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 February, 2010

News from the Keystone State: Pennsylvania Update

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Two interesting stories from Pennsylvania…one from each side of the state:

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, a story about how now deceased Rep. John Murtha’s House of Reps. seat will likely disappear:

The candidate who succeeds the late Rep. John P. Murtha (D., Pa.) in a special election this spring might not want to buy a home in Washington.

That’s because demographers estimate that Pennsylvania will lose at least one seat in the decennial reapportionment of House seats among the states after the 2010 Census – and some political analysts believe the 12th District would be an easy target for state lawmakers reshuffling boundaries before the 2012 elections.

Murtha’s district, which looks somewhat like a crustacean spread over parts of nine counties, was itself gerrymandered into existence to save his job a decade ago, after the Census determined that Pennsylvania would lose two representatives because of sluggish population growth relative to other states.

Even Republicans – who then controlled the state House, Senate, and governor’s office – did not want to lose Murtha or the billions of dollars he steered to Pennsylvania as chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of defense spending.

Murtha, who died at 77 of complications from gallbladder surgery, was buried Tuesday in Johnstown.

From the Philadelphia  Daily News, an article about redistricting within the city of Philadelphia:

IT HAS BEEN almost 10 years since the last redistricting battle was slugged out in City Council, but the wounds are still raw.

That fight, which centered on the Latino composition of upper North Philly’s 7th District and pitted the mayor against the Council president, dragged on so long that Council members went nearly five months without pay.

The final 10-district map featured three twisted, elongated districts that practically define gerrymandering. And during the period without pay, Councilman Rick Mariano took bribes to cover his bills – a decision that landed him in the clink.

“For my colleagues, every time you mention redistricting it’s like a bad toothache,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, who represents the 7th District.

Unsurprisingly, much of Council isn’t exactly excited about revisiting the issue. But next spring, after the 2010 census, they’ll have to redraw the district lines again based on the new population numbers.

The current districts were drawn so each would have about 150,000 residents – or about 10 percent of the city’s population in 2000 – but population shifts inevitably change those numbers, forcing the decennial remap.

After the census numbers are released April 1, 2011, Council must pass a plan and get mayoral approval within six months. If it misses that deadline, Council members’ pay will be withheld – as stated in the Home Rule Charter – which has happened the last two times.

Former Councilman Angel Ortiz, who served as an at-large member during the 1991 and 2001 redistricting debates, said members should buckle their seat belts.

“Rick Mariano threatened to throw me out the window last time,” Ortiz said. “I think it’s going to be a struggle. I think a lot of friendships on City Council may be frayed at the end of this.”

Highlights of the Inspector General’s Latest Report…

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Here are what we think are some of the most important findings of the Inspector General’s recent report:

- The 2010 Census is currently estimated to cost approximately $14.7 billion, reflecting an increase of $3.2 billion over the last 2 years. For this fiscal year, spending on the 2010 Census will total $7.4 billion.

- The ELCOs’ (Early Local Census Offices) production wage costs were 45–186 percent of their budgets and for production mileage they were less than one percent to 250 percent of their budgets. For the quality control phase of the operation, ELCOs’ wage costs were 68–439 percent of their budgets and for mileage were less than one percent to 878 percent of their budgets.

- During the period between January and July 2009, which encompassed the Address Canvassing operation, some employees claimed nearly 3.9 million miles driven at the higher rate, resulting in excess payments of approximately $136,000.

- 604 employees spent the majority of their time driving instead of conducting field work, and of those, 23 employees spent 100 percent or more
of their time driving.

- 15,263 employees received training but worked for less than a single day or did not work at all. Of these employees, 10,235 did not work at all but earned approximately $3.4 million for attending training. An additional 5,028 employees completed training, at a cost of $2.2 million in wages, but worked for less than a single day.

Digest all of that for a while and there will be more to come…

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Heads Should Fly…NOW!!!

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

UPDATE: The Inspector General’s report is available HERE.

