My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Archive for March, 2009

Demographic shift: 1/4 of all Kindergarten Students are Hispanic

Friday, March 6th, 2009

According to the Associated Press, census data shows that nearly 1/4 of all kindergarten students are Hispanic. This will likely foreshadow additional data collected during the upcoming decennial  headcount. At 15 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics are the nation’s largest minority group. Minorities are projected to be the majority in schools by 2023, seven years earlier than was estimated in 2004. They are projected to become the majority nationwide by 2042.

Census Bureau not ready for 2010 Count!

Friday, March 6th, 2009

The Washington Post Federal Eye blog reports, “The Eye attended two congressional hearings on the Census on Thursday, and along with colleague Steve Vogel reports that “The accuracy of the 2010 Census remains threatened by computer problems and untested methods the Census Bureau plans to use for conducting the count, according to testimony yesterday from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Sadly, but not unsurprisingly, the news is grim:

At the end of this month, the Census Bureau is expected to begin the first operational phase – setting up a massive address list – for the upcoming 2010 Census. And the next constitutionally-mandated decennial count of the nation’s population is itself a little more than one year away. Two Congressional committees held hearings Thursday to determine if the Census Bureau is ready.

The verdict, after hearings in both the House and the Senate subcommittees with direct jurisdiction over the Census, is that depending on who you talk to, the glass is either half-full, or half-empty.

On the one hand, there is Thomas Mesenbourg, the acting director of the Census, who told the House Census subcommittee that everything is essentially fine, and the problems of the census are all being taken care of:

I can report we are on the way to a successful enumeration. A complete and accurate address list is the cornerstone of a successful census. Throughout the decade, we regularly update the list we had in Census 2000. In 2007, we invited tribal, state, and local governments to review our address lists for accuracy and completeness. Address canvassing, the first activity of the 2010 Census, starts on March 30th, and runs through July of 2009.

The GAO’s comments are the latest to highlight difficulties for the census, which now costs $14 billion and has been beset by partisan bickering. Disagreements over the handling of the census were part of the reason GOP Sen. Judd Gregg, President Barack Obama’s pick as commerce secretary, withdrew his name last month.

However, the Government Accountability Office has other thoughts on the matter. Robert Goldenkoff heads up Strategic Issues for the GAO, and issued a report yesterday saying the Census Bureau is playing beat the clock, with very little margin for error:

The bureau has made commendable progress in rolling out key components of the census, and has strengthened certain risk management efforts. Still, the census remains high risk because a dress rehearsal of all census operations that was planned for 2008 was curtailed. As a result, activities, including some that will be used for the first time in the Census were not tested in concert with one another, or under census-like conditions.

And the GAO’s David Powner, who analyzes Information Technology, has an even harsher assessment of the Census bureau’s IT.

“Our report contains 10 detailed recommendations that the bureau has agreed to address,” he testified before both committees. ” For example, our investigation shows that not only were there not plans for this testing, but there was not even a master list or inventory of the interfaces. Not having such basic information is unacceptable.”

Locke to GOP Senators: Census is independent from White House

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

The Hill: Census plan gets rounded out

Tri-Cities Herald: Census dispute threatens Locke’s confirmation hearing

Reuters: Obama’s 3rd Commerce Pick Makes Rounds in Senate

Born to run…behind schedule

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

One hour ago, the AP reported that the 2010 Census is running way behind schedule, citing congressional investigators’ reports that the decennial exercise in large-scale addition has experienced computer glitches, operational missteps and ballooning costs that could overwhelm the government’s ability to conduct a proper count. Uh-oh!

Meet Gov. Gary Locke, Third String Commerce Secretary Nominee

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Census Reaches New Heights in Cost, Staffing

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

In the past couple of days, Ed O’Keefe’s Federal Eye blog for The Washington Post has been looking eerily similar to My Two Census. Perhaps the mainstream media is finally realizing that the Census is going to be a hot topic of debate for the next three years. Today, O’Keefe provided some great data about the 2010 Census:

The total operation and analysis of the 2010 Census will cost more than $14 billion by the time of its completion in 2012, making it the most expensive head count in American history, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO assessment, released this morning as a House subcommittee with oversight of the Census Bureau met to assess the progress of preparations, once again warns that the agency is still unprepared to perform its constitutionally-mandated duties next year.

*The estimated price tag for next year’s Census will cover what many consider the largest peacetime mobilization of government employees in history.

