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, 2010

MyTwoCensus has some competition in the blogosphere…

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves has been blogging more frequently as of late. However, from the syntax of the blog, we suspect that this is really being written by a PR team…Check out the “Director’s Blog” HERE.

Event in New York tonight…

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The Baruch College School of Public Affairs

Panelists
Seema Agnani, Executive Director, Chhaya CDC
Stacey Cumberbatch, City Census Coordinator
Tony Farthing, Regional Director, US Census Bureau
Joseph Salvo, Director Population Division, NY Dept. of City Planning

Moderator
Sam Roberts, Reporter, The New York Times

Co-sponsor
Mexican-American Students Alliance

Date & Time
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Reception 5:30
Program 6:00 to 7:30

Location
Baruch College
Newman Conference Center
Library Building, 151 East 25th Street
7th floor

Please RSVP online by clicking here

MyTwoCensus Investigation: 2010 Census Response Rates Lag Behind Response Rates From 2000

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Correction/Update:

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. This means that some 25 million forms were processed in the past 24 hours, which is historically unheard of!

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.”

Though we don’t have the full transcript yet (we will publish it here as soon as we get it), Census Director Robert M. Groves made claims at yesterday’s press conference that mail response rates for the 2010 Census were ahead of/on par with what they were in 2000. These claims are false for the following reasons…

According to Appendix F of this document from the 2000 Census, http://www.census.gov/pred/www/rpts/A.7.a.pdf, the mail return rate was at 42% ten days after the major questionnaire mailing period began on 3/13/2000. But in 2010, ten days after the process started on 3/15, the  participation rate is at only 20%. Here are screenshots from the 2000 report and from 2010Census.gov to check out the data:

Now, look at the mailback rate for 2010 on 3/25 (This year the mailing started on 3/15. In 2000 it started on 3/13.):

*ALSO, PLEASE  KEEP IN MIND THAT THE 2010 CENSUS FORM IS WAY SHORTER/EASIER TO COMPLETE THAN THE ONE FROM 2000!

Why are the mentally ill who live in group quarters participating in the standard 2010 Census enumeration rather than being enumerated during the Group Quarters Enumeration operation?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The master address file at the Census Bureau should have identified the following locale as “Group Quarters.” Is this identification error happening at other facilities for the mentally ill around the country as well? Will this lead to many individuals being double-counted?  Check out this brief from Channel3000.com:

MADISON, Wis. — In many mailboxes around the country, the 2010 U.S. Census forms have arrived. The forms are being mailed to every household in the nation.Although the census is vitally important for many reasons, some folks are afraid to be counted. Burgess Brown helps run Safe Haven, a facility that gives people in Madison with mental illnesses a temporary place to stay.He said the relationships that his staff have developed with the guests is key to getting patients feeling comfortable about being counted.”A lot of people have diagnoses that make them skeptical of answering certain questions,” said Brown. “A lot of them will need to be coached through and reassured that what they are filling out is not someone prying into their personal past or history.”

Why is the South lagging behind? — and other questions about response rates and the 2010 Census mapping tool.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I’m hoping Nate Silver or another quantitative/statistical genius (other than Census Director Robert M. Groves) can provide me with  details about the current participation rates for the 2010 Census (updated Monday-Friday by the Census Bureau). Some key questions I hope to ask Dr. Groves at his press conference later today:

1. How do these rates compare with mail response rates for this time of year during the 2000 Census?

2. From my casual observations, it appears that the South is lagging behind in 2010 Census response rates. Does that this mean there will be a shift of more workers to this region? (And actually, does this mean that more taxpayer money will be infused into regions that DON’T participate in the 2010 Census initially, so more workers will physically knock on every door in these places, and thus raise the amount of cash generated for workers in such areas?)

3. IT Question Why the heck does my computer, which rarely ever experiences problems, freeze when I try to zoom in to check out Census Data? Come on Census Bureau, get your act together with your technology!

4. Should states or counties with low mail response rates be punished in some way (such as by withholding funds in the future), as it will be more costly to run more extensive non response follow up operations in these areas?

5. Why are areas of the map of the US (at the local level) blank in some instances?

6. Why can’t view the response rate for a particular town or city in all situations — and sometimes only one part of a city or town?

7. Why is it impossible for the common man (me!) with some statistical knowledge to understand what the data in the “Download Today’s Data” means — particularly because we don’t know what each of the “regions” stands for?

