This report below comes from the LA TIMES. Keep in mind that the government typically screws things up, and there should be little doubt it will happen here too. Keep in mind that the government spent 10 years and $1B to streamline 95 immigration applications and forms by digitizing them for online use. After a decade of work, the project produced just one digital form and required more time and money. — DML
In less than two years — on April 1, 2020 — the federal government will for the first time rely on the internet to conduct the decennial census used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives, set legislative and congressional district boundary lines, and determine how much federal funding goes where.
But it looks like the Census Bureau has a long way to go to be ready on time. A Government Accountability Office report released Thursday said that “as of June 2018, the Bureau had identified nearly 3,100 security weaknesses that will need to be addressed in the coming months.” But it has fallen behind on its testing schedule and has failed to fill 33 of 58 positions overseeing the contractor hired to manage the technology, which “adds risk that the office may not be able to provide adequate oversight of contractor cost, schedule, and performance.”
And those 3,100 weaknesses include 43 that the GAO said “were considered ‘very high risk’ or ‘high risk’ weaknesses.”
The report also noted that the estimated information technology costs for the census rose from $3.41 billion in October 2015 to $4.97 billion in December 2017, “due, in large part, to the addition of technical integration services and updated costs for other major contracts (such as the contract for mobile devices).” The cost growth since the October 2015 estimate “raises questions as to whether the Bureau has a complete understanding” of the technology costs associated with the 2020 census, the report warned.
There’s not much at risk if they don’t get the cybersecurity portion right — just the personal data of every person completing census questionnaires online, either by themselves or with the help of enumerators who will be deployed with mobile devices to track down and question those who fail to submit their information.