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 April, 2010

Security Alert: Haz-Mat teams at Baltimore Census processing facility…again.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

From the Baltimore Sun…too bad this plot line never made it into The Wire:

Suspicious powder was found this morning at a processing center of the U.S. Census Bureau in Essex, though it was found to be harmless.

The Baltimore County police and fire departments were called around 10 a.m. to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Data Capture Center, in the 8400 block of Kelso Drive, to examine a package containing a small amount of powder, said Elise Armacost, the fire department spokeswoman.

“We did not evacuate the building, no one was showing symptoms, there were no transports,” Armacost said. “People were removed from the immediate vicinity while we were testing.”

The substance was deemed non-threatening, Armacost said.

The plant — which processes 2010 Census questionnaires as they are returned — resumed operations by early afternoon, said Markia McLeod, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau.

McLeod said that Baltimore County Hazmat teams have responded to the Essex facility for six incidents since it opened last year. The last time was in March, when powder found inside a census envelope turned out to be coffee creamer.

– Erica L. Green

Census Bureau Press Release: Second Round of Census Forms Mailed to 40 Million Households…Targeted Mailing Reminds Residents There is Still Time to Return Questionnaires

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

The following is a Census Bureau press release that just came into the inbox:

To reduce the estimated $2.7 billion cost of following up with
households that fail to mail back their 2010 Census questionnaires, the
U.S. Census Bureau has begun mailing second forms to approximately 40
million housing units in areas that had below-average response rates in the
2000 Census.

“Census Bureau and a multitude of private sector research shows that
sending a replacement questionnaire to households can significantly
increase response rates in the end,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves
said. “We estimate that the second mailing could increase America’s mail
participation rate in the 2010 Census by 7 to 10 percentage points, and
doing so would save taxpayers more than $500 million.”

According to the Census Bureau, every percentage point increase in the
national participation rate by mail saves about $85 million. It costs the
government just 42 cents in a postage paid envelope to get a questionnaire
back in the mail, but it costs taxpayers an average of $57 to count a
household that fails to mail it back.

Second questionnaires were mailed last week to every housing unit in
areas that had a mail response rate of 59 percent or less in 2000, or about
24.7 million households. The questionnaires were sent to all households,
regardless of whether they had already returned their 2010 Census form.

In areas that had response rates between 59 and 67 percent — below the
national average of 67 percent — replacement forms will be sent only to
households that have not yet mailed back their completed 2010 Census form.
These 15 million households will receive a second form April 6-10.

Households have until mid-April to mail back their forms before census
takers begin going door to door to residences that failed to respond.

“We understand that people lead busy lives and may not have gotten
around to sending back their forms yet,” Groves said. “The replacement form
gives them a second chance to get counted and help ensure that their
community gets its fair share of political representation and federal funds
over the next 10 years.”

Currently, the national mail participation rate is 60 percent, with some
of the lowest rates in Alaska, California, Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
The latest national and local participation rates can be viewed at
http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map.

Homeless/Transient Census Enumeration Operations Currently Underway…

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Please share any stories, comments, or questions in the comments section! We would love to hear your stories from the field about this operation!

CNN Conservative Commentator To Whip Out His Shotgun On Enumerators?

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

H/t to Media Matters for America:

Huffington Post: “Erickson Shotgun-Census Remark: Commerce Dept. Pushes Back”

April 05, 2010 6:10 pm ET by Media Matters Staff

From an April 5 article by Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein:

The Commerce Department is pushing back against census critics, subtly reminding conservative blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson that the workers whom he’s threatened to pull a shotgun on are simply doing required, temporary and important work.

In a statement provided to the Huffington Post, Nicholas Kimball, a spokesman for the Commerce Department — which oversees the 2010 census counting — said that precautions are being made to “protect the safety of both census workers and the public.”

Going through the logistics of the process, Kimball noted that the census workers dispatched to help collect raw data (in the form of a ten-point questionnaire) are usually fellow locals. Taking a small dig at Erickson, without naming names, he added:

So, that means someone knocking on a door in, for example, Macon, Georgia, is likely to be from that community or neighborhood. They’re just someone looking for a little extra work during these difficult economic times – and looking to help fulfill the mission of our Founding Fathers.

Stephen Colbert Takes On The 2010 Census

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
United States Census 2010
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Reform

Groves Speaks At Princeton

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Here’s what the Daily Princetonian had to say:

Census head speaks about methodology

By Ben Kotopka
Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
Robert Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, discusses new marketing techniques employed by the Census Bureau during a Monday lecture in Robertson Hall.

“He made a pretty good case that the marketing budget cuts costs,” Atul Sood said. “He was a really humorous speaker — far more funny than you would expect a census guy to be.”