Though we are yet to obtain a hard copy of the Inspector General’s report that will be released within the next two hours that details how the Census Bureau went massively over budget during the address canvassing phase of the decennial census, we believe that Census Bureau employees should be held accountable. Without making false accusations,  here is a list of names of people who, according to the positions they hold at the Census Bureau , should be held accountable and punishedmeaning demoted or fired – for this waste (in order of culpability from worst offenders to more moderate offenders…):

1. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR DECENNIAL CENSUS – ARNOLD A. JACKSON

2. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR ACS AND DECENNIAL CENSUS – DANIEL H. WEINBERG

3. COMPTROLLER -  ANDREW H. MOXAM

4. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR FIELD OPERATIONS – MARILIA A. MATOS

5.  HUMAN RESOURCES CHIEF -  TYRA DENT SMITH

6. TECHNOLOGIES MANAGEMENT OFFICE CHIEF – BARBARA M. LOPRESTI

7. FIELD CHIEF – BRIAN MONAGHAN

And while these deputies and senior Census Bureau employees are responsible for their actions, they answer directly to three men: Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves, Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Mesenbourg, and Associate Director For Communications Steve Jost, who are in that order, the three top dogs so to speak at the Census Bureau. Perhaps the man who is most to blame for the widespread failures is Mr. Mesenbourg, who served as Acting Director of the Census Bureau for more than a year before Dr. Groves was installed in office. Mesenbourg continues to oversee an agency filled with miserable and inexcusable performance results, yet he has done little to enact change. Nonetheless, neither Dr. Groves nor Steve Jost should be let slide for these actions. While both of them consistently discuss looking toward the future, they can’t seem to take responsibility for cleaning up the mess that was present at the Census Bureau when they arrived. To play on Shakespeare’s words, “There’s Something Rotten In Suitland!”

BREAKING NEWS FROM THE AP: Audit finds 2010 Census preparations wasted millions

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
H/t to Hope Yen and the Associated Press for the following piece. Of course we are already trying to obtain this complete document to find out the details of exactly what happened…but at the same time, none of this should come as a shock since we’ve been reporting on many examples of blatant waste at the Census Bureau for the past year…
UPDATE: This report from the Commerce Department Inspector General’s Office is now available to the public HERE.

By HOPE YEN (AP) –

WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau wasted millions of dollars in preparation for its 2010 population count, including thousands of temporary employees who picked up $300 checks without performing work and others who overbilled for travel costs.

Federal investigators caution the excessive charges could multiply once the $15 billion headcount begins in earnest next month unless the agency imposes tighter spending controls, according to excerpts of a forthcoming audit obtained by The Associated Press.

On a positive note, investigators backed the Census Bureau’s decision to spend $133 million on its advertising campaign, saying it was appropriate to boost public awareness. The spending included a $2.5 million Super Bowl spot that some Republicans had criticized as wasteful.

The findings by Todd Zinser, the Commerce Department’s inspector general, highlight the difficult balancing act for the Census Bureau as it takes on the Herculean task of manually counting the nation’s 300 million residents amid a backdrop of record levels of government debt.

Because the population count, done every 10 years, is used to distribute U.S. House seats and billions in federal aid, many states are pushing for all-out government efforts in outreach since there is little margin for error — particularly for Democratic-leaning minorities and the poor, who tend to be undercounted. At the same time, the national headcount will employ 1 million temporary workers and is the most expensive ever, making it a visible sign of rising government spending.

The federal hiring has been widely touted by the government as providing a lift to the nation’s sagging employment rate — but investigators found it also had waste.

The audit, scheduled to be released next week, examined the Census Bureau’s address-canvassing operation last fall, in which 140,000 temporary workers walked block by block to update the government’s mailing lists and maps.

While the project finished ahead of schedule, Census director Robert Groves in October acknowledged the costs had ballooned $88 million higher than the original estimate of $356 million, an overrun of 25 percent. He cited faulty assumptions in the bureau’s cost estimates.

Among the waste found by investigators:

_More than 10,000 census employees were paid over $300 apiece to attend training for the massive address-canvassing effort, but they quit or were otherwise let go before they could perform any work. Cost: $3 million.

_Another 5,000 employees collected $300 for the same training, and then worked a single day or less. Cost $1.5 million.

_Twenty-three temporary census employees were paid for car mileage costs at 55 cents a mile, even though the number of miles they reported driving per hour exceeded the total number of hours they actually worked.

_Another 581 employees who spent the majority of their time driving instead of conducting field work also received full mileage reimbursements, which investigators called questionable.

Census regional offices that had mileage costs exceeding their planned budgets included Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Kansas City and Seattle.

