New GAO Report on 2020 Census COVID Risks

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked at how the Census Bureau will need to counter the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic in completing the 2020 Census. “For example, following COVID-19, door-to-door interviewing may be less likely or effective, affecting both non-response follow-ups and independent surveys that assess the quality of the count.” Operations were delayed, suspended or extended in March, with the headcount only ramping back up in June and data collection extended until October 31.

GAO warned that the Census Bureau will need to consider: continued attention to self-response; carefully communicating pandemic plans to ensure continued operation; achieving and maintaining sufficient staffing levels; revising its approach to communications and partnerships; adjusting plans for Group Quarters and Service-Based Enumeration; monitoring ongoing risks to IT systems implementation; managing disinformation and misinformation; addressing cybersecurity weaknesses; protecting the privacy of respondent data; ensuring data quality under potentially compressed timeframes; and evaluating the impact of census delays on data quality.

2020 CENSUS: COVID-19 Presents Delays and Risks to Census Count. GAO-20-551R: Published: Jun 9, 2020