CIO who oversaw the first ‘online census’ leaves Census Bureau

(Census Bureau)

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The Federal Housing Finance Agency named Kevin Smith its chief information officer after he left the Census Bureau.

He took over for acting CIO Tom Leach, who remains the agency’s chief technology officer, on Jan. 3.

Smith is no stranger to the federal CIO role, having spent the last four years as the Census Bureau‘s CIO. His last day there was Dec. 31, 2020.

As the bureau’s CIO, Smith led its IT program and oversaw the launch of enterprise services essential to 2020’s first primarily online census. That included emerging technologies for data collection, analytics, processing and dissemination.

Still, the 2020 census faced its fair share of challenges, namely the COVID-19 pandemic. Initial census results were delayed from Dec. 31 to April 30 due to the interruption in the collection of responses.

The delay gives data scientists extra time to resolve any processing issues that may arise during the apportionment process, where state population counts are used to determine the number of seats they get in the House. IT systems doing the processing faced an increased risk of defects because testing was fast-tracked to end in October, rather than January, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Initial census results will include total population counts for the nation; states; Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico but not demographic breakdowns by race, sex and ethnicity. Those will come in a later release, according to the bureau.

“If this were a typical decade, we would be on the verge of delivering the first round of redistricting data from the 2020 Census,” wrote James Whitehorne, chief of the Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office, in a blog on Friday. “However, COVID-19 delayed census operations significantly.”

The bureau’s focus on apportionment means redistricting counts won’t be delivered to states until Sept. 30, he added.

Census Deputy CIO Skip Bailey is performing the bureau’s CIO duties until a replacement is hired through an executive search process.

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2020 census, CIO, coronavirus, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Government Accountability Office (GAO), Kevin Smith, U.S. Census Bureau
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