The Census Bureau needs to improve its management of information it gathers from fellow federal agencies and other sources as it prepares for the 2020 headcount, an IG report has said.
The report noted that in order to hold down costs of gathering addresses, names and other data, the Bureau is obtaining records from the Postal Service, IRS, SSA, CMS, the Selective Service System and HUD, among federal agencies. It also has contracts with some commercial data providers.
“The Bureau properly justified projects using administrative records, made payments to data providers in accordance with agreements, and complied with reporting requirements outlined in the agreements. Furthermore, federal data providers were generally satisfied with the way the Bureau manages their administrative records,” a report said.
“However, we also found the Bureau could not provide documentation showing that access to administrative record data was modified in response to staffing changes and did not restrict employees’ access to administrative records when their training had expired … [also,] the Bureau did not delete administrative record data files in accordance with their expiration dates,” it said.
The Bureau prohibits employees from looking at protected information for other than work-related purposes and the IRS separately places its own restrictions on access to information it turns over to the Bureau. However, the report said that because the Bureau could not document how it restricted employee access, the nearly 350 datasets in four projects the auditors examined “may have been at risk of unauthorized browsing or access without a need-to-know.”