Two senators involved in oversight of planning for the next census, now just two years away, are raising concerns about the Census Bureau’s readiness, and in particular about the continued lack of appointments to the top two positions.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Tom Carper, D-Del., asked the White House to immediately appoint a director and deputy, saying “it is imperative that the Census Bureau has the leadership it needs to ensure an accurate and cost-effective enumeration in 2020.”

They cited recent testimony from GAO before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee warning of issues which they summarized as “failure to adequately plan and test key innovations that could make the 2020 Census more successful and most cost effective; IT systems that are not adequately prepared and have not received the necessary security certifications; and the inability of the Census Bureau to control costs and prepare reliable and accurate cost estimates.”

Such issues require the involvement of top leadership to resolve, they said.

The agency IG’s office has raised similar concerns and in November began an audit of the Bureau’s Enterprise Data Collection and Processing – CEDCaP, program to determine if critical systems will be ready to test during the next big test, the so-called 2018 End-to-End Census Test.

The IG is looking into whether critical systems will even be ready to test, if the Bureau has appropriate contingency plans in place to mitigate the risk of deficiencies in any of the relevant systems, and if there are cost issues that will affect readiness of any of these systems.