Most of the nation will receive census forms in mid-March, and the Census Bureau is asking residents to return them by April. For those who fail to respond, the government will dispatch some 700,000 temporary workers to visit homes in May.

In response to cost overruns, Groves has said he would work to prevent expenses from ballooning further and reevaluate budget estimates for the entire census operation. He has made clear his goal of returning tens of millions of dollars to government coffers by motivating more U.S. residents to mail in their form, which avoids costly follow-up visits by census takers.

As to the Super Bowl ads, Republicans including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have questioned the $2.5 million purchase, which included two 30-second pregame spots, on-air mentions and a 30-second ad during the third-quarter.

The ads, featuring Ed Begley Jr. humorously extolling a new project called a “Snapshot of America,” was widely panned as weak and ineffective by media critics.

“There is a general move in the United States toward more government involvement in the economy. Seeing the U.S. Census spot gives us little confidence that this is going to solve our issues,” blogged Tim Calkins and Derek Rucker, both marketing professors at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

The inspector general’s report said the census advertising was consistent with the government’s goals of boosting participation in the count. The agency has said that if 1 percent of Super Bowl viewers change their minds and mail in their form, it will save taxpayers $25 million to $30 million in follow-up costs.

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Have the Census Bureau’s language translation services been shoddy?

Monday, February 15th, 2010

After receiving some credible tips from readers, on Sunday, February 14, 2010, MyTwoCensus.com filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information about language translation services and the 2010 Census. We’ve heard too many rumors that some of the language translations have been completely sub-par. Was this yet another incident of a contractor screwing up a census contract or was this run of the mill taxpayer theft?

Here’s a copy of our request:

Dear Ms. Potter and Staff:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, I am requesting a copy of the contract paid by the U.S. Census Bureau to Diplomatic Language Services in regard to the 2010 Census. If there are other documents that are-related to the termination of this contract or any controversies surrounding this contract, I would like to receive those documents as well. I am also requesting any memos from staff members of the Census Bureau regarding this contract and/or the quality of services rendered by Diplomatic Language Services in regards to translation activities.

As you probably already know, I run MyTwoCensus.com, the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 Census. My work has also appeared on MotherJones.com, governingpeople.com, and other publications.  Since this is a non-commercial request and the release of these documents will serve the public interest (because analyzing these documents is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government), I am requesting that all fees be waived.

I am also requesting expedited processing of these documents under the clause on your web page that states I can do so if this information is “urgently needed to inform the public concerning some actual or alleged government activity.” With the 2010 Census just around the corner, and recent reports by the Associated Press and other organizations that language translations have been inadequate and sub-par, this request deserves your prompt attention.

If you deny all or any part of this request, please cite each specific exemption you think justifies your withholding of information. Notify me of appeal procedures available under the law. If you have any questions about handling this request, you may telephone me at any time.

Sincerely,

Stephen Robert Morse

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Is your census data really “confidential” if it’s being shared with private and public universities?

Monday, February 15th, 2010

The following report comes from the Associated Press…Let’s just hope that the researchers at university data centers take good care of your personal data, because any breach could have dire consequences. We will continue to explore this subject in the coming days to determine precisely which (if any) data from the decennial census will be distributed to universities. MyTwoCensus.com supports higher education and demographic research, but if neither the President nor the FBI can’t (in theory, but not in practice…) access census data, then neither should private citizens at universities.

Palo Alto, Calif. (AP) — Stanford University is preparing to launch a high-security data center, where researchers will analyze some of the most confidential Census information. The Stanford facility, which opens this month, will serve as a satellite center to the one at University of California, Berkeley. There are only a handful of other such data centers in the country — at top research schools, including Duke, Cornell and UCLA. C. Matthew Snipp, a Stanford demographer who will head the new center, says the data being handled there is much more detailed than what’s released publicly. The information feeds studies by economists, sociologists and public health researchers, among others. Snipp says the center will be under strict security measures to protect people’s privacy.

