The Census Bureau “should formalize a contingency plan that includes alternative methods to ensure employees are cleared, hired, processed, and paid in a timely manner” following the failure of key systems in testing, an IG report has said.
The report said that the Decennial Applicant Personnel and Payroll System and the Census Hiring and Employment Check system failed tests of how they would operate during the peak recruiting period, which is to occur in January-March.
It said the former failed five of six scenarios in the most recent test “because it could not meet targeted selection, hiring, and training transaction rates” while the latter “failed all five test scenarios because the system used 100 percent of its processing power, even though the targeted threshold was less than 70 percent.”
While the Bureau is working to address both systems, it has little time to make repairs before the peak season begins and “does not have a documented contingency plan in place in case the proposed solutions do not work . . . these systems must be able to scale to meet the increased demands of nonresponse followup, which is the most expensive decennial census operation.”
The “management alert” report follows a recent GAO report warning that the Bureau has “experienced delays in hiring for its early operations, raising concerns about hiring for peak operations.”