Americans living in neighborhoods with poor census return rates had better watch out. Armed with signs, bullhorns and the sirens of local fire trucks, 250 of the Census Bureau’s local partner groups across the United States will begin the “March to the Mailbox” this Saturday. The march is an effort to urge residents of neighborhoods with low response rates to send in their forms, Robert Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, said in a lecture on Monday.“This is a little out of control,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s kind of unusual for a federal agency to do this.”

In his lecture, held in Robertson Hall, Groves discussed the goals and methodology of the 2010 Census. The census, which is used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives and some federal funding to states, involves printing 120 million questionnaire packages — a total of more than 400 million forms — and contacting 134 million households, Groves explained.

“The printing is such that we were right at the country’s capacity of printing,” he noted.

To reach as large a population as possible, the Census Bureau provides guides in 59 languages. It also conducts a massive marketing campaign on television and online that targets specific ethnic groups with low populations in the United States, such as the Hmong, Groves explained.

In recent years, the marketing process has been modernized.

“In 1990 and earlier, public service announcements were used, [and] as with most PSAs, they ran at three in the morning and no one saw them,” Groves said. But, he explained, the introduction of paid advertising in 2000 helped reverse a three-decade trend in declining census returns and saved the Census Bureau money by reducing the number of follow-up visits to homes.

The marketing effort is complemented by grassroots community-level involvement. The Census Bureau works with more than 22,000 partner organizations ranging from big-box stores such as Target and Walmart to small residential associations, Groves said.

Groves also noted the Census Bureau’s unprecedented effort to track performance in real time. The agency now tracks response rates as census forms are received and posts them online, allowing for advertising “interventions” in undercounted areas, like the Texas–Mexico border.

For all the census’s precision and organization, though, some problems are inevitable, Groves said.

“Every day, there’s a crisis somewhere, in some little place in the country,” he explained. “There will be [Census Bureau employees] who will be killed … There will be crimes committed by our staff. Everything will happen. You have a massive number of human beings trying to do something in a very short period of time.”

Groves also answered audience questions and said he had heard about the efforts of some University students to “queer the census.”

As part of that effort, letters appeared in students’ mailboxes last week urging them to identify their sexual orientation on a sticker, which could then be placed on census envelopes.

Though the census will report the numbers of same-sex couples in each state for the first time, it would not take reports of sexual orientation into account, Groves explained.

“Some in the [LGBT] community would like much more detailed measures that would reflect how they view themselves,” Groves said. “We’re not going to do it.”

He added that the wording and content of census questions has always been a source of controversy.

“The census is a contentious thing … and the disputes always involve how a particular group believes they’re being viewed by the census,” Groves said.

About 50 people — mainly faculty members, Wilson School students and town residents — attended the lecture. Their reactions to Groves’s lecture were generally positive.

Karl Rove + Census + YouTube = Increased GOP Support?

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

MyTwoCensus Editorial: 2010 Census Partners Google and YouTube Should Remove Propaganda Video Immediately

Monday, April 5th, 2010

When you search for “census” on YouTube, the first video that appears is by some nutcase named Jerry Day (representing some obscure outlet called Matrix News), who doesn’t have his facts straight and inaccurately describes Census Bureau procedures. This video has nearly two million views. It spouts many lies, as well as very biased statements. (Part of the problem is that the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office wouldn’t speak to him on the phone, but I’ll save that criticism for another day…)

Google and its subsidiary YouTube  should remove this video immediately. It is more shocking that these organizations are enabling this nonsense, because they have already created a partnership with the Census Bureau. At the very least, it should not come up  so frequently in searches. The video likely only gains more and more viewers because it is the first video that appears on searches. The Census Bureau’s communications department (including Steve Jost and Stephen Buckner) as well as Census Director Dr. Robert M. Groves,  have failed in that they have not pressured Google to remove this video. Yes, Jerry Day is entitled to freedom of speech, but his reporting is full of lies, so Google, a private company, should not be propagating this anti-2010 Census propaganda.

Here’s a screen capture of a typical YouTube search:

The Reno Gazette-Journal Fact Checks the Census Bureau…

Monday, April 5th, 2010

A nice piece from Nevada:

Fact checker: Census value rounded up — way up

By Kelly Scott

Last week, a news release from Nevada Census 2010 claimed that “for every resident counted, Nevada stands to receive nearly $10,000 each year of our fair share of federal funding during the next decade.”

Being that Thursday was the once-in-a-decade census day, I decided to see how that number actually breaks down.

Reno Gazette-Journal articles have reported that the state gets “more than $900 a year per person in federal tax dollars” each year for the next decade based on census answers.