UPDATE: The San Francisco Chronicle has posted a more comprehensive version of this story HERE.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Now Is The Time To Print The 2010 Census Form In Creole

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Back on July 30, 2009, we published an article titled “Trouble in Florida for Haitians” detailing the problem of the Census Bureau’s choice not to use Creole as one of the 27 languages other than English that will appear on 2010 Census forms. In the wake of last month’s earthquake, and with an influx of refugees pouring into the United States (and Florida in particular), this decision now appears less intelligent than ever. MyTwoCensus.com is also surprised that the mainstream media has failed to pick up on this, and we urge media outlets to report this story. Are there a million Creole speakers in America? 1.5 million? More? This is an example of yet another community getting the shaft based on poor planning…but the Census Bureau still has time to act and create a creole language 2010 Census form as well as an ad campaign targeting creole-speakers. To the Census Bureau officials reading this: Please take our advice, and start this process ASAP!

MyTwoCensus.com Celebrates Our First Birthday!

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Our first birthday was on Friday, February 12…but we aren’t celebrating just yet. Rather, we’re trying to get things done in these busy, busy times.  Stay tuned for new features on this site and thanks for your support during the past year!

NYT: New Option for the States on Inmates in the Census/2006 Census Bureau Prison Report

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

From the New York Times (click here for full article):

For decades, predominantly rural and Republican districts have had extra clout in state and local legislative bodies because their large inmate populations were counted as local residents in apportioning representation. Now, the Census Bureau has agreed to give states a tool that could dilute the political power of those districts.

In May 2011, in time for Congressional and legislative reapportionment, the bureau will identify exactly where group quarters like prisons are and how many people occupy them. States would then have the option of counting them in the local population or not.

“This removes a technical problem,” said Peter Wagner, executive director of the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group that favors alternatives to prison sentences and urges that inmates be counted in their hometowns. “The census is going to say where the prisons are and how many people are in them, which will enable states the practical choice of counting them in the wrong place or not counting them at all.”

Mr. Wagner and other groups had originally asked the bureau to determine the home addresses of inmates and to count them at those addresses, but the 2010 census process was too far along for that change to be considered.

A number of states — including Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Wisconsin — are weighing legislation requiring that prisoners be counted at their last known address — for purposes of reapportionment, a change that would likely favor larger and mostly Democratic cities.

In New York, the change could prove pivotal because of the see-saw fight for control of the State Senate and the fact that the state faces the loss of at least one Congressional seat after the 2010 census.

Update: A reader provided us with a link to a document that shows the Census Bureau’s 2006 position on this issue in the from a comprehensive report. The report concludes the following:

“Counting prisoners at a ‘permanent home of record’ address, rather than at their place of
incarceration, would result in increased cost both to the decennial census program and to
the Federal, State, and local correctional facilities that would be required to participate in
data collection efforts.  Our study raises concerns that this change would result in
decreased accuracy for a possibly large proportion of millions of individuals confined on
Census day.  The completeness of the census count would be compromised for prisoners
that cannot provide a valid address, and we have no method of determining how many
individuals would fall into that category.  Further, a fundamental shift for the enumeration
of correctional facilities would likely have a negative impact on other Group Quarters
enumerations.”

From blogout.justout.com: Queering the Census, one sticker at a time…

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The 2010 United States Census, set to be disseminated in March or April, does not include questions of sexual or gender orientation. As the census helps to define the makeup of communities – and guides decisions about things like healthcare and public safety – some activists are calling for the LGBT community to become visible in this landmark study.

CREDO Action has partnered with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to offer one solution – a free sticker that LGBT people and their straight allies can stick on their census envelope. The organizations hope that this hot pink statement of presence will result in the inclusion of a tally of LGBT people in the next census.

Want to get counted? Get your free sticker and use it to seal the back of your census envelope before mailing the national survey back.

Senate Hearing: Countdown to Census Day

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

NOTE: THIS MEETING IS NOW POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER!

FOR RELEASE: Feb. 10, 2010

U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs

HEARING: “Countdown to Census Day: Progress Report on the Census Bureau’s Preparedness for the Enumeration”

WASHINGTON (Feb. 10, 2010) – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security, will hold a hearing TOMORROW, Thursday, Feb. 11, at 2:30 p.m. titled “Countdown to Census Day: Progress Report on the Census Bureau’s Preparedness for the Enumeration.”

With less than two months until Census Day 2010, Dr. Robert Groves and other officials will give the committee a progress report.

WHAT:

“Countdown to Census Day: Progress Report on the Census Bureau’s Preparedness for the Enumeration”

WHEN:

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.

