Census Bureau head says IT concerns are being remedied

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Information technology problems at the U.S. Census Bureau have been fixed or are in the process of being remedied, despite recent reports raising concerns about the bureau’s preparedness for the 2020 Census, the agency’s director said Monday.

Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham said in a brief interview with The Associated Press during a visit in Florida that the agency’s IT systems are undergoing “some tremendous testing.”

“There were some previous reports … that have been overcome by events in that we have made the progress needed in remedying them,” Dillingham said while visiting Orlando City Hall.

Dillingham was in Florida to promote the Census Bureau’s efforts to recruit and hire as many as 500,000 temporary workers for next spring’s 2020 Census. The once-a-decade head count is the largest peacetime operation by the federal government. The peak recruiting season starts next month.

An Inspector General’s report last month said the Census Bureau count could be hampered by under-performing computer systems for hiring and payroll. Because of inadequate infrastructure or software inefficiencies, they were unable to perform at the scale needed to support peak recruiting for the 2020 Census, the report said.

“There are sometimes some delays, but those delays are being remedied and I think we are in a great position, so we should have everything operating very well,” Dillingham said Monday.

In response to the Inspector General’s report, the Census Bureau said last month that the report relied on an “outdated” draft of a document that was no longer current.

Separately, a news report by Reuters last week said a contractor-built website for the Census Bureau was hacked from IP addresses in Russia during 2018 testing of census systems. The news agency cited two unnamed security sources who said there was no resulting damage or stolen data.

The Census Bureau in a statement last week said it was looking at the concerns, “even though this story, as published, contains inaccuracies and outdated information…”

“When it comes to IT security, we have been working on that for years,” Dillingham said Monday. “We are working with the best minds in the private and public sector.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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