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.

MyTwoCensus Investigation Part 1: Security Concerns At Data Processing Centers

Background: The United States Census Bureau will be operating three data capture centers to process the information collected from the approximately 300 million Americans who will be counted in the 2010 Census. These data capture centers are located in Baltimore (Maryland), Jeffersonville (Indiana), and Phoenix (Arizona).

After speaking with human resources professionals who have significant knowledge of US government and subcontractor practices, MyTwoCensus is concerned that the screening processes for people who will have access to highly sensitive information is inadequate.

Here are the criteria for employment at the Baltimore data capture center, which is ostensibly similar to the procedures at the other facilities as well:

Job Title: SCA General Clerk I – Paper Data Processing
City: Essex
State/Province: Maryland
Post Type: Full-Time/Part-Time
Requirements: There are basic requirements for BDCC employment which include:

• U.S. citizenship with documentation or Permanent Residency status (requires valid documentation from the past 2 years authorizing employment)
• 18 years of age or older
• High school diploma or GED
• English literacy
• No felony convictions
• Submission of personal information and fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a suitability assessment. All applicants are required to meet Department of Commerce suitability requirements before employment.

MyTwoCensus is extremely concerned that mandatory drug tests are not part of the criteria for these positions because of the access to sensitive material that will inevitably come with the job. We are also concerned that the lax “no felony convictions” clause means that people who have been accused of felonies but have plead guilty to misdemeanors will likely be working in these facilities. In Maryland, the following crimes are considered misdemeanors:

  • Driving with a Revoked License
  • Reckless Driving
  • Petty theft
  • Prostitution
  • Public drunkenness
  • Resisting arrest
  • Failure to appear in court
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism

With so many Americans who have no criminal records currently unemployed, it is even more ludicrous that the standards for these positions are so low.

Another major loophole is that recruiters are trying to fill these positions now (September and October), but the jobs won’t actually begin until the spring (after Census Day – April 1, 2010). This means that during the next 6 months, people who pass background checks may surely be involved in criminal activities, but because of the time lag, their employers will likely never be aware of the situation.

It should be noted that the “Baltimore Data Capture Center will be managed by Lockheed Martin. Its subcontractor partner, CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation), will manage the hiring efforts for the 2,500 new employees, most of whom will be hired starting in December of this year.”

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4 Responses to “MyTwoCensus Investigation Part 1: Security Concerns At Data Processing Centers”

  1. Anonymous CL Says:

    A tangential thought regarding this article…

    As usual for many government contracts, I am baffled at the ‘need’ for a chain of middlemen companies, instead of just hiring the people directly (like the field employees and LCO employees are), or using no more than one middleman company.

    I.E. in this example (assuming there aren’t any additional companies quietly sub-sub-contracting under CSC, as does sometimes happen), why are we paying Lockheed Martin just to pay CSC? Why not pay CSC directly, or pay the actual workers directly?

    In addition to the unnecessary layers of added cost siphoned off instead of being passed down to hiring/paying better quality of workers, it also adds more unnecessary layers of corporate bureaucracy. The more layers between the people who’d most care about the work being done well (the permanent Census RCC/HQ employees who want good data) and the act of actually getting the work done, the more diluted/ineffective things tend to become. Most kids have played the game of whispering a message down a line of people, and the more people it goes through, the more distorted it can get.

  2. Anonymous CL Says:

    PS: The Census Bureau has a National Processing Center that operates all the time, to handle their smaller ongoing surveys, but apparently can’t handle all the Decennial Census surge so they need these temporary additional processing centers to help out. If the Census Bureau can (apparently) run the NPC themselves directly instead of through multiple tiers of contractors, they logically would have the institutional expertise to run the temporary centers directly too.

  3. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Excellent points Anonymous CL! I will surely look into what you have discussed!

    Best regards,

    Stephen

  4. dogtato Says:

    What does drug testing accomplish? It mostly just catches pot smokers which frankly makes as much sense as drug testing for caffeine.

    The other “major loophole” is just silly. Yeah, they’re hiring advance so the employees will have plenty of time to commit felonies and still be able to… wait, they’d be in jail come time to work.

    They hired contractors to run centers presumably because they lack the resources/manpower to run them. They can’t easily increase their number of experienced managers.