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.
If DALT (and successor, DALT 2) was any indicator- it merits a broader scope than why PBOCS is down. In the Decennial Applicant Load Test, all stations systemwide were to log in within a very short time frame. Result? Out to lunch, of course. After some hours of waiting to get into FDCA (forget DAPPS altogether), the whole thing was slated for a revisit later, which became DALT 2. In this exercise, staggered logins were scheduled. The voice of god on the phone was saying things like “go to tools, clear the cache… in perfect ignorance of the fact that it was the server, not each terminal, that was clogged with trafic. The AMT was running around like a headless chicken clearing caches, while of all people a lowly clerk sat there resolute in not touching even the mouse- and who got into FDCA, and DAPPS, and saw the “success” tag for entries, first?
Once in, the word was to keep the system loaded. It’s not working now, so let’s throw more on it? Sorry, I come from a background of making things work under stress, not whipping a dead horse.
Near the end of the 2, VOG said “get screenshots”. At the end? When everyone’s shutting down anyway? We had a clerk who had been doing that all along, tracking and logging this to the server in question, printing it all for posterity. A supply clerk, no less. Duh. Even some artist who works with the bureau figured the cache thing out.
The crux- instead of fixing blame to who’s responsible (such as blaming Mr. Monaghan for his own inheritance in a broke system)- let’s look at the system itself: here we have tens of thousands of people who have never worked together, and treat it like it’s a sinking ship anyway (3 weeks for some)- and it shows. The office politic is more to blame than server #2, as is the disparity of peoples’ needing to perform training and results instantly (why not just park the NKVD behind them) under threat of immediate dismissal.
Mr. Monaghan et al have a herculean task- mold a smooth-running government operation from anyone on the street, and do it now (or just-in-time, as we like to say).
Census might do well to reconfigure the whole ball: longer term training in middle management, less middle management, and more competent and responsive direction overall. Surety in management would preclude firing smart employees for raising warnings as to enumerator safety to cover its own undercompetence. Instead of slamming this together, one wave after another of short-timer running on little background, can we consider taking on some career types who don’t jump ship to a higher spot in a second, but are dedicated to their posts, as opposed to people who are out of work and kind of fit, who make and leave a mess for others?
PBOCS is one lesion. Dumpsters full of unopened forms are another. Even calling initializations like “GQV” acronyms is just wrong at the core, and a streak that undermines the integrity of an agency presumably founded upon verity. Some test answers are just the wrong ones in reality- one calls for a lie- but it’s what we want to hear for a good score. This whole cannoli needs a firmer base, and one of people who care about it more than they do acting important and getting their way. If I went in to the petty politics of career office unemployed working here, it’d be basis for another office idiot survival book. These people don’t belong here; maybe half do. NPC rocks. People in support at RCC generally do. Sack this AM and “stooge” as someone at another office labelled him.
This isn’t all about griping; it’s about cleaning house. We’ve had people dying to get out of here. We have one or two “managers” who are bullies- but we will if the only emphasis is on numbers turned out. Firing people who make good suggestions indeed. This is stupid- but it isn’t Mr. Monaghan. The homies we drag in to represent us- I don’t care what neighborhood they’re from- don’t need the job more than we need to do it well. We need leadership that knows how to, at every level, not microwaved instant bosses of vast groups or workers. We need thorough fingerprint training- some complain to me that they got nothing of it; others, that their CL is incompetent to lead. We hire some who can barely communicate. We have people who stock their home offices with our supplies…
If we fix it at the cellular level, you’ll see an organization to be proud of, not ashamed of.
Come back in ten years after that, and Census won’t be an orphan that no agency wants.
I was at the local LCO today and listened to the recruitment personnel trying to hire people for third shift (12 midnight to 9 am @ $11.25 an hour) with little success. They even offered it to me, and I’m, an enumerator at $15.00 and hour. Remember, they hire people based on their score on the preliminary test, so as they get nearer to the bottom of the test scores, the applicant pool is less talented.
The Census Bureau had exactly two years to develop a PAPER BASED OCS when the conclusion was made that the stupid contract-based GWB-headed Harris approach was not going to work for NRFU. And now, nine (?) years after Bush was elected, Stephen Morse is calling for heads.
I am working in a LCO of a major southern city. I was hired as a ‘temp’ employee (just to get them through the first few weeks of actual enumeration) and in 4 days I am overwhelmed by the pathetic nature of the whole operation.
Today was my first day working on PBOCS. Three boxes of forms were handed to me to scan( just scan with a redline laser) in to PBOCS. After getting set up and trained, it then froze up. I was told to sit there and wait for it to come back up. After an hour and a few reboots, it worked again. I got through the first two boxes in less than 2 hours. (each box held 500-700 forms). The last box took longer than the first two combined because it kept crashing and I had to log out, log in and restart.
It is always crashing, or running so slow you can go get a drink, hit the head and have a cig before it has moved one screen.
I have started to look for a new job. After returning to the workforce after raising my kids, I was worried, “Would I still have what it takes?” Boy is my confidence strong. What a bunch of morons! The only problem is I am embarrassed to put the 2010 Senseless on my resume.
[...] Associated Press released a short article (below) that discusses the Census Bureau’s repeated paper-based operations control system failures. In response to Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves’ comment that, “the problems [...]
THE PBOCS system, as they call it…..is basically an ABOMINATION….tested supposedly months ago, the system has never worked properly, and NRFU hasn’t even gotten underway in full forc yet…the DAPPS system, which pays people is also a nightmare…down constantly, and unavailable for days at a time, it just doesn’t handle volume….”Upper Management” here in the NY area has absolutely NO CLUE how to handle crisis, and revert to belittling, yelling at managers in the LCO’s…the amount of “good-old-boy” going on in Census is atrocious, and people who were hired to share management philosophies are basically told to keep quiet….more to come