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

House Resolution 1046 Final Version: Census Awareness Month, March 2010

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

To read the final bipartisan resolution that was passed with overwhelming support in the House of Representatives a few hours ago, click here: HR1046

House of Representatives Passes “Census Awareness Month” Bill

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

UPDATE: This resolution passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (I swear, I’m not making this up, and I am quite happy at this moment!) – a rarity these days. Ron Paul was the only Nay (No) vote, and Rob Bishop of Utah, still bitter about Utah falling just short of obtaining an extra Congressional seat in 2000 and the Census Bureau’s refusal to count missionaries who are abroad for extended periods of time, voted present. The remaining 409 Members of the House of Representatives who were in attendance today all voted Aye (Yes) to support the resolution. The final amended resolution can be found here: HR1046

Well, we’re already 10% finished with this month, but March 2010 is now Census Awareness Month according to the United States House of Representatives. The resolution, which had 62 sponsors, passed this afternoon. Here’s the text of the resolution – which has since been amended to clear up statistical debates and other issues that didn’t please both parties (new final version coming soon):

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. RES. 1096

Encouraging individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 23, 2010

Mr. REYES (for himself, Mr. ORTIZ, Mr. GRIJALVA, Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas, Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. GONZALEZ, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, Mr. AL GREEN of Texas, Mrs. NAPOLITANO, Mr. BACA, Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas, Mr. GUTIERREZ, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Mr. SIRES, Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN, Mr. BUTTERFIELD, Mr. CLEAVER, Ms. CLARKE, Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas, Mr. CLAY, Mr. HINOJOSA, Ms. BORDALLO, Mr. SALAZAR, Mr. CUELLAR, Mrs. CHRISTENSEN, Ms. FUDGE, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Ms. RICHARDSON, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. CHAFFETZ, Ms. WATSON, Mrs. MALONEY, Mr. THOMPSON of California, Mr. HONDA, Mr. MEEKS of New York, Mr. MORAN of Virginia, Ms. NORTON, Ms. MCCOLLUM, Mr. MCHENRY, Ms. MATSUI, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. BISHOP of Georgia, Ms. CHU, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Mrs. DAVIS of California, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida, Mrs. LOWEY, Mr. RODRIGUEZ, Mr. PALLONE, Mr. CAO, and Ms. WOOLSEY) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform


RESOLUTION

Encouraging individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month.

Whereas the Constitution requires an actual enumeration of the population every 10 years;

Whereas an accurate census count is vital to the well-being of communities in the United States by helping planners determine where to locate schools, daycare centers, roads and public transportation, hospitals, housing, and other essential facilities;

Whereas businesses in the United States use census data to support new investments and growth;

Whereas census data ensure fair Federal, State, and local representation in the United States and help determine the composition of voting districts at each level;

Whereas census data directly affect how more than $400,000,000,000 in Federal and State funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, etc.;

Whereas census data help identify changes in a community and are crucial for the distribution of adequate services to a growing population;

Whereas the 2000 Census determined the United States had a total population of 281,421,906 and current estimates project the population has grown to 308,573,696;

Whereas the 2010 Census is fast, safe, and easy to complete, with just 10 questions, and requiring only about 10 minutes;

Whereas the 2010 Census data are strictly confidential and Federal law prevents the information from being shared with any entity;

Whereas the data obtained from the census are protected under United States privacy laws, cannot be disclosed for 72 years, or used against any person by any Government agency or court;

Whereas neighborhoods with large populations of low-income and minority residents are especially at risk of being undercounted in the 2010 Census;

Whereas, in the 2000 Census count, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asian Americans were most likely to be undercounted;

Whereas it is estimated that over 16,000,000 people were not counted in the 2000 Census resulting in a decreased share of Federal funding for those undercounted communities; and

Whereas the month of March 2010 would be an appropriate month to designate as Census Awareness Month: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
    • (1) encourages individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010;
    • (2) urges State, local, county, and tribal governments, as well as other organizations to emphasize the importance of the 2010 Census and actively encourages all individuals to participate; and
    • (3) supports the designation of Census Awareness Month.

Encouraging News From Michelle Bachmann: She’s On Board With The 2010 Census

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

From TheHill.com (click for complete story):

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who last year said she was not going to fill out her census form, intends to vote for a measure this week that encourages Americans to participate in the 2010 census.

According to an aide in Bachmann’s office, the North Star State lawmaker intends to vote for a “census awareness” measure on Wednesday.

The resolution, offered by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), implores “individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month,” according to a description of the measure.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Get the $800 million back from Harris Corp.