WHERE:

342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Also scheduled to live broadcast at http://hsgac.senate.gov.

WITNESSES:

- The Honorable Robert M. Groves, Director, U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce

- The Honorable Todd J. Zinser, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce

- Robert N. Goldenkoff, Director, Strategic Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office

###

Metro West Daily News: Comic book pitches census to Brazilians

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Census comic staring Brazilian characters Ze Brazil and Tiao Mineiro
By Julia Spitz/Daily News staff
Posted Feb 10, 2010 @ 12:45 AM

Census officials hope a little humor will lead to an accurate headcount.

“2010 Census: The Adventures of Ze Brasil & Tiao Mineiro,” a comic book in Portuguese, is part of a Boston Regional Census Center initiative to let Brazilian immigrants know about the importance of the national census conducted every 10 years.

Local Portuguese-language newspapers and magazines will distribute comic books in Framingham and Marlborough next week, then again next month. Churches with predominantly Brazilian congregations will also distribute the 16-page publication.

“We are trying to reach everyone,” said Alexandra Barker, U.S. Census media specialist.

Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are familiar figures to readers of Bay State Brazilian newspapers. Boston-based cartoonist Daniel Nocera launched the series featuring the two illegal immigrants living in Massachusetts in 2005.

The comic strip, which is carried in The Metropolitan Brazilian News and A Noticia weekly papers in New England, as well as The Brazilian News in London and The Brasil News in Toronto, puts a humorous spin on struggles the pair face due to their inability to speak English and lack of documentation.

Using situations such as not knowing when to get off a T train or dealing with an unscrupulous landlord, Nocera said he tries to depict reality but also make readers laugh and think.

“I believe many Brazilians will identify themselves with my characters,” he said.

The census-themed booklet is an extension of the comic strips that “use a mild sense of humor and creativity as tools for getting the messages out.

“There are three short stories and three games, all involving the main census messages: It’s easy, it’s important and it’s confidential,” said Nocera, who was named best Brazilian cartoonist living outside Brazil in 2008 and 2009. In the booklet, Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are visited by a census worker, and talk about things that can be improved, such as schools and hospitals, based on an accurate census count.

“This comic book is an important tool for our outreach efforts to this hard-to-count population, which is the largest foreign-born community in the Boston region,” said Barker.

“We want to be culturally sensitive, not too bureaucratic,” she said.

The Final Word on the Super Bowl ad debacle…

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I need not write any more words about the Super Bowl ad. It now has 333,000+ views on YouTube, but at the same time it has been panned time and time again, and perhaps caused 10% of the population to resent the Census Bureau, even if it caused 2% of the population to fill out their 2010 Census forms.

As you will see below, the genius ad agency DraftFCB (who also produced failed and unmemorable Taco Bell and Dockers commercials during the Super Bowl) didn’t even permit the embed codes for the “viral videos” to be shared until this error was pointed out by internet users. One word for these folks: Idiots.

The following words are from The Federal Eye blog by Ed O’Keefe:

Updated 3:53 p.m. ET
Media critics seem to agree: The U.S. Census Bureau should keep to counting people and stay out of the advertising business.

The agency spent $2.5 million on a 30-second ad that aired during the third quarter of Sunday night’s Super Bowl, a price tag also earned them two spots during the pregame show and two on-air mentions by CBS Sports anchor James Brown.

The ad was directed by Christopher Guest and starred Ed Begley Jr. and alums of Guest’s cult classics, “Best in Show,” “For Your Consideration” and “A Mighty Wind.”

The ad is one of a five-part series that the agency hopes will spread virally out from a Facebook fan page and YouTube. (The agency prohibits bloggers and third party sites from copying and pasting embed code of the ads, blaming contractual restrictions — a decision that likely means the agency’s viral efforts will fail. UPDATE: The agency’s YouTube channel now provides the embed code. Was somebody listening?!)

Entertainment Weekly named the spot one of Sunday night’s five worst, stating, “How weird to hire all those funny character actors, then accidentally air an unfinished version of a commercial that left us all wondering what the frak we just watched!”

The ad also ranked poorly in USA Today’s annual Super Bowl ad viewer survey, ranking towards the bottom between a CareerBuilder.com ad and one for the new Wolfman movie. (But it did beat the controversial ad starring Tim Tebow.)