8. Why has the Census Bureau created such an incomprehensible explaination on their web site to explain the difference between mail response rate and mail participation rate?

The US Census Bureau Falls Short In Paying Contractors, Says GA1 Marketing Firm

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

WASHINGTON, March 23 /PRNewswire/ — Global Advertising 1st (GA1), an award-winning integrated marketing solutions firm, was chosen to meet the US Census Bureau’s increasing needs to recruit applicants for temporary positions necessary to conduct the decennial Census in 2010.

In August of 2009, the US Census Bureau contracted GA1 to handle recruitment advertising in the Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, Kansas City, and Charlotte regions. The campaigns launched during the peak recruiting phase of the 2010 Census, which fell between late 2009 and continues through April 2010.

Although, the efforts of the recruitment campaign have been an overall success, with some regions having a surplus of applicants, the small business agency still has not been paid. The US Census owes GA1 several millions to date and the company has received less than $2,000.00.

“In this economy, it is unfathomable to ask any business, especially one of our size to execute such a major campaign and work six months for free,” says Derrick Hollie, president and CEO of GA1. “GA1 has been caught up in the Census’ red tape and bureaucracy which has resulted in major delays in payment to our firm.”

With an initiative as large as the US Census and the holdup of payment for services rendered, it is impossible for any businesses to survive.  GA1 has continued to extend themselves to this government client despite effects to their credit line and that cannot go on forever.

GA1 was excited to be a part of such an important initiative mandated by the US government, and the agency is prepared to make the 2010 Census a huge success. However, GA1 never thought receiving compensation for work completed would be such an issue.

About GA1:

Global Advertising 1st (GA1) is an award-winning minority-owned, full-service marketing solutions firm that specializes in providing innovative approaches to disseminating our clients’ messages. GA1 has created and implemented campaigns for clients such as the US Department of Education, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Gillette, Dodge, the US Department of State and American Lung Association of DC, and the 2010 US Census. GA1 holds a GSA AIMS Schedule 541 and does the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as a qualified minority-owned business for government media placement certify 8(a). GA1 has also received multiple state and local authorities. For a complete list of our certifications and awards please visit: www.globalad1.com.

Update: Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner sent me the following response to this post:

We are required by law to adhere to federal accounting and financial guidelines, policies and standards to ensure the appropriate use of public funds.  The U.S. Census Bureau promptly pays invoices properly submitted by contractors as long as the information presented in the invoice is correct and is accompanied by the legally required supporting documentation.

In the case of Global Advertising, as of March 25, 2010, the Census Bureau has paid Global Advertising for every invoice properly submitted and accepted. Because they are a small business, we have gone the extra mile and Census Bureau staff personally assisted the company’s employees to prepare their invoices and speed the invoicing process so they can be paid for work performed in an efficient manner.  We deeply regret that the President of Global Advertising did not disclose the extraordinary effort our staff have provided to his company to help them with contract compliance. The Census Bureau values the work of our contractors and will do all that we can to make the invoicing process as smooth as possible, at the same time we are careful stewards of the taxpayers funds.

Military gears up for 2010 Census

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The counting of military personnel hasn’t been discussed very much on this blog or by the mainstream media — other than some cities with large military bases that wish the soldiers who reside on said bases were counted there, rather than their hometowns…

by Jordan Reimer
American Forces Press Service

3/22/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) – Defense Department officials are working with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure that all military personnel are accounted for in the 2010 Census, a defense official said March 19.

All servicemembers and their families, whether stationed domestically or overseas, must be counted and attributed to their proper place of residence, said Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center.

“The important thing is making sure that the states and the federal government are allocating funds to those communities where our bases are located, so they can properly support our military members,” she said.

The constitution mandates that the government take a census of United States residents every 10 years. All residents, regardless of citizenship or legal status, are legally required to take part in the census.

Census information primarily is used to reapportion the number of seats allotted to each state in the House of Representatives. The government also draws on the data to distribute about $400 billion in aid for programs such as Medicaid. State officials use the records to determine how to allocate funds to cities and neighborhoods for critical projects such as infrastructure, hospitals and schools.

Officials from DOD and the Census Bureau established a joint working group in 2004 to coordinate the process of counting military members and their families. All four military services and the Coast Guard are included. The Defense Manpower Data Center – whose staff collects, archives, and maintains manpower and personnel data — represents the Defense Department on the committee.