*The predicted total cost could reach $15 billion, said 140,000 temporary Census workers will “walk almost every street in America,” to check 145 million addresses.

*The economic stimulus package granted $1 billion to the Census Bureau for final preparations, money spent primarily to cover next year’s staffing costs.

The U.S. Census Bureau, an independent agency?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Today, as first reported by The Washington Post, House Democrats will unveiled a that would separate the U.S. Census Bureau from the Commerce Department and make it an independent government agency similar in design to the National Institutes of Health or NASA. “After three decades of controversy surrounding the decennial census, the time has come to recognize the Census Bureau as one of our country’s premier scientific agencies and it should be accorded the status of peers such as NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation,”  Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement.

If passed, the bill would not take effect until 2012, after the completion of the next census. It also would grant the presidentially appointed census director a full five-year term. All of the living former census directors support the bill, saying the collection and analysis of census data should be protected from bureaucratic stress and political scrutiny.

Kenneth Prewitt, who served as census director from 1998 to 2001 and is a leading candidate to serve again, wrote in a 2003 memo that bureau staff occasionally felt “under siege” from political attention and that such concerns “occupied management time that might otherwise have focused on the job at hand.”

The legislation, first introduced by Maloney in 2007, is also sponsored by Republican Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), but it faces opposition from others in the GOP, who are concerned that the Census Bureau has not resolved management issues, including its decision to forgo the use of specially developed handheld computers during next year’s head count. “Simply turning a troubled agency loose at this time is not the answer,” said Frederick Hill, spokesman for Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“A state can lose $300 to $1,200 per person per year for everyone not counted”

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Today, many news sources reported that there are fears in New Mexico that illegal immigrants will be rounded up as a result of the U.S. Census Bureau’s counting efforts. Here’s the crux of the El Paso Times article:

Some residents of the rural, low-income communities are undocumented immigrants who fear being deported.

But the Census Bureau is sworn to secrecy about the information it collects, Vicki McIntire, deputy director of the bureau’s Denver region, told Dona Ana County leaders Tuesday.

“We can never tell any information we gain from a household,” she said. “If I walk into a household and I see a drug deal take place, if I see illegal activity, I cannot report that to the police.”

A worker violating that oath could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, she said.

7.3 million prisoners…

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

My Two Census Statistic of the Week: There are more than 7 million prisoners in America…

A Modest Proposal in Response to the My Two Census Statistic of the Week: If each non-violent American prisoner had the option to ride bicycles connected to power generators for three hours per day to produce electricity for the public (while also improving their health), America would generate tons of cheap renewable energy while also lowering long-term healthcare costs. Sure, we may have to feed prisoners more pasta with marinara sauce to give them the energy needed for such a venture, but the savings would surel make up for this menial cost. And maybe some of our prisoners would turn themselves into next generation Lance Armstrongs, improving America’s credibility and success in global cycling competitions.

Iraqi Census

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

If you think keeping track of people in America is difficult, imagine how hard it is in Iraq. Today, Iraq announced that it will hold its first census in 22 years. However, it will be conducted very differently than the 2010 U.S. Census.  America is now in the process of hiring approximately 200,000 people to work specifically for the U.S. Census Bureau. In October,  Iraq plans to send 250,000 school teachers into local communities to gather population data. Which method will be more effective? Hopefully by Census Day, April 1, 2010, we’ll know the answer.

Case Study: Florida

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Elected officials have good reason to want the 2010 Census counts of their constituencies to be as accurate, errr, or as high, as possible. Today’s MSNBC article uses Florida as a case study that shows how significant population increases result in additional federal funding and representation in Congress. As the article states, there will be “winners or losers in congressional apportionment based on the 2010 census.” This begs the question: What tricks do elected officials have up their sleeves to prevent reapportionment and the loss of federal funding in the event that Census results harm their constituencies?

Gary Locke and Load

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Last week, the Obama administration announced it’s 3rd  candidate to serve as Census Czar (Secretary of Commerce), former Washington governor Gary Locke. Ostensibly, Locke was thoroughly vetted to avoid any skeletons in his closet that would interfere with the confirmation process.

Some articles about the nomination:

FoxNews: Locke Enters Debate Over Obama’s Census Plans

NY Times: Obama Picks New Nominee at Commerce

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Commerce Secretary Nominee Well Known in China

Bloomberg: Obama Says Locke Will Be Ambassador for U.S. Business