Archive for March, 2010
We’ve received our fair share of tips about the effectiveness of operations at Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs), so we’re hoping that readers can comment on these centers and experiences you have had with them. Locales ranging from churches to senior centers to 7-11s are doubling as QACs. Unfortunately, we’ve been told that the “Take 10 Map” (that is annoyingly slow on all three computers I work with) doesn’t have every QAC listed. I noticed that Torrington, Connecticut (ZIP Code 06790), where I spent summers during my youth, only has one QAC. On the other hand, the South Shore of Nassau County (Zip Code 11570) in New York, where I grew up, has many QACs. Why the disparity?
One tipster told us, “Some organizations who originally agreed to this commitment backed out because the last paragraph of the attached agreement. My interpretation is that the government still wants to retain their right to sue if someone screws Uncle Sam.”
The paragraph in question from the Space Donation Agreement reads as follows:
Because the Federal Government is self-insured, it is the U.S. Census Bureau’s policy not to purchase or pay for commercial liability insurance. In addition, the Anti-Deficiency Act, Title 31 U.S.C. §1341,prohibits any Federal agency from undertaking contingent and undetermined liability without funds being appropriated by Congress for such purpose. For this reason, the Government cannot agree to a “hold-harmless” clause nor can it waive the right to sue.
*MyTwoCensus.com calls upon our readers to visit QACs in your area to test the knowledge of those who work there and to make sure that the QACs actually exist.
Question: Is it ethical for cities, universities, or other entities to offer cash prizes in exchange for participating in the 2010 Census?
The following comes from DailyNorthwestern.com:
City, Northwestern offer incentives for completing 2010 census forms
By Katie Park
Northwestern and Evanston have teamed up to provide cash incentives for students to fill out the 2010 census, which will be available for students on campus next week.
While students living off campus should have already received their census forms in the mail, census workers will distribute the forms to students in dormitories next Monday through Thursday, said Lucile Krasnow, NU special assistant for community relations.
“Students might be asking, ‘Am I really a resident of Evanston?’” Krasnow said. “It’s where you live the majority of the year. They should indeed fill out the census in Evanston.”
With the last census in 2000, the University saw about a 98-percent participation rate, Krasnow said. Students filled out the census form as part of their on-campus housing process, a system that no longer exists.
Instead, the University will award cash prizes to residence halls, fraternities and sororities with the highest participation rates, Krasnow said. Dorms with up to 85 people will be eligible for a $250 cash prize, dorms with 86 to 150 people will be eligible for a $500 prize and dorms with more than 150 residents will be eligible for a $750 prize, she said.
Greek houses will meet with census workers throughout the month of April to distribute the forms. The fraternity and sorority with the highest participation rates will each be eligible for a $250 prize.
“The idea is to encourage everybody to take part in the census,” Krasnow said. “It’s a very quick, easy form, and it’ll take less than 10 minutes to fill out.”
McCormick sophomore June Choi lives on campus and said the participation competition was not an incentive for her.
“I was going to fill it out anyway,” Choi said. “I would think people would just write it up. It’s really short.”
In addition to developing the competition for student residents, Krasnow has worked with Downtown Evanston, a group of local businesspeople and property owners, to develop an event for both students and Evanston residents. During Community Savings Weekend, April 9-11, more than 20 Evanston businesses will offer discounts to thank residents for their participation in the census.
“The idea is that—it’s on the honor system—we hope you did fill out your form,” said Downtown Evanston Executive Director Carolyn Dellutri. “(The census has) a big impact on the community overall, and we’re doing it as a partnership with the city and University.”
SESP senior Daniel Diorio said he was interested in the discount program.
“I’m a fan of incentives for anything,” he said. “I never thought of businesses having interests invested in the census.”
Diorio lives off campus and said he has already sent in his form.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “It helps the government allocate resources more effectively, and it’s only five minutes of my time.”
Census workers will follow up with students living off campus who do not fill out their forms, Krasnow said.