“This group works together to figure out what that process is going to be, making sure we have all the designated points of contact, so that the census will run smoothly during the course of the census process,” Ms. Dixon said.

Defense officials said the department is on track to submit the count forms to the bureau ahead of the July deadline.

All servicemembers who receive a census form are required to fill it out and mail it back to the Census Bureau. The data of military members stationed overseas — who will not receive any forms — will be processed administratively. Servicemembers who live in group quarters will be required to fill out a “military census report” that will be distributed and collected by their installation’s service representative and submitted on their behalf to the bureau.

Servicemembers who are not U.S. citizens will be counted in the census. Servicemembers stationed overseas still are considered U.S. residents because they normally reside in the United States but are assigned abroad, Ms. Dixon said.

Because some servicemembers maintain more than one place of residence, the concern exists that some people will be counted twice, or not at all, Ms. Dixon acknowledged. But she added that she’s is confident that Defense Department officials, who fine-tune the process after each census, will accomplish the mission accurately and efficiently.

“There haven’t been any substantial differences in what we’re doing,” she said. “(And) I think we’ve been pretty successful in the past.”

Press Release: Communities Able to Track Percentage of Households Mailing Back Form

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

WASHINGTON, March 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following was released today by the U.S. Census Bureau:

What: With most 2010 Census questionnaires having arrived last week by mail for 120 million households, the U.S. Census Bureau will launch new interactive Google Maps showing initial mail participation rates. The collaborative partnership with Google allows communities the ability to track how their area is responding to the once-a-decade count. The Census Bureau will provide daily updates of the percentage of returned census forms using Google Maps and Google Earth.

The Census Bureau encourages everyone to “Take 10″ ? that is to take 10 minutes to answer the 10 questions on the census form. The mail participation rate for the nation in 2000 was 72 percent.  For every 1 percent increase in the national participation rate by mail, the Census Bureau can save taxpayers $85 million by not having to send census takers door to door to households that failed to return the census form. If every household mailed back its 2010 Census form, the cost of taking the census would be reduced by $1.5 billion.

The “Take 10″ map, which includes the 2000 Census mail participation rates as a benchmark for which communities are encouraged to exceed, will also feature an  easy-to-embed local rate tracker (widget) that local community officials, businesses and media can add to their Web sites to encourage residents to participate in the census.

Download the “Take 10″ Rate Tracker to embed on your Web site and the toolkit with templates and suggestions for implementing the “Take 10″ challenge locally. Check out your community’s 2010 Census mail participation rate and compare it to 2000 at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/.

When: Wednesday, March 24, noon (EDT)

Who: Robert Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau

Jesse Friedman, associate product marketing manager, Google

Where: National Press Club, 13th floor

Holeman Lounge

529 14th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20045

Members of the media may also participate by telephone. (Please dial-in early to allow time for the operator to place you in the call.)

Dial-in number: 1-800-619-4415

Passcode:  2010 CENSUS

Read more: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/census-bureau-rolls-out-new,1215971.shtml#ixzz0izgL9Arq

Another Census Oversight Issue…

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

FOR PLANNING PURPOSES: Mar. 23, 2010

CONTACT:

Emily Spain, Carper, 202-224-2441

Jon Houston, Maloney, 202-225-7944

Gregg Bortz, Dent, 610-861-9734

Sens. Carper, Coburn & Reps. Maloney, Dent to introduce bipartisan Census reform bill

WASHINGTON (Mar. 23, 2010) – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) will hold a press conference Thursday, March 25 at the House Triangle by the U.S. Capitol (rain room TBA) at 11:30 a.m. to announce introduction of the “Census Oversight Efficiency and Management Reform Act.”

This bipartisan bill is crafted to improve Census management challenges which arise from the fact the Census operates on a constitutionally mandated ten-year cycle while Presidential administrations which oversee management of the Census operate on a four-year cycle. The bill strengthens Congressional oversight of the Census to help prevent operational problems that have emerged on the eve of the censuses in 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010, in part from a lack of steady leadership and management due to changes in Presidential administrations.

The bill is timed for consideration just as the country is in the midst of returning their current census forms– drawing attention to the fact that just over two years ago, there were serious last-minute census design changes which threatened a successful, cost-efficient 2010 Census, in part from a lack of steady leadership and management due to changes in Presidential administrations.

