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FCW : February 2016
February 2016 FCW.COM 23 Counting everybody in the United States is a tough task that seems to be getting tougher. The U.S. population has increased nearly 100-fold since the rst census in 1790, and cer- tain segments of the population are increas- ingly transient and hard to enumerate. But with its plan for the 2020 count, released at the end of 2015, the Census Bureau is seeking to harness the Internet, mobile devices and people themselves to achieve its mission. And in 2016, the plan will be put to the test. The best-laid plans? Key to the strategy for 2020 --- a roadmap Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) called "prob- ably the most ambitious census plan in our nation's history" --- is the Census Enterprise Data Collection and Processing (CEDCaP) program. The 14-part modernization initiative aims to corral the IT functions of Census' myriad surveys into one pen. "CEDCaP is about good government at its very best," said Lisa Blumerman, the bureau's associate director for decennial census pro- grams. "We're on track with it." The bureau conducts more than 100 sur- veys each year, in addition to the big decen- nial counts, and often spins up and down IT resources on a survey-by-survey basis. CED- CaP could boost ef ciencies across the board. Of cials are due to hammer out the pro- gram's details --- particularly relating to the demand the 2020 count will place on systems --- in June. By September, the bureau is due to settle on a broader solutions architecture. For some Census watchers, however, that could be too late. Carol Cha, director of IT acquisition man- agement issues at the Government Account- ability Of ce, told FCW, "The most important thing the bureau can do for 2016 is accelerat- ing those build-or-buy decisions" associated with CEDCaP and other 2020 projects. But Blumerman defended the timeline. "There's risk any time you change a plan," she said. Census of cials are due to start making build-or-buy decisions in mid-March, and most --- but not all --- key decisions will have been made by the time end-to-end test- ing starts in 2017. "That is the right timing for us," she said, adding that testing will really ramp up in 2018. The mobile challenge Census has already tested iOS and Android devices, and the agency will explore more mobile options in 2016, with tests scheduled for April 1 in Los Angeles County, Calif., and Harris County, Texas. Besides giving Census' cloud infrastructure a trial run, the tests will be an opportunity to explore possible mobile strategies: buying devices or allowing enumerators to bring their own, deploying a bureau-developed app or going to the private sector for app develop- ment, and so on. Census had planned to supply enumera- tors with custom mobile devices for the 2010 count but had to ditch the plan when g in 2020 on the planning and execution taking place this year BY ZACH NOBLE
March 15, 2016