Census

America to Census: 'No comment'

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The Census Bureau will soon be accessing personal information on the U.S. population from the IRS, the Social Security Administration and state agencies and incorporating it into the bureau's database.

It seems Americans have nothing to say about that.

As bureau officials work on ways to streamline activities and lower the costs associated with the 2020 national headcount, linking to administrative records -- information other government organizations maintain for the purpose of administering programs and providing services -- has emerged as a key way to do both while enhancing the quality of Census' data.

However, a recent Government Accountability Office report notes that Census still has work to do on incorporating the records.

In a Sept. 17 Federal Register notice, Census proposed seven changes to its Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program that pertain to storing and accessing information gleaned from the IRS, SSA, other Census surveys and State Employment Security Agencies.

Among the categories are demographics, economic and business data, and respondent contact information, which could include personally identifiable information. The bureau's notice addressed potential concerns about security and anonymity.

"Records are maintained within a secure, restricted access environment where direct identifiers have been deleted and replaced by unique serial identification numbers (PIK)," the notice states. "The records can be retrieved by the PIK by only a limited number of persons sworn to uphold the confidentiality of Census Bureau data and who have a need to know."

Written comments on the proposed changes were due by Oct. 19, but in an Oct. 30 update, Census officials noted that they had received zero comments.

Therefore, the bureau is moving ahead with the changes.

A Census spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

About the Author

Zach Noble is a former FCW staff writer.

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