IT Problems Put Accuracy of Census at Risk, Say Government Auditors

I wish I could talk more about the Census at this point… I’ll just let others talk about it:

Information technology problems at the U.S. Census Bureau could cause inaccuracies in this year’s constitutionally mandated count of the U.S. population, according to government auditors.

“IT problems place the efficiency and accuracy of Non-Response Follow-Up at risk and final decennial costs remain uncertain,” said Judith Gordon, the principal assistant inspector general for Audit and Evaluation at the Department of Commerce, in testimony before Congress last week.

Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) is the Census Bureau’s program for sending people into the field to count people who have not returned mailed Census forms. The NRFU is the Census Bureau’s largest operation and involves personally interviewing millions of people nationwide.

Robert Goldenkoff, the director of strategic issues for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), told that “an estimated “50 million housing units out of a mail-out universe of about 120 million” will be non-respondents that will require an in-person follow-up to count.

The Census Bureau is specifically having problems with two IT systems. One is the Paper-Based Operational Control System (PBOC), which is the computer database where Census Bureau field operatives upload the data they collect from people who did not mail responses to the bureau.

The second is the Decennial Applicant Personnel and Payroll System (DAPPS), which is the system used to keep track of, and pay, the more than 600,000 temporary federal workers who help conduct the Census operations.

Last Thursday, the GAO released a report on the Census Bureau’s IT problems entitled, “Data Collection is Under Way, But Reliability of Key Information Technology Systems Remains a Risk.” The report indicated that the government has known about the problem for some time.

The report stated that last February, the GAO had testified that “key IT systems — most notably an automated system used to manage field-data collection known as the Paper-Based Operations Control System (PBOCS), and a personnel and payroll processing system called the Decennial Applicant Personnel and Payroll System (DAPPS) — were experiencing significant performance issues.”

The new GAO report concluded that IT problems have not been solved…

More Here: IT Problems Put Accuracy of Census at Risk, Say Government Auditors

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