A High-Risk Census?

In 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report deeming Census 2020 "High Risk."   

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What does this mean?
One of the main tasks of the GAO is to call attention to federal programs and initiatives that are at high risk of not meeting their program objectives/mandates or are most in need of transformation. In their 2017 report, the GAO called out three areas of concern around Census 2020, leading to its "high risk" assessment.  These include:

 

Implementing Innovations
To address the increasing cost of administering the decennial census, the U.S. Census Bureau plans to implement a number of data and technological innovations to secure a smarter and more efficient census.  The GAO report lists four specific innovations of concern:  1) relying on innovations that are previously unused (e.g. web-based data collection), 2) challenges of using administrative records (e.g. tax returns), 3) the need to better understand household non-response and, 4) recent decisions to cancel field testing. 

 

Critical Information Technology Uncertainties
The redesign of the 2020 census incorporates a number of new and modified information technology systems to make the decennial census more efficient, but these sytems also introduce additional challenges and risks.

 

Unreliable 2020 Cost Estimate
The GAO finds that the cost estimate for Census 2020 does not conform to best practices, and therefore falls short of what it considers a high-quality estimate.

 

Future blog posts will adderss these issues in more depth.  In the meantime, for more information, check out the GAO report:

Jason JurjevichTag