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GAO Discusses 2020 Census Risks

​The 2020 U.S. Census is already underway, but the U.S. Census Bureau has not adequately addressed the security risks involved, according to a new report the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Bureau Needs to Take Additional Actions to Address Key Risks to a Successful Enumeration.

"Although the Bureau has taken initial steps to address risk, additional actions are needed as these risks could adversely impact the cost, quality, schedule, and security of the enumeration," the report says.

The 2020 Census is on the GAO's list of high-risk government programs primarily because of three reasons. One is that the Census Bureau is using not expected to have enough time to fully tested the new procedures and equipment it is using.

The second is that the Census Bureau continues to face challenges in successfully implementing new information technology systems.

And the third is that the Census Bureau faces significant cybersecurity risks to its systems and data. For this census, the Census Bureau is introducing new technology that will facilitate online survey-taking. These new methods may reduce overall cost, but many are concerned that they will increase security risks.

In recent years, GAO has made 107 recommendations relating to the 2020 Census to help address security and other issues. As of this month, 32 of the recommendations had not been fully implemented. The new report contains more recommendations to address the continuing risks.

For more information on census security, see the Security Management article "Census Scrutiny."