Each NU student counted in the census will bring about $980 per year to the city of Evanston for the next 10 years, Krasnow said. This money can finance federal and state initiatives such as transportation programs, student loans and grants.
“We really see this as part of our civic responsibilities,” Krasnow said.
H/t to David Cohen of Media Bestro for the following:
Pepsi Yo Sumo isn’t a new viral-video craze combining a soft drink and a large, scantily clad Japanese man. Rather, it’s an effort byPepsi and Latin Internet company Terra to encourage Hispanics in the United States to participate in Census 2010.
The viral campaign is aimed at second- and third-generation U.S. Hispanics, encouraging them to share stories and photos on the Web site, which will then be fed to Terra, which claims 3.5 million users in the country. A Pepsi Yo Sumo widget is being featured on Terra’s site.
Terra will also host user polls on the census, which Pepsi will sponsor via banner ads, and users can add the widget, built by New York-based Second Thought, to their social-networking pages.
Terra USA vice president of sales Jim McCabe said:
When it comes to 2010 Census participation, the Pepsi Yo Sumo campaign has the message and Terra has the audience. By bringing the two together, second- and third-generation U.S. Hispanics will show the world how many they are and how they’re changing the landscape of this country.
To find and embed a state-wide rate:
1) On the main map page (http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/),
click on “View Participation Rate”
2) Enter a zip code or a county or city followed by a state, e.g., “22206”
or “New York City, NY,” and click FIND. 3) The map will center; click on
the chosen state.
4) A bubble will appear showing the current 2010 rate and the 2000 rate. A
“Track Participation Rate” link will be in the bubble. Click on the link
and follow the instructions for embedding tracker in your website.
5) Note: To find and embed rates for a lower level of geography, click on
the “Zoom In” link.
According to the Census Bureau, as of 4pm EST yesterday, the mail participation rate was 46%. We await the results as to what it will be at 4pm today…
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution Provides The Best 2010 Census Coverage of Any Mainstream PublicationTuesday, March 30th, 2010
Yesterday I wrote that in general, the mainstream media has failed to report about 2010 Census issues. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is an exception to this rule. The newspaper has consistently created insightful stories related to the decennial, and I commend them for their reporting. Here is one example:
Declare ‘Confederate Southern American’ on Census forms, group says
The Southern Legal Resource Center is calling on self-proclaimed “Confederates” to declare their heritage when they are counted in the 2010 Census.
The organization is urging Southerners to declare their “heritage and culture” by classifying themselves as “Confederate Southern Americans” on the line on the form, question No. 9, that asks for race. Check “other” and write “Confed Southern Am” on the line beside it, the group says on its Facebook page and on two YouTube videos.
“A significant number of Southerners identifying themselves as Confederate Southern Americans on the Census form could finally spell the beginning of the end for the discrimination that has been running rampant, especially for the last 20 years or so, against all things Confederate, and for that matter against Southern heritage and identity in general,” SLRC executive director Roger McCredie said in a written statement.
FYI: Stephen Robert Morse is a trained scholar of American history and MyTwoCensus.com condemns the above movement as a racist attempt to revise history and re-write the past. However, we still support in the right to freedom of expression and speech by all individuals.
Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, to discuss implications of 2010 Census, April 5
Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, will present a public talk titled, “A Society Measuring Itself: 2010 Census” at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 5 in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall, on the Princeton University campus. A public reception will follow the talk in Shultz dining room.
The following piece does not reflect the views of MyTwoCensus.com and was written by a senior Census Bureau official who has requested anonymity (but whose identity has been verified by MyTwoCensus.com):
With the Census starting to hire for the largest census operation, Non-Response Followup next month, Mr. Stephen Buckner neither denies nor confirms the length of census jobs but says they will last up to several weeks. However, he is defending an agency that has a long history of mismanagement such as the Harris handheld computer debacle, address canvassing cost overruns and group quarters workload overestimation to name a few. His response does hint at many of the assumptions the modeling and analysis branch at headquarters makes:
Assumption: The average employee will work part time hours (for example 25 hours a week for Group Quarters Advance Visit).
