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What they're saying: A representative from the census said that the Reuter’s story contained “inaccuracies and outdated information,” but would investigate security concerns.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

Go deeper

Americans reflect on Independence Day amid racism reckoning

A Black Lives Matter banner and a United States flag on the facade of the U.S. embassy building in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Simon Shin/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

America's leaders are rethinking how they view Independence Day, as the country reckons with the historic, unequal treatment of people of color during a pandemic which has disproportionately affected nonwhite Americans.

Why it matters: The country’s legacy of racism has come into sharp focus in the weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. From Confederate statues to Mount Rushmore, Americans are reexamining the symbols and traditions they elevate and the history behind them.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 11,031,905 — Total deaths: 523,777 — Total recoveries — 5,834,337Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 2,788,395 — Total deaths: 129,306 — Total recoveries: 790,404 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: The states where face coverings are mandatory Fauci says it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
  5. Economy: The economy may recover just quickly enough to kill political interest in more stimulus.
12 hours ago - Sports

Washington Redskins to review team name amid public pressure

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins have announced they will be conducting a review of the team's name after mounting pressure from the public and corporate sponsors.

Why it matters: This review is the first formal step the Redskins are taking since the debate surrounding the name first began. It comes after weeks of discussions between the team and the NFL, the team said.