WHAT:

Introduction of the Census Oversight Efficiency and Management Reform Act

WHO:

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) Chair, Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security Subcommittee

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chair, Joint Economic Committee

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)

Also attending, two former Census Bureau Directors under both D and R Administrations:

Vincent P. Barabba, (Ford, 1973-1976; Carter, 1979-1981)

Martha Farnsworth Riche, (pronounced “Rich-y”) (Clinton, 1994-1998)

WHEN:

Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 11:30 AM.

WHERE:

Outdoors at the House Triangle by the U.S. Capitol (Rain Room TBA)

How much does it cost to count each person if a plane is needed for counting?

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves has said that it costs $25 to track someone down who hasn’t returned his/her 2010 Census form. But what if you need a plane to reach that person? Presumably this cost skyrockets when people in extraordinarily remote areas need to be counted. Perhaps statistical sampling should be used to count such people. H/t to the Associated Press for the following:

By CLARKE CANFIELD, Associated Press Writer – Sun Mar 21, 1:24 pm ET

PORTLAND, Maine – Census workers are using snowmobiles, airplanes, all-terrain vehicles — even lobster boats — to visit the most far-flung, hidden-away dwellings when counting the nation’s populace.

Hand-delivering 2010 census questionnaires in the bush of Alaska,Maine’s North Woods and other isolated regions isn’t as simple as strolling up a front walk to a suburban home. To get to the more remote homes, census workers might fly over mountains or onto far-removed islands, four-wheel it through forests and contend with deep snow, bone-chilling temperatures and wildlife on the move.

In Maine, census workers will begin delivering forms this week by whatever means it takes — ATV, snowmobile, cross-country skis or snowshoes — to get to those hard-to-get-to places.

“You don’t now what you’re going to find,” said Danielle Forino, who will use her ATV to get to hunting, fishing and logging camps in the wilds of far northern Maine. “And I definitely anticipate coming across a lot of wildlife; the bears are coming out so we have that to look forward to. And I’m not sure if the people will want to be bothered, but hopefully they’ll be cooperative.”

One woman rode horseback to get to homes for the 2000 census, said Rick Theriault, manager of the Census Bureau’s Bangor office for this year’s census. In Alaska, dog sleds are used.

“We do whatever it takes to get the job done,” Theriault said.

In all, 10-question census forms are being delivered to 134 million residences in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Census forms were mailed last week to 90 percent of the homes, about 120 million of them. Census workers are visiting the other 10 percent in person to deliver the forms in areas that don’t have regular mail service or “city-style” addresses to receive mail.

But only two places — much of Alaska and Maine’s North Woods — have been designated by the Census Bureau as requiring special travel arrangements to reach remote locations.

Those rural and sparsely populated areas, which contain less than 1 percent of all U.S. households, have irregular mail service and often cannot be reached by car.

Those people, like everybody else, still have to be counted.

Census officials in January kicked off the start of Census 2010 in one of those remote communities, the Inupiat Eskimo village of Noorvik, Alaska. To reach Noorvik, U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves and other census officials flew to the village and then rode by dog sled to a local school for a launch ceremony.

Often, it’s the weather conditions — extreme cold, high winds, blizzards — that make the going tough. (more…)

Update: Errors in Burmese Translations

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

On March 8, MyTwoCensus posted a story that explained that there were errors in the translations of the Burmese 2010 Census documents  — and documents translated into other languages as well.

Burmese scholars Julian Wheatley of MIT and San San Hnin Tun of Cornell University took the time to correct the errors and re-translate the Burmese documents. The major mistakes are addressed here on the corrected Burmese translation of the 2010 Census form that the two professors created. (There are also questions of standard vs non-standard spellings and some usage changes that the pair has observed, but did not incorporate into the final product, as these are not true errors.)

Perhaps if the Census Bureau consulted experts in the way that I did, these translation errors would have never occurred in the first place.

$110 million 2010 Census printing job includes “Intelligent Mail” barcodes

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Graphic Arts Online has written an interesting piece about the Census Bureau’s use of Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb)  — at a cost of only $25,000 –  which will save the Census Bureau more than $40 million in the long run. H/t to Lisa Cross, Senior Editor of Graphic Arts Online for the following:

The 2010 Census mailing, arriving in boxes this week, marks the single largest use of Intelligent Mail barcodes on US GPO contracts RR Ronnelley and Tabs Direct for printing 110  million paper Census 2010 formsany mailing to date, says the U.S. Postal Service. The Census Bureau will mail 426 million pieces in its effort to gather data on more than 120 million U.S. households.

