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The Census Bureau is behind its goal of recruiting 2.6 million applicants, a Government Accountability Office report said Wednesday. Graphic: GAO

The Government Accountability Office, the Census Bureau's inspector general and some lawmakers doubt whether the U.S. census, which begins its every-10-year count next month, is ready for prime time, AP's Mike Schneider writes.

Why it matters: The Census Bureau plans to try out a lot of new technology, but some of it is not fully tested.

  • There's a mobile app for census takers who visit the homes of residents who have not filled out the forms by May. Bureau officials are still working to find out why the app sometimes needs to be restarted or reinstalled for it to work properly, according to the GAO.

Cybersecurity is another worry. The census is an attractive target for anyone seeking to sow chaos and undermine confidence in the U.S. government, as Russia did in 2016.

  • In a worst-case scenario, vital records could be deleted or polluted.

The big picture: The Census Bureau says "all systems are go":

  • "The agency promises that responses to the questionnaire will be kept confidential through encryption, and that it's working with the Department of Homeland Security and private-sector security experts to thwart cyber attacks," per AP.
  • The bureau is blocking foreign IP addresses and stopping bots from filling out forms.

What's next: "Between March 12 and March 20, invitations to participate in the 2020 Census will start arriving in households across the country," according to the Census Bureau.

Go deeper: Census data projects shift in states' congressional power

Go deeper

Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Azar says deadly Capitol siege could "tarnish" Trump administration's legacy — Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.