House lawmakers are pushing the U.S. Census Bureau to appoint a permanent CIO as it prepares to undertake its next census in 2020, according to a NextGov report.
The agency has not had a permanent CIO since Brian McGrath left the agency last July.
- For its next census, the bureau wants to employ a number of technologies to help streamline the data gathering process, but lawmakers are concerned about timing.
Agency officials have big plans to use tech to help cut costs on the census, but lawmakers want to make sure they have a CIO in place before that happens.
"Simply put, the American public deserves to have a permanent, accountable CIO at the helm," wrote the top Republicans and Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in a May 10 letter to John Thompson, director of the Census Bureau.
The Census Bureau wants to employ a number of technologies to help streamline the data gathering process, such as allowing some respondents to fill out forms online and equipping fieldworkers with mobile devices for door-to-door visits. But during the last census, a similar plan to use mobile devices dissolved because the agency didn’t build in adequate time for device testing.
"The more complex end-to-end testing—where scaling and operational control of all the field work simultaneously come into play—may remain untested before being deployed in 2020," the letter said. "As a result, we remain concerned about the status of planned tests for these critical IT components."
In January, the bureau said it had settled on a "device-as-a-service" model rather than a BYOD approach, which the agency determined would be too challenging.
Security is another concern, given the number of federal government data breaches. Last July, the U.S. Census Bureau announced one of its databases had been breached. However, the agency said the breach didn't expose data collected on businesses and households. The exposed information included names, addresses, phone numbers, user names and other data of employees.