As the 2020 Decennial Census begins its count of the U.S. population, the Census Bureau faces “significant risks” that could impact the count, including IT and cybersecurity challenges.

According to testimony given before the House Oversight and Reform Committee by Government Accountability Office (GAO) Managing Director for Strategic Issues J. Christopher Mihm and IT and Cybersecurity Director Nick Marinos, the Census Bureau “continues to face challenges related to addressing cybersecurity weaknesses, tracking and resolving cybersecurity recommendations, and addressing numerous other cybersecurity concerns.”

GAO has made 112 recommendations over the past decade that are specific to the Census with 28 having not been fully implemented as of February 2020.

The Bureau is currently running behind on some of its goals, including addressing concerns with its internet response system and finalizing a contingency plan for the system. Additionally, the Bureau faces other challenges related to social media disinformation and protecting privacy of respondent data.

“Without timely and appropriate actions, the challenges previously discussed could adversely affect the cost, accuracy, schedule, and security of the enumeration,” the testimony read.

GAO had been asked to provide regular updates on the progress of the 2020 Census and continued leadership attention will be needed going forward as the Bureau prepares for data collection, the testimony states.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.