The decennial census is being conducted in the midst of the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression. Many people are desperate for any sort of work even if it is short term. These people will work more than 25 hours a week because they have been out of work for months. They jump on the opportunity with enthusiasm because and this is any sort of a glimmer of hope they’ve seen in months. You work more than 25 hours a week, chances are you’ll finish quicker.
Assumption: The average Census employee has eighth grade reading, math and map reading skills.
Due to the high unemployment rate the Census Bureau has attracted very highly educated overqualified employees. Most employees have college degrees and some have advanced degrees. There is no way to measure how quickly the highly educated workforce will work. But they will complete training and understand it much better than those of an eighth grader making for quicker completion of work.
Assumption: The average Census employee will complete about one non-response interview an hour.
The Census Bureau has the same cookie cutter production quotas for the local census offices however it does not account for:
* hard to enumerate areas in urban cities with a large immigrant and illegal population
* high density housing where travel time between assignments is negligible
* rural areas where enumerators and listers can get lost, and their vehicles stuck
Assumption: About 29% of employees won’t qualify for work because of an unfavorable background check. And up to 50% of applicants will either quit or be released from employment.
This leaves about 71% of employees who are available to be hired. If you factor in job refusal, not showing up for training, not completing training and resignations; the bureau thinks they need to recruit five applicants for every one position and front load each operation with 1.5 times the required staff. When you take millions of highly educated, unemployed Americans who were previously were working they are desperate for work then you have favorable background checks, and people who won’t refuse work, will show up and complete training. And although it is a tough job it pays much better than food service and retail jobs so they probably may not quit as easily as the Census model has them.
Assumption: The performance evaluation system for Census Bureau managers is purely based on meeting production goals or exceeding them.
Mr. Buckner says that “we want nothing more than to hire less than what is required to do the job.” This is untrue especially when you consider the following. If manager A finishes ahead of manager B then manager A is the better manager. That is why managers overhire, overstaff because the quicker they finish the better their performance is perceived. So managers maximize their chances for success by hiring the maximum number of people need for the operation.
Assumption: The more quickly you finish the more work you are given.
The Census Bureau rewards those who finish quicker with more work. If another area is working slowly they will assign the work to someone else or take the food out of people’s mouths. Managers assume those who finish quicker are better workers and the quicker they finish the better management looks.
Assumption: Like the military, the census bureau relies on the chain of command and military group think.
The Census Bureau works just like the military chain of command. If you question authority then it will result in a dead end for career employees and termination for temporary employees. If you don’t like the group you are deemed not a team player or insubordinate. The managers knew that training all these people during address canvassing was unnecessary but they did so anyways because no matter how stupid the idea sounds the agency teaches you not to question authority and do as you are told. So during address canvassing many managers trained more people than needed and replaced people who turned over although work was ahead of schedule.
Any business school model (and it doesn’t need to be a Harvard, Wharton one) can tell this is a managerial economic problem. A professor once told me you can solve any managerial economics problem by asking these three questions. One. Who made the mistake? Two. Did they have enough information? Three. Are their incentives in lines with the goals of the company? The answers are respectively: Census Bureau managers, no and no. The Bureau prides itself on collecting high quality data about the nation’s people and economy. However their managers are evaluated not on producing quality work at the lowest cost but on how quickly they can produce it. There is no incentive for coming in at the lowest cost. That is why the Bureau is getting so much bad publicity lately for over hiring, overspending and false pretenses of good short term employment for the millions of Americans desperate to find any sort of work out there.
In an economy such as this the Census Bureau should do the American people a favor: hire the right amount of people, give them some solid work that pays well and keep them working longer, providing them some hope and inspiration that their federal government cares about them and treat them with the respect they deserve in this time of hardship. Non Response Followup is the Census Bureau’s final chance to make good on their promise to count every person accurately, let 600,000 employees make a paycheck who desperately need money.
