Census has data problems, Towns warns

The 2010 census is at high risk because of uncertainty about how its data systems will operate and the situation requires immediate attention, according to two senior House Democrats.

President Barack Obama should nominate a census director immediately and the Senate should confirm official soon to begin solving the problems, Reps. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., and William Clay, D-Mo., said in a joint statement Feb. 12. Towns chairs the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, and Clay chairs the Subcommittee of Information Policy, Census and National Archives.

“The Obama administration inherited a Census Bureau that has failed to demonstrate its ability to successfully carry out the 2010 Census,” they wrote. “We are deeply concerned that the Census Bureau will not be able to complete its constitutionally mandated responsibility to count U.S. residents without immediate and sustained attention from the administration.”

The Government Accountability Office designated the 2010 census as a high risk in March 2008 because of bureau’s development problems with and limited testing of information technology systems and programs that will be used to collect household data.

Republicans recently have criticized Obama for his plan to have the Census Bureau director report to the White House. Obama’s nominee to head the Commerce Department, the parent department of the Census Bureau, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., on Feb. 13 withdrew from consideration, citing policy differences with the administration.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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