Including an Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) added $25,000 to the 2010 Census tab, but it is estimated to save $41 million in postage, reports the Wall St. Journal. The IMb enables speedier mail processing, and when combined with other USPS services offers tracking and address correction information.

The printing of 2010 Census materials was done by more than 120 printing firms that won contracts from the Government Printing Office after bidding on the $110 million job.

Some of the contracts awarded include: RR Donnelley, who printed the main Census packages consisting of questionnaires, letters and envelopes. Tabs Direct in Texas produced the advance letters and reminder postcards. Freedom Graphic Systems in Wisconsin produced questionnaires that will be used by enumerators going house to house. GPO Print Procurement employees participated with Census employees in a comprehensive quality control program to mocensus2010webnitor the printing, addressing, inserting and envelope manufacturing at these facilities.

“Supporting the 2010 Census program has been a huge success for GPO and the print procurement staff,” said Public Printer Bob Tapella. “These procurements are an example of how the partnership between GPO, federal agencies and the printing industry can serve the American people and support the local economies where the printing of these materials took place.”

Fact-Checking “20 Million” People Checked American On The 2000 Census

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

As MyTwoCensus suspected, 20 million people did NOT check “American” as their race on the 2000 Census form. The folks who claimed this  were mistaken. In 2000, 20 million people checked “American” as their ancestry. Here’s the full official response to our inquiry from the Census Bureau:

The data you are referring to (20 million “American” responses) come from
the Census 2000 question on Ancestry, not the race question or the Hispanic
origin question.  ”Ancestry” is a different question and concept from race
and Hispanic origin, and is collected in a different manner (open ended
question; sample of the population).

Ancestry refers to ethnic origin, descent, roots, heritage, or place of
birth of the person or the person’s ancestors.  The question on Ancestry
was not intended to measure the respondent’s degree of attachment to a
particular group, but simply to establish that the respondent had a
connection to and self-identified with a particular ethnic group.  The
American Community Survey’s ancestry question separately identifies and
publishes estimates of the population who identify as solely “American,”
and this information is available annual basis.

The Census 2000 report, “Ancestry: 2000″ <
www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/c2kbr-35.pdf> contains the following
information (page 3) –

Seven percent of the U.S. population reported their ancestry as American.
The number who reported American and no other ancestry increased from 12.4
million in 1990 to 20.2 million in 2000, the largest numerical growth of
any group during the 1990s (Footnote: American was considered a valid
ancestry response when it was the only ancestry provided by a respondent.).
This figure represents an increase of 63 percent, as the proportion rose
from 5.0 percent to 7.2 percent of the population.

So again, the 20 million “American” responses come from the question on
Ancestry, not the race question or the Hispanic origin question, and
“ancestry” is a different concept from race and Hispanic origin.

Philadelphia Mommy Blogger Must Decide How To Count Her Kids…

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

OK, I hate “Mommy Blogs.” Seriously. Don’t ever make me read them. I’d rather be sentenced to hard labor. Nonetheless, here’s a fine blog post from a mother in Philly who doesn’t want to differentiate between her “adopted” and “biologicial” children on her 2010 Census form:

Biological or Adopted? and Filling out the 2010 Census

Censusquest_2443-med Today has been a busy day of filling out forms – camper registration, health form, emergency contact information, autism grant application, back-up camp forms (in case we decide to send my son to a “special needs” camp), nursing home application (for my mother in law – and by far the most difficult of the forms I tackled today) and two rebate forms. What an exciting thing to do an a beautiful weekend afternoon.

Oh yeah, I also just finished filling out the 2010 Census form.

This is the third census form I’ve filled out as an adult. It gives me a sense of fulfilling my civic duty, just like when I vote. It took me about ten minutes to fill it out. It probably would have taken less time except I was a bit taken aback when I got to question two when I was entering the information for my two sons. That question asks how this person is related to Person 1 (the first person entered in the form). The options you can check are “biological son or daughter,” “adopted son or daughter,” or “stepson or stepdaughter.”

I suppose if we hadn’t created our family the way we did I wouldn’t think twice about it, but we did, and I do, and the question upset me a little.