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Taxpayers and government officials alike are either unaware of ignorant of one major debacle: The failure of the Harris Corp. to get their job done in creating and implementing functional mobile technology for the Census Bureau. Though this contract, signed in 2006, was originally valued at $600 million, it swelled to $800 million. (Reward insufficient and terrible work with more money…sounds like a solid government plan!!!)

If taxpayers have ever been swindled, this is the company that did it. (Harris Corp. was supposed to save the government $1 billion by implementing technology successfully, but in reality cost taxpayers $800 million for nothing!!! )  Unfortunately, higher-ups at the Census Bureau, initially during the Bush Administration, and currently during the Obama Administration, have done very little to recoup these losses. Legal action should be taken against this company for not performing the services that it was assigned to do. A large portion of this money should be returned to the United States Treasury — or at the very least, used to pay individuals working on the NRFU operations that will have to use a pen and pencil rather than a handheld computer.

In the year 2010, this is nothing short of pathetic. The government’s decision to choose the Harris Corporation for this contract was ludicrous. It’s decision to keep fueling the fires with $200 million of additional cash is shady at best.

MyTwoCensus intends to A. File an FOIA request to find out as much information about this contract as possible and B. Bring down Harris Corp. so they are forced to give this taxpayer money back.

MyTwoCensus urges Congress to pass legislation that prevents this company from obtaining more government contracts until the money for the 2010 Census contract is returned. Immediate government divestment from a corporation that robbed taxpayers is the only way to send the right message.

Additionally, MyTwoCensus calls on the government to immediately terminate  the Census Bureau’s 5-year contract with the Harris Corporation, as it is currently in its 5th year, and that means that there is still a chance to withhold 20% of the cash, or roughly $160 million.

On a more cheeky note, if Tea Party activists want to think of a site to hold their next protest, the Melbourne, Florida headquarters of this sleezy corporation would be one of the best and most symbolic places to do it!

In Focus: Freedom of Information Act Requests

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com is apparently not the ONLY source that files Freedom of Information Act requests with the Census Bureau. Yesterday, MyTwoCensus obtained a  list of all FOIA requests to the Census Bureau (click HERE). The report covers the period from July 6, 2009 through August 28, 2009. During that time there were 48 requests for information, so roughly one per day. Of those requests, the 16 where names are blocked out represent Census Bureau employees trying to obtain their own data or individuals searching for personal records (like birth certificates). Of the records in the report, the following results are evident:

12 of the requests could not be fulfilled due to no suitable information being available.

5 of the requests were denied because the requester could not pay the fees (Scroll down to VII on this report to read about who gets fee waivers!)

4 of the requests asked for information that was already publicly available.

2 of the requests were withdrawns.

My personal requests took 20, 24 and 30 days before I had the information I requested, and all three of my requests were only partially granted — two with quite a bit of redacted information.

Recommendations from the Inspector General’s Office

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we posted the Inspector General’s Quarterly Report to Congress on the 2010 Census. Here are some updated recommendations from Todd Zinser, the Inspector General of the Commerce Department, in a memo to Census Director Robert M. Groves:

Recommendations:

Given the challenges involving PBOCS and the lack of time remaining in the schedule, Census should realign PBOCS development and testing, placing greater emphasis on minimizing the impact of the system’ s limitations during operations. We recommend that you ensure that the following actions are taken:

• senior executives with the authority to set priorities – s u c h as reallocating resources to where they are most needed, resolving conflicting priorities, and making major changes to the decennial schedule or plan – - closely monitor PBOCS activities and act to expeditiously reduce operational risk;

• streamline development and testing by further reducing PBOCS capabilities to the essentials needed for the most important enumeration operations;

• focus on developing standardized procedural workarounds for PBOCS capabilities that cannot be implemented to support operations; and

• enhance technical support staff and procedures to expeditiously resolve problems in the field.

To improve cost containment efforts for future operations, we also recommend that you ensure that Census Bureau management develops effective internal controls over wage, travel, and training costs and scrupulously follows these controls.


Census Takers Begin Hand Delivering 2010 Census Questionnaires to 12 Million Addresses

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Census Bureau Press Release (to read it in its entirety, click HERE):

About 56,000 census workers today began hand delivering 2010 Census questionnaires to roughly 12 million addresses across the nation, mostly in rural areas where people do not receive mail at the same location as their residence. Most of nation’s 120 million households, about 90 percent of the U.S. population, should look for their 10-question forms to arrive by mail mid-March.

