Government employees involved in the development of the new digital census system, intended to record all census data in 2020, allege cost overruns, spotty design and foreseeable security concerns, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The obvious parallel — and worst-case scenario — for a faulty census system would be the healthcare.gov rollout disaster during the Obama presidency, which was initially unable to handle the broad scope of its mission. If that's the case with the census, everything from congressional seats to federal funding could be botched for a decade.

Via Reuters, which based its report on 30 interviews with sources associated with the new system, internal communications and budgeting documents, the census system is struggling with problems, including:

  • Design: The system is intentionally designed in a way that makes it difficult to swap out or upgrade faulty code, in favor of a cheaper solution, tangling all aspects of the software together.
    • The contractor hired to build the system is redesigning an off-shelf solution to meet the census' needs, rather than developing from the ground up. Some government workers believe that the commercial system the contractor started with was too far away from the needs of the census to adapt.
  • Budget: The projected cost of building the system ballooned to $167 million — twice the original cost and approximately $40 million more than what the government thought it would pay for in-house programmers to develop it themselves.
  • Security: An internal communication showed concerns that the contractor tasked with defending the site was not adequately staffed to perform digital forensics of a breach. Furthermore, security testing revealed severe enough soft spots to cause internal "panic," including a scenario wherein a computer at a Russian internet address was able to tunnel into supposedly secure areas.

What they're saying: A representative from the census said that the Reuter’s story contained “inaccuracies and outdated information,” but would investigate security concerns.

  • “We are working with leading experts from the public and private sector to ensure the security and performance of our systems make it easy and safe to respond,” the census representative said.

Go deeper:

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"Not enough": Protesters react to no murder charges in Breonna Taylor case

A grand jury has indicted Brett Hankison, one of the Louisville police officers who entered Breonna Taylor's home in March, on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots blindly into neighboring apartments.

The state of play: Angering protesters, the grand jury did not indict any of the three officers involved in the botched drug raid on homicide or manslaughter charges related to the death of Taylor.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated 47 mins ago - World

U.S. no longer recognizes Lukashenko as legitimate president of Belarus

Lukashenko at his secret inauguration. Photo: Andrei Stasevich/BELTA/AFP via Getty Images

rThe U.S. no longer recognizes Aleksandr Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus, the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has clung to power with the support of Russia amid seven weeks of protests that have followed a blatantly rigged election. Fresh protests broke out Wednesday evening in Minsk after it emerged that Lukashenko had held a secret inauguration ceremony.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 31,735,542 — Total deaths: 973,443 Total recoveries: 21,798,488Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 6,925,840 — Total deaths: 201,617 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: CDC director says over 90% of Americans have not yet been exposed to coronavirus — Supply shortages continue to plague testing.
  4. Politics: Poll: 51% of Republicans trust Trump on coronavirus more than the CDC.
  5. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson begins large phase 3 trial — The FDA plans to toughen standards.
  6. Sports: Less travel is causing the NBA to see better basketball.

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