At first I was irritated that I was being asked to differentiate between my two children. They are both my sons! They both took a hell of a lot of my blood, sweat and tears to get them here. And since we weren’t able to create a family the “old fashioned” way, they both cost us a damn lot of money to get them here too. So why do I need to indicate that my oldest is my “adopted” son? He’s no different from my youngest son as far as being my son. I’m hard pressed to think of any rational for this differentiation and my quick search on-line didn’t help me either.
But then I started to fill out the information for my youngest and I was actually stumped. Because he doesn’t really fit either of the three options if you want to get down and dirty technical with it. Because despite the fact that I was pregnant with him and gave birth to him, he is not genetically related to me or my husband. Since he is the result of embryo donation can I technically consider him my biological child?

I looked up the definition of “biological” and on the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary it defines it as “connected by direct genetic relationship rather than by adoption or marriage.” On the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition and the The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary it is defined as “related by blood or genetic lineage.”

I assume that when they came up with the questions for this census something like embryo adoption didn’t factor in there. I guess egg donation and sperm donation didn’t either. It’s actually a little tricky when you fill out the form, because depending on who you list as person number 1 dictates how you would “technically” answer this question. Do a Google search and see how this question is troubling the LGBT community.

Of course I filled out the form and answered all the questions and it will be in the mail tomorrow. Despite my irritation at that question I know it is important that everyone be counted. It certainly got me thinking though, and more interested in why the Census asks what it does and how information like “adopted or biological” will be used.

So did you send your Census back yet? And if you did, what did you think of that question, especially if you have “biological” kids? Did you think the options were strange?

This is an original Philly Moms Blog post. Kristine also writes on her personal blog, Mommy Needs Therapy or a Bottle of Wine, where she chronicles the good, the bad, and the crazy of her life as a mother, wife and woman.

Photo Credit: U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office

Do Spanish speakers get an extra month to complete their forms?

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

UPDATE: All BE COUNTED forms, intended for people may not have received 2010 Census forms when they were supposed to, are to be returned by May 1, regardless of what language the forms have been printed in. Thanks to our readers for clarifying.

H/t to Denise Poon who created last week’s article series for Spot.us for bringing the following to my attention:

Census Day is undoubtedly April 1, 2010…so why does this 2010 Census form tell Spanish-speakers that they have until May 1 to return it? Was this a printing error? A translation error? An operational error? A double standard? MyTwoCensus has contacted the Census Bureau about this case and hopes to hear an answer very soon.

Census Address Situation In West Virginia Blown Out Of Proportion…

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

After speaking to multiple sources, MyTwoCensus has been able to clarify the situation that led to West Virginia news outlets claiming that citizens with the wrong city on their 2010 Census forms may not be counted properly. A senior government official, who has requested anonymity wrote to us the following:

The story about ZIP codes is much ado about nothing. This happens ALL the time even with mass mailers.   Post office ZIP codes often provide  service to multiple areas.  It does not impact mail delivery or Census results.

I checked the issue on Parkersburg and Vienna, WV.  They share a ZIP Code, 26105. People often believe that Postal Delivery information is geographic information….

They’ve gotten used to seeing statistics published by ZIP Codes.   FYI – ZIP Codes are NOT geographic data.  They are a method employed by the USPS to facilitate the delivery of mail.  They frequently change (as delivery routes change) and have little to do with the underlying political geographic (or statistical area) definitions.

I was able to verify that both cities in West Virginia have the same ZIP Code by simply looking them up on the United States Postal Service web site. So now we can safely say that this issue should be put to rest.

Can someone send me a “Partnership Specialist” handbook?

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

I would really love to know if the Census Bureau tells its “partnership specialists” to proclaim every 2010 Census an event a success, even if it is actually a colossal failure. From reading recent articles about poor turnouts at Census Bureau events that are called “successes” by staff members, this seems like a probably strategy. I hope that there’s a reader out there who can clarify this information for me. Many thanks in advance. – SRM

Spot.us & MyTwoCensus.com Team Up…

Friday, March 19th, 2010

As an independent journalist, I am aware of how difficult it can be to earn money from reporting, as newspapers and magazines continue to hit new financial lows. Fortunately, sites like Spot.us are using innovative methods to finance journalism. I recently volunteered as a peer review editor to assist journalist Denise Poon who is writing stories about the 2010 Census for Spot.us. The following two stories, about multi-racial reporting and hard-to-count communities in California, are the the products of this collaboration:

The Census on Multiracial IDs

The Census Search for Hard To Count Communities

Justice Department Says: Patriot Act Does Not Override Privacy of Census Information

Friday, March 19th, 2010

The following is a story from Feet In 2 Worlds, an pro-immigration reform organization:

By Diego Graglia

In a new attempt to reassure undocumented immigrants that taking part in the 2010 Census is safe and that the Census Bureau will not share information with other government agencies, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D.-N.Y.) obtained a letter from the Department of Justice stating that the confidentiality of the count is not superseded by the Patriot Act.