It hurts no one if the Bureau hires less people than what they require because the enumerators are smarter in this census so they will be more productive. If the Bureau under recruits then they save money on advertising, the fewer employees work longer to put food on the table. If they over recruit and over hire then they waste money on recruiting and training, there is a false pretense of work and employees lose hope in an agency already fraught with problems. Under recruiting, hiring less people to work longer and making the most effective use of their employees might actually benefit the census. With all the President is dealing with such as health care reform and two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq I think the last thing he is worried about is getting the count of Americans delivered to him on December 31st, 2010.
Americans have once again been failed by the mainstream media. As I have expressed, MyTwoCensus.com is essentially a one-man operation. Yet, I still manage to file more than my fair share of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain significant amounts of information from the Census Bureau (and I am subsequently dragged around in circles as it takes months to actually obtain the data I request…Thanks for the transparency that you promised when you were elected, Mr. President!).
Sadly, I am essentially the only journalist who is pursuing such information from the Census Bureau, as evidenced by my tracking of FOIA requests. Local, regional, state, and national news organizations should have reporters covering the 2010 Census beat, at least during this busy time. 99% of the stories written about the 2010 Census (my humble non-scientific estimate) are fluffy pieces that remind individuals to be part of the enumeration process. Most of these articles read like press releases from the Census Bureau — because in many cases they are simply a collection of tidbits from Census Bureau press releases that are hastily thrown together. That neither traditional media organizations, new media organization, nor government watchdog non-profits and think tanks have taken investigating 2010 Census operations seriously is a major travesty, and the effects of this failure will soon be evident.
Without sounding like Clark Hoyt of the New York Times or the Ombudsman of the Washington Post, I understand that in the past week I may not have had 100% accuracy in my stories. I attribute this to many factors:
1. There is an excessive amount of information flowing in to me right now, and it is difficult to analyze it all in real time.
2. The government has been extremely unhelpful in answering my inquiries within a short amount of time.
3. The government has been lying, exaggerating, and spinning the 2010 Census to create a false image about its current rate of success, while also failing to provide solid data from the 2000 Census to use as reference points.
4. In the midst of the aforementioned problems, I have at times found it more effective to throw out information onto the Internet and let my readers correct me, since other individuals may have more knowledge than me about specific issues. I then go back and correct what is wrong. This is a method that has been used by Silicon Valley blog TechCrunch for many years now with great success. In the future, I will specifically ask for readers to verify or disprove information if I am not 100% sure of its factual accuracy.
That said, the readers of this blog have proven themselves to be an extraordinarily intelligent and insightful group of people. And without you directing me where to go, I would not have been able to make as much progress with this blog during the past 13 months as I have. I hope that this active citizen and government employee participation continues so we can achieve the best results possible for America.
Note: If any readers are interested in volunteering for this site to help me obtain and sort through more information during these busy times, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
From the New York Times:
When Robert Groves, the director of the Census Bureau, appeared on C-Span’s “Washington Journal” program Friday morning, he found himself having to defend the racial designations on the census form.
A female caller posed this question: “I am black. I did not appreciate the black, the African-American, and Negro. … I do not like that…. It really hurt my feelings … that to me is racist.”
Mr. Groves, who has dealt with the ‘Negro’ designation before, apologized once again, explaining that before the 2000 Census began, there were many older African-Americans who called themselves “Negro.”
He also said he doubted that the category would still be around for the next census:
The intent of every word on the race and ethnicity questions is to be as inclusive as possible so that all of us could see a word here that rings a bell for us. […] It was not to be offensive, and again I apologize on that. My speculation is that, in 2020, that word will disappear, and there are going to be other words that are going to change.
Thanks to CNET News for this wonderful slideshow!
H/t to Ed O’Keefe at the Washington Post for the following:
With just six days left until 2010 Census forms are due back, the Senate approved a measure Friday that bans deceptive mailings that use the word “Census” without a disclaimer.
Democrats, senior citizens and civil rights groups have denounced mailings by the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee that prominently featured the word “Census” and “Official Document” on the document and envelope. Though the U.S. Postal Service ruled the mailings legal, opponents argued they could confuse Americans who were waiting for the government’s census forms to arrive in the mail.
