and American FactFinder2 will be the default interface to access data and statistics from the US Census Bureau. I hope FactFinder2 will make links to the 1990 census and older data sets (see the list below) VERY transparent. It’s a real shame that those older data sets won’t be accessible via the new search interface but only via FTP.

The Census Bureau will be ending the legacy version of American FactFinder on January 20. Any deep links into the discontinued system will no longer work, including links to:

  • 1990 Census
  • 2000-2004 American Community Survey
  • 2000-2001 Supplementary Survey
  • 1997 Economic Census
  • 2003 Annual Survey of Manufactures
  • 2003 Nonemployer Statistics

These products will only be available through an archived FTP format. All other current and previous year data from the American Community Survey, Puerto Rico Community Survey, Annual Population Estimates, Economic Census, and Annual Economic Surveys are available in the new American FactFinder. Access the how-to guide for Building Deep Links into the New American Factfinder to learn how to create links.