Velázquez sent two letters to the agency in September and December last year, asking what effect the anti-terrorism bill could have on the confidentiality protections the Census Act provides.

“Your letters express concern on the part of some members of the public that information-gathering or information-sharing provisions of the Patriot Act may override the confidentiality requirements of the Census Act so as to require the Commerce Secretary to disclose otherwise covered census information to federal law enforcement or national security officials,” wrote assistant attorney general Ronald Weich in a response dated March 3, 2010.

Weich then went on to say that the precedents in federal legislation which protect census participants’ information from disclosure support “the view that if Congress intended to override these protections if would say so clearly and explicitly.”

No provision of the Patriot Act, he added, contradicts that view.

At the same time, a different letter, this one part of a signature-gathering campaign, showed that efforts to distance the Census campaign from the stronger enforcement of immigration laws of the last few years have not been 100% successful.

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights wants support for its request of a “suspension of immigration enforcement activities in order to maximize immigrant community participation” in the Census.

Immigrant advocates have expressed concerns that undocumented foreigners won’t participate in the Census out of fear of government officials.

NNIRR notes in the letter that “in the past two census periods, during 1990 and 2000, many operations were suspended for specific periods,” but it also acknowledges that the Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security “have thus far not indicated that they will take any steps.”

The Feet in Two Worlds project on the Census is made possible thanks to the generous support of the 2010 Census Outreach Initiative Fund at The New York Community Trust.

Federal Census officials get an earful from local community leaders

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

H/t to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press for the following:

Days after U.S. Census forms began hitting mailboxes, local religious and government leaders are sounding alarms that St. Louisans will be undercounted thanks to wasteful efforts and poor planning.

The criticism came at a roundtable hosted by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, part of the federal government’s push to encourage community leaders to promote the decennial head count and get residents to return census forms.

At Wednesday’s roundtable, Josh Wiese, an aide to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, complained that the census was using “a cookie-cutter” approach to counting that wouldn’t work in “high-crime, low-education” areas the same way it works in the suburbs.

“If this isn’t done right, we’ll certainly hold the Census Bureau accountable,” Wiese told Cedric Grant, director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships program, representing the Census Bureau’s parent agency.

Evan Armstrong, of the St. Louis-based International Institute, said he was frustrated that U.S. citizens are given preference for census field work, even if they don’t speak the language of the refugee or immigrant groups they will be counting.

Both Wiese and St. Louis County planning manager Lori Fiegel brought up the challenges of counting the city’s large Bosnian population. Fiegel said her office had been promised a Bosnian liaison, which never materialized. When a census official said the liaison had, indeed, been provided, Fiegel said no one had told her office about it.

“The Bosnian community is afraid of the government, afraid of the government, afraid of the government,” Wiese said. “Then, on April 1, they’re supposed to trust the government before going back to being afraid of the government again the next day.”

William Siedhoff, director of the St. Louis Department of Human Services, said the city’s own annual census of its homeless population, completed in January, would have to be repeated by census workers because the bureau didn’t respond to the city’s suggestion to partner on the January effort.

David Newburger, from the city’s office on the disabled, said data provided by the bureau to help reach the city’s disabled citizens were not specific enough and should include street names. Grant said privacy issues prevented that specificity.

The contentious atmosphere at the roundtable “was based on past experience and the anticipation that undercounts are going to happen again,” Siedhoff said after the meeting.

Dennis Johnson, the bureau’s regional director, defended the census in an interview, saying the effort could not succeed without community partners.

“Someone looking for the federal government to provide all the tools is not going to reach every corner of the community,” Johnson said. “But working through partners who already have outreach systems is one of the most effective communications vehicles the census has.”

Local complaints mirror national ones. Last year, a string of independent reports from the Government Accountability Office and others found mismanagement and troubling computer failures at the Census Bureau. (more…)