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GAO: Census Bureau Faces Multiple Challenges Amid COVID-19

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the U.S. Census Bureau faces challenges in self-response, operational communication, workforce maintenance, partnerships and other matters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

GAO advises the bureau to address these and other issues such as homeless individual tracking, information technology risk monitoring, disinformation management and cyber vulnerabilities, the government watchdog said this month in a report to Congress. The report builds on cost and progress reviews of U.S. census efforts this year, with a focus on COVID-19 challenges.

GAO also engaged with managers of area census offices to conduct a survey on the bureau’s key field activities, with response rates over 70 percent. The first survey ran between February and March, then a second one occurred in April.

With regard to IT, GAO used official interviews and documented information on the bureau’s cybersecurity, IT development, readiness and testing activities for 2020. The 2020 census holds designation as a high-risk program and GAO has issued over a hundred recommendations to address posed risks.