While the majority of areas covered by this operation are rural, the Census Bureau also is delivering forms to Gulf Coast areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to ensure everyone is included in the once-a-decade count. Census takers will deliver 2010 Census questionnaires directly to each residence in these areas, leaving a form packaged in a plastic bag at the home’s main door. Residents are encouraged to fill out and mail back their census forms — using the enclosed pre-paid envelope — as soon as possible.

“Regardless of whether your census form gets dropped off at your front door or you receive it within a few weeks in your mailbox, it’s important that you fill it out and mail it back as soon as possible,” said Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. “With only 10 questions, the 2010 Census should only take about 10 minutes to complete.”

In 2000, about 72 percent of the population mailed back their census forms — halting a three-decade decline in the national mail participation rate. Mailing back the forms save taxpayers money, as it reduces the number of census takers that must go door-to-door to follow up with households that failed to do so. The Census Bureau saves about $85 million in operational costs for every percentage point increase in the national mail response rate.

“It costs us just 42 cents in a postage paid envelope when households mail back their 2010 Census forms,” Groves said. “The Census Bureau will spend about $25 per person if we have to go out and knock on the doors of households that don’t mail them back.”

Goodyear blimps to promote census

Monday, March 1st, 2010

From RubberNews.com:

AKRON (March 1, 2010)—Goodyear will use its blimps to help the U.S. Census Bureau promote the 2010 census by flying a special message over sports and entertainment events and public appearances.

The message will run on the three Akron-based Goodyear blimps operating in the U.S.: the Spirit of Goodyear, based in Suffield, Ohio; the Spirit of America in Carson, Calif; and the Spirit of Innovation in Pompano Beach, Fla.

The blimp message will help the Census Bureau raise the profile of the census, said Dwight Dean, U.S. Census Bureau regional director for Detroit.

Census Bureau Press Office Responds To Our Controversial Jobs Post

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Last Monday, we published a controversial post about the length of Census Bureau jobs, which we learned from a Census Bureau insider are often-times over-stated. Our question about this issue to the Census Bureau’s public information office was initially met with a very vague response. However, yesterday, we received an elaborate response from Stephen Buckner, who runs the show (so-to-speak) when it comes to the suits of Suitland dealing with the press.

(Here’s my best description of Stephen in one sentence: Picture Aaron Eckhart’s character Nick Naylor in Thank You For Smoking, but change all of the mumbo-jumbo about cigarettes to the Census Bureau.)

The following is the unabridged response from Mr. Buckner:

The length of time a temporary census worker may be employed depends upon the time frame in which they are hired and the operation taking place at that time.

The skills needed, and number of staff required, vary across our numerous operations in the massive undertaking.   The single largest operation is Non-Response Follow-Up (door-to-door enumeration) from May through July with hiring and training in April.  Over 600,000 persons will be hired for this operation, however the precise number is dependent upon the share of households that mail back their census form in March – April.  We would like nothing more than to be required to hire far less than our planning goals because far more households mailed back their census forms than we have witnessed in prior censuses.

Our hiring process has to recruit a large pool of applicants so that we are prepared for a range of response rates across the entire country.  We know from experience some areas will need many more workers than other parts of the country and we are using historical data to help be prepared for these variations.   Other major operations for which we recruit temporary employees include the Update/Leave operation, (the hand delivery of questionnaires to 12 million housing units in March), staffing Questionnaire Assistance Centers from Feb 26 to Apr 19, staffing Be Counted Sites from Mar 19 to Apr 19, and staffing Telephone Questionnaire Assistance from Feb 25 to July 30.

The Census Bureau builds a recruiting pool of applicants in order to have readily available and qualified workers for all operations.  These individual operations take place over a number of months, but people are not hired to work from start to end on all operations.  Most jobs last only a few weeks, and sometimes less if there is not a large workload in a particular area.  It is difficult to explain these complexities in a brief recruiting message or advertisement, especially in this economy.  During our interview and training process, we try to stress that we are not hiring a workforce to be in place from beginning to end of all of our operations.  The length of time temporary employees may serve is also dependent upon the efficiency of the total workforce in any given operation or location.   If we recruit and hire a more experienced and qualified workforce that completes tasks at rates higher than projected, then they are likely to be employed for shorter periods.

Our regional and local census offices monitor recruiting at the census tract level in order to make every effort to recruit from the neighborhood where the work is to be done.  In the 2010 Census we are able to focus in on those hard-to-recruit tracts because it has taken less effort to recruit in the other tracts.   We’ve never done such detailed tracking before in prior censuses.

Most 2010 Census jobs are temporary and last up to several weeks.  It is correct that some jobs will last 8 months.  This refers to management positions in Local Census Offices which began opening last fall.  However, there are far fewer of these positions in comparison to field jobs described above.