Watchdog says 2020 Census systems are riddled with security flaws

With a census just two years away, the Census Bureau has a cybersecurity problem.

That’s a key takeaway from the congressional watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, which oversees the government’s spending. In a new report published Thursday, the non-partisan agency said that the government’s Census Bureau has only a few months to fix thousands of security vulnerabilities that may put personal citizen data at risk.

Why a Fair and Accurate Census Matters to Thriving Private and Public Sectors

The 2020 Census and the ACS are currently facing fiscal, operational, and policy threats that could jeopardize a fair and accurate count, which would weaken data used by the health care, education, housing, local government, transportation, and manufacturing sectors and could reduce federal funding of critical programs. Stakeholders should engage now in efforts to protect these crucial data collection activities.

Citizenship Question Controversy Complicating Census 2020 Work, Bureau Director Says

The head of the U.S. Census Bureau says the controversy over a new question about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census is complicating its preparations to conduct a national head count.

For the first time since 1950, the Census Bureau will ask all U.S. households about citizenship status, specifically, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"

Minnesota Groups Prep for Challenging 2020 Census

MACS 2020 and the Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership are working for an accurate count.  

Star Tribune July 7, 2018.   Much is at stake as groups scattered across the state get ready for the 2020 Census.   With less than two years until the 2020 census, groups across Minnesota are busy preparing for the tremendous task of tallying the state's residents -- From Bemidji to Brooklyn Park, Waconia to Worthington and everywhere in between.

Former Government Officials Urge 2020 Census Cyber and Data Security Transparency

A large group of former Federal government officials–including national security and other experts from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Justice–urged Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a letter released yesterday to disclose the 2020 Census’ data protection and cybersecurity policies.

The letter, which called the first electronic census “a moment of both opportunity and risk for our country,” was signed by 11 individuals and one industry group. Ahead of a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Joint Subcommittee meeting tomorrow, the letter was also sent to Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who lead the House committee, as well as Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Clair McCaskill, D-Mo., who lead the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Ultimately, the accuracy of the 2020 Census will be improved by enhancing the public’s confidence in the secure collection and safe storage of that information,” the letter explained.

New Census Bureau Director Nominated

The Census Bureau has been without a director for a year at a critical time in preparation for the 2020 Census.    Steven Dillingham of Virginia would become the Director for the remainder of a five-year term expiring December 31, 2021.  Previously, he served as Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

"Businesses Cannot Afford a Failed Census"

Simply put, the census is a vital tool for business development and growth. Businesses use data derived from the census and the American Community Survey to measure the size of a market for their services. It helps enterprises both large and small make informed decisions, such as where to open new facilities or expand existing ones, how to invest in efficient marketing and merchandising strategies, forecast demand, growth and staffing needs.

Grocery stores use the data to project sales and plan supermarket sites or remodeling existing stores. Health systems use it to determine the need for hospital services, physicians and urgent care facilities in communities they serve, and Nielsen relies on it to calculate television viewership ratings, as well as inform marketing decisions and advertising rates. The examples are endless, and all this is on top of the more than 300 census-guided federal programs, which pump $700 billion each year into communities from coast to coast.

The census is more than an important business issue: An accurate census is a national economic imperative. Unfortunately, this critical resource is facing unprecedented threats, posing serious risks to its success.

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FiveThirtyEight: A Million Children Didn’t Show Up In The 2010 Census. How Many Will Be Missing In 2020?

In today’s Washington, even the Census Bureau is a source of drama. The department has no director. Due to funding constraints, it has abandoned pre-census research in West Virginia and Washington state that was meant to check the integrity of parts of its survey process. It is weighing whether to add a question about citizenship to the decennial census; community groups around the country have spent months imploring Congress and the Census Bureau not to do so. They’re afraid that adding the question would lower response rates and make the survey less reliable.

At stake: nearly $700 billion in federal money and how we decide to apportion congressional representation.

For groups that work to ensure the census is an accurate count of the population, all those issues are concerns — and ones they didn’t see coming. That’s left less time for the more mundane tasks they had expected to be dealing with at the moment, including one that’s little-known outside census circles1: The census is significantly off in its count of how many young children live in the U.S.

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