Congress

House panel checks in on Census IT testing

Shutterstock image. Copyright: Michele Paccione.

Time is running out for the Census Bureau to buy, integrate and test IT systems to conduct the 2020 population count. A key House committee wants to make sure bureau officials stick to their schedule.

"We have questions about the status of planned tests for these critical IT components," lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wrote in an Oct. 11 letter to Census Bureau Director John Thompson.

Important decisions have not been made with regard to the Census Enterprise Data Collection and Processing (CEDCaP) initiative, which puts census activity at risk, the letter states.

Lawmakers also said CIO Kevin Smith told the committee that the 65 systems needed to conduct the 2020 census are in various stages of development, and "51 IT decisions related to the 2020 census had yet to be made."

In a report released in September, Government Accountability Office auditors concluded that the Census Bureau lacked sufficient project plans and documentation of risk status updates and mitigation plans for critical CEDCaP projects, according to the committee's letter.

The GAO report also shows that although seven of CEDCaP's 13 major releases are intended to match the operations of the 2020 census, the two schedules do not use the same software, do not automatically update to reflect changes and are not planned through the entirety of census operations.

With end-to-end testing of 2020 enumeration systems set for August 2017, lawmakers said they are concerned that the bureau does not have time to complete the necessary planning and acquisitions.

Lawmakers have asked Thompson for an inventory of the systems that have been identified as required for conducting the 2020 headcount, including their status and details on each system's role in the enumeration.

Bureau officials have until Oct. 25 to respond.

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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