OIG: Census Personnel Systems Unprepared for Peak Demands

Census 2020 image-min

The Census Bureau’s personnel and hiring systems are not ready to scale to meet the peak demand needed for the 2020 Decennial Census, according to a management alert from the Department of Commerce’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The alert, released November 21, noted that during testing that ran from April to July, the bureau’s Decennial Applicant Personnel and Payroll System (DAPPS) failed five out of six test scenarios, and the Census Hiring and Employment Check (CHEC) system failed each of five test scenarios.

The failures in the DAPPS system were attributed to third-party software interfering the system, and the Census Bureau planned to fix and retest the system by December. The CHEC system’s failure was attributed to faulty code that will be replaced by Bureau staff by December as well. However, the issues were a cause for concern for the inspector general.

“The Bureau does not have a documented contingency plan in place in case the proposed solutions do not work. Bureau officials stated that it could limit the number of concurrent users and increase the expected amount of time needed to process transactions,” OIG said.

With peak recruiting expected to start in January 2020, the timeline to fully fix and test the personnel systems is tight, leading the inspector general to propose – but not formally recommend – that the Bureau create a contingency plan to make sure the Decennial Census has the employees it needs. OIG also noted that the issues would be part of a full audit of the Census Bureau’s testing of systems.

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