Advertisers are often willing to fork over millions of dollars for a Super Bowl spot in hopes of free day-after buzz. So perhaps most insulting of all, some ad critics completely ignored the Census spot. Slate’s Seth Stevenson didn’t mention it in his review of an “uninspiring slate” of commercial offerings, and The Post’s television critic Tom Shales also ignored the ad (Shales concluded that the David Letterman-Oprah Winfrey-Jay Leno “Late Show” promo was the night’s best — and The Eye agrees).

The conservative editorial board at the New Hampshire Union-Leader seized on the Census ad’s price tag, calling it a “Super blunder” and lamenting that the spot cost only 1.9 percent of the Census Bureau’s total advertising budget.

The editors echoed concerns raised last week by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Both lawmakers have sought justifications for the big purchase.

“There has been a great deal of buzz about the Census ads this week which is raising awareness at just the right time,” said Census Bureau spokesman Steven Jost.

“No single ad carries the whole burden of this massive outreach and education effort,” he said. “Our goal now is to raise awareness that the Census is coming in March. Then we will shift to more direct messaging that your Census form will be arriving by mail and inspiring folks to ‘mail it back.’”

Officials have also justified the costs by noting that any publicity about the 2010 Census — good or bad — should help save taxpayer money in the long run. A higher census response rate cuts the need for temporary workers to conduct expensive follow up interviews, the agency said.

“If 1% of folks watching #SB44 [Super Bowl 44] change mind and mail back #2010Census form, taxpayers save $25 million in follow up costs,” the bureau Tweeted on Sunday night.

The Washington Post Had Better Be Joking With This One…Except They’re Not…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Well, Dr. Groves and Mr. Jost must be pretty jealous that their deputy Daniel Weinberg was profiled by The Washington Post. Inside sources informed us that Mr. Weinberg hardly has the stellar job performance record that this article insinuates…(we don’t forget so easily about a certain $800 million Harris Corp. handheld computer debacle…)

Managing the 2010 Census and planning for 2020

 

Daniel Weinberg

Daniel Weinberg (Sam Kittner/Kittner.com)

Meet the Federal Player of the Week, Daniel Weinberg.

Position: Assistant Director for American Community Survey and Decennial Census, U.S. Census Bureau
Age: 60
Residence: Fairfax County, Va.
Education: Ph.D. in economics, Yale University; B.S. in mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Awards:Department of Commerce Bronze and Silver Medals; two Vice President¿s Reinventing Government (Hammer) Awards; Fellow of the American Statistical Association Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics; 2002 Service to America Citizen Services Medal
Hobbies: Tennis, photography, bridge

The 2010 decennial census is just getting underway, but Daniel Weinberg is already thinking about 2020 and how the Internet might be used to collect the nation’s population data.

Weinberg, the assistant director for the Decennial Census and American Community Survey, spends his time in two primary areas: helping make sure everything is in order for the 2010 census and coming up with ways to improve the massive undertaking 10 years from now.

The census is a count of everyone living in the United States, collecting basic information on age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, household relationships and whether a home is owned or rented. By law, both citizens and noncitizens must be counted every 10 years. Census data are used to reapportion congressional seats to states and directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal funding is distributed to state, local and tribal governments.

“Each census is a 10-year cycle of planning and testing and research,” Weinberg said. “We set a very high bar to automate as much as the process as possible for 2010, and we didn’t succeed as much as we would have liked. We need to carry that over to 2020.”

Weinberg is in charge of the management, geography and statistical divisions of the Census Bureau, helping chart long and short term strategy, troubleshoot, and keeping the huge,complex process moving. He keeps tab of what is going on, seeks to resolve problems as they arise and provides support where needed.

Pshhhhht…If resolving problems as they arise means paying an incompetent company an ADDITIONAL $200 million to create terrible products and software that aren’t even being used for the 2010 Census, then Dr. Weinberg is the best fixer on earth…

Wired Magazine and Techies: Census Bureau’s Super Bowl Ad Is A Dud

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Click here for some scientific evidence about the Census Bureau’s failure to choose a worthwhile ad for the Super Bowl…here’s the quote in question:

“After the game, I asked to see more data. They found one interesting case where the US government’s 2010 census advertisement had low effect on the viewers and the Google commercial that followed it sparked the audience’s interest.”

