Preparation for the 2020 Census is overall on-track, according to the second quarter Census Goal Action Plan, but the Census Bureau still faces the challenges of upscaling Area Census Offices (ACOs) to expand operations and recruiting and hiring the staff it needs to conduct the 2020 decennial.
The Census Bureau aims to enable internet response to the 2020 census for the first time next year, while also bolstering security controls to protect data. Despite recent Government Accountability Office reports flagging IT system and cybersecurity risks, the Action Plan highlights steady progress the Bureau is making toward a “complete and accurate 2020 Decennial Census.”
The Action Plan highlighted strides that the Census Bureau has made this year, including the finalization and delivery of the Census Operational Plan 4.0, which required “balancing data accuracy and funding constraints against an official schedule fixed by statute, while sustaining the highest levels of cybersecurity as systems are developed and deployed.”
The Bureau has also met its target this quarter to update the 2020 Census Architecture and IT road map, which capture the scope and progress of major system integration, and the Bureau met its goal of approving the testing readiness review for addressing canvas operational delivery.
Although the Bureau did not meet first quarter completion of the Authorization to Operate process for the census, the second quarter completion update indicated that the Bureau caught up in making sure its systems are secure.
Additionally, the Bureau struggled to meet its goal to complete the first open wave of ACOs this quarter.
“The opening of the Birmingham, AL Wave 1 ACO encountered challenges,” the Action Plan said. “Census Bureau has mitigation activities in place that enable completion of the operational requirement.”
The Bureau is also struggling to gather the workforce it needs to conduct the census in full next year, a long-term problem ahead, especially with the low unemployment rate.
As the Bureau continues preparations for the decennial next year, the Action Plan highlighted other mitigation strategies the Bureau has in place for the upcoming census’ cybersecurity, 2018 end-to-end census test internet connection and resources, and questioning logistics.