The Senate unanimously approved the measure along with 12 other unrelated bills. It requires mailings with an envelope marked “Census” to clearly state the sender’s return address and a disclaimer that the mailing is not from the federal government. Mailers could still use the word “census” on an envelope or document so long as it carries the disclaimer. The House unanimously passed the bill March 10.
1. I may have misheard Dr. Groves at the Wednesday Press conference when I wrote that he said 2010 response rates were as good as they were in 2000.
2. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that 2010 response rates are significantly WORSE than they were in 2000. My suspicions were also raised today when I learned that the response rate increased by 14% in one day (technically just over 24 hours as the rate was 20% as o Wednesday’s update, 29% as of Thursday’s update and 34% as of Friday’s update).
I apologize for any inaccuracies, but I stand behind the data and statistics that I am reporting, and furthermore, other than the one statement above, I stand by the rest of my claims. I was likely confused when I heard Dr. Groves say “We’re off to a pretty good start.”
Pretty big turnaround in the numbers, eh? Still, they don’t approach the levels of participation at this point in the process ten years ago. Note: We have not been able to track any other instance where the response rate has increased so drastically in a 24 hour time period. This is cause for concern.
The following report comes from JCOnline.com in Lafayette, Indiana:
By Curt Slyder
Mida Grover is the Hispanic/Latino liaison for Lafayette School Corp. It’s her job to reach out to families in the school district who speak Spanishbut might not speak English.
Since the U.S. Census Bureau recently began mailing 2010 census forms to people throughout the country, families she works with have been getting theirs — in English only.
That led several families to contact her, asking her what they could do ahead of the April 1 population count of all people in the United States.
“I’ve also alerted people in other buildings in the district to be prepared for people coming in there,” she said.
That concerns Lafayette City Clerk Cindy Murray, co-chairwoman of Tippecanoe County Complete Count Committee. “People don’t know where to go, what to do,” she said.
Though census forms are available in six languages — English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian — finding out where to get a form in a language other than English has been a problem.
That is especially troubling, local officials have said, as they try to get as many people counted here as possible. Spanish-speaking households have been a particular target for the Complete Count Committee, as the community’s Hispanic estimated population has increased since the last census in 2000.
In Tippecanoe County, the Hispanic population grew from 7,834 in 2000 to 12,020 in 2008, according to U.S. Census estimates. That was a 53 percent increase. The Hispanic population is 7.3 percent of Tippecanoe County’s total, according to those estimates. That’s up from 5.3 percent in 2000.
Similar stories can be told about surrounding counties. In Clinton County, the estimated Hispanic population grew 89 percent between 2000 and 2008. In White County, it was up 39 percent. In Montgomery County, it was up 110 percent.
The federal census office mailed out forms based on data from the 2000 census, according to Jim Powell, office manager at the local U.S. Census Office in Market Square Shopping Center. His office oversees Tippecanoe and 16 other nearby counties.
(To continue reading click here.)
MyTwoCensus Investigation: How many politicians got jobs for their kids or other relatives with the Census Bureau?Friday, March 26th, 2010
I know that I, along with millions of other people who applied for 2010 Census jobs (Full disclosure: I did this to investigate the hiring process for this blog) never received so much as a call to come in for an interview. Yet, I have now received three tips via e-mail that relatives of politicians (two Democrats and one Republican) have been hired/are employed by the Census Bureau. This is an official call to action for the Inspector General’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office to launch investigations into whether nepotism or other illegal forms of hiring took place during any phase of 2010 Census operations or at the Census Bureau in general:
MyTwoCensus have been tipped off about the following:
1. Austin Esposito, son of Democratic Senator from Missouri Claire McCaskill. Check out some screenshots from his FACEBOOK page. (Come on dude, you should know to up your privacy settings by now. You’re the son of a Senator! I’m surprised little old non-partisan me is the first person to post these rather than GOP operatives or right-wing bloggers!)
Editor’s Note: I am most concerned about the McCaskill/Esposito connection because there have been so many complaints about a lack of 2010 Census jobs in Missouri.