The Scope Of An Advertising/Marketing Flop…

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The Nielsen Ratings are crap. Seriously. These ratings are the results of an antiquated system that relies on statistics from 5,000 Americans to represent more than 300,000,000 Americans. However, YouTube has provided many, many, statistics for the common man (not just the stat-heads over at Census Bureau’s HQ in Suitland, Maryland). So, let us delve into the US Census Bureau’s YouTube channel to see just how few people have watched the ads that have been created for the 2010 Census:

Thus far, the Census Bureau has posted 63 YouTube videos for the 2010 Census. The first video (the boringly iconic “Portrait of America” clip) was posted 10 months ago and the most recent addition (a hip-hop music video geared toward young urbanites)  was posted two days ago. The Portrait of America video has just over 6,500 hits…which would sound pretty pathetic for a 10 month campaign if only it wasn’t revealed that the other six videos posted 10 months ago each received between 347 and 1,305 hits. In the series of videos posted 6 months ago, the most widely-watched video, about the address-canvassing operations, has been viewed a measly 1,083 times. (This means that only a tiny fraction of the workers involved in this process even watched the video…)

Sadly, Census Director Robert M. Groves has not become the YouTube phenom he wished to be, as his four-part panel discussion and swearing in ceremony clips received only 264, 124, 92, 120, and 285 views respectively (over the course of 6 months!!!). If Dr. Groves were trying to make it on network TV, he would have been canned lightyears before Conan…

And most pathetic are the efforts of the Census Bureau to reach out to minority communities…Video testimonials by members of minority communities that were posted 5 months ago have received between 33 and 258 views…and the majority of these videos have been viewed less than 100 times each! Even if the Census Bureau’s own employees who are representing the minority groups (partnership specialists) had viewed their own videos, there should be more views than what is represented on YouTube!

Final Analysis from an untrained marketing expert: As of February 8, 2010, this ad campaign is a colossal failure!

Solutions to the Census Bureau’s Statistic Failures…

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Last week we wrote about the Freakonomics article that questioned the Census Bureau’s methodologies for reporting statistics. Well, here are a couple of solutions to the problems as articulated by the Wall Street Journal. (In this instance, our neighbors to the North appear to have their act together better than we do…)

Let us know your thoughts on the Census Bureau’s Super Bowl ads…

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Please comment here and enjoy the game!

Michael Steele and the GOP Attempt To Hijack The Census: Epic FAIL!

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com feels that Michael Steele and the National GOP’s use of a mailer (click here to see a PDF version of what was sent to millions of households) that tries to emulate a 2010 Census form is immoral, unethical, and potentially illegal. And it will come back to bite the GOP in their own butts.

Phil Sparks of the left-leaning Census Project wrote:

The mailer has been sent to thousands of households, from Georgia to Minnesota, and tells recipients that “strengthening our party for the (next)… elections will take a massive grassroots effort. As a key facet of our overall campaign strategy, the Republican Party is conducting a Census of Congressional Districts all across America.” The mailer misleads people by saying on the front of the envelope, in bold letters, that the mailer is a Congressional District Census. Above the recipient’s address the mailer says “Census Document Registered To.” There is even a “Census Tracking Code.” notice attached to the mailer…One Republican operative was quoted in the political newspaper Politico as declaring: “of course duping people is the point… that’s one of the reasons it works so well… they will likely mail millions this year.”

The unintended consequence of Steele’s mailer may be that Republican party members think that they have already completed the 2010 Census if they have filled out the aforementioned form and thus not complete the actual document that will be mailed to millions of households in March. Steele has surely risked not only his own integrity, but also an accurate count of Republicans. Steele fails to see that if Republicans don’t complete the 2010 Census this spring, so-called Red States and red-leaning areas won’t receive their proportion of federal funds (or Congressional seats) when the 2010 Census results are announced.

Global Politics At Work: UC Irvine Students Want To Be Counted As Taiwanese

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

A couple of UC Irvine students aren’t too pleased that there’s no place for them to identify their Taiwanese heritage on the 2010 Census form, so they wrote a song about it. This is a particularly sensitive issue given the long-standing geopolitical feud between mainland China and Taiwan…The girls in the video ultimately decide to choose “Asian” and “Other” and write in “Taiwanese” on their 2010 Census forms so they will be properly counted.