Background

The census is used to calculate the numbers for a great deal of federal funding and other things. Among the types of programs based on census results are the Washoe County School District’s free lunch program, transportation funding and money to help senior citizens. Census numbers are used to divvy up seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Analysis of the numbers

My first thought was that there was a rounding error in the numbers. Maybe the news release just rounded up?

Well, here’s how it breaks down according to our data guru Mark Robison:

Nevada gets $917 a year per person in federal funds because of census data. That adds up to $9,170 per person over 10 years, not $10,000 over a single year. Robison said he thinks the official state news release we received was likely an honest mistake because other promotional materials have used $10,000 per decade as the amount of additional funding the state stands to receive per person. But that still rounds up $9,170 to $10,000, when customary rounding would normally lower the figure to $9,000.

To find the source of the funds-per-resident claim, Robison dug into a SAGE Commission report sent to Gov. Jim Gibbons last year that urged the state to actually spend money on trying to get people to participate in the census because the state stood to gain more than what it likely would spend.

Here’s an excerpt from the report: “According to the Census Bureau, over $3 trillion in funding is allocated nationwide based on census figures. In 2000, the Legislative Counsel Bureau estimated that the state lost $670 per person per year for every Nevadan missed by the 2000 Census. Recently, the Legislative Counsel Bureau, Nevada State Data Center, and Nevada State Demographer came together to update that figure for 2010. Due to the combined effects of inflation and expanded federal investment returning to Nevada, their collective estimate is that Nevada will now lose $917 per person per year for every Nevadan missed in the 2010 Census.”

For the rest of the article click HERE.

Two interesting articles from Maryland and Texas about prisoners and the 2010 Census…

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

From the Herald-Mail in Maryland:

Bill would alter inmate count for Census

By ERIN JULIUS

ANNAPOLIS — Washington County might lose about 6,000 people from its legislative and congressional districts because of a bill that has been passed by both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.

The bill excludes state inmates who were not state residents before their incarceration, and requires that prisoners be counted as residents of their last known address before prison.

About 6,000 prisoners are housed in the three state prisons south of Hagerstown, a prison spokesman said Friday.

Local jail populations are not included in the bill.

All but one of Washington County’s eight local lawmakers voted against the measure.

The change in how to count the population will be relevant in creating legislative districts for the U.S. Congress, Maryland General Assembly, and county and municipal governing bodies, according to the bill.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, called the bill “a blatant power grab by, predominantly, the Baltimore City delegation.” Changing how prisoners are counted will benefit the Baltimore City and Prince George’s County delegations because most of the prisoners in the state prison system are from the more urban areas of the state.

Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, also expressed concerns. Two areas Edwards represents — Washington and Allegany counties — would be affected.

About 3,000 state prisoners are held in two facilities near Cumberland, a prison spokesman said.

Another 1,503 prisoners are held by the Bureau of Prisons at a federal facility in Cumberland, according to a fiscal note prepared by the Department of Legislative Services that was attached to the bill.

After the 2000 census, the ideal population for a General Assembly district — with a plus or minus 5 percent margin of error — is 112,691. The ideal congressional district size is 662,061.

The state legislative districts are expected to increase to about 120,000 following the 2010 census, and the congressional districts are expected to grow to about 722,425, according to the fiscal note.

Edwards believes the change in population counts — taking 4,000 people out of Allegany County’s population — could push the outlines of his district, District 1, further east into Washington County because Garrett and Allegany counties are not growing, Edwards said.

However, it’s tough to judge what will happen without the numbers, and with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent, things might stay as they are, he said.

It’s unfair, however, because having prison facilities in its midst puts pressure on a community’s public services, Edwards said. (more…)

Feud over counting homeless escalates: Census employee fired after taking worries to Rep. Doggett

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

The following comes from Statesman.com:

By Andrea Ball and Suzannah Gonzales

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett has stepped into a dispute between Travis County officials and U.S. census leaders over how the area’s homeless population will be counted for the 2010 census.

For weeks, the groups have been sparring over the times, methods and manpower needed to tally the area’s estimated 4,000 people living in shelters, camps, cars and hotels. But that conflict escalated this week when a census employee called Doggett to say she had been fired for raising concerns about the safety and accuracy of the count.

On Friday, Doggett called U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves in Washington.

“Director Groves promised me he would investigate both the employee’s firing and review the best practices to accurately count the homeless,” Doggett said in a statement Friday.

Census officials across the country plan to count the homeless on three days: On Monday, workers will tally people in shelters. On Tuesday, they’ll count people at mobile food kitchens. And early Wednesday, they’ll head outside to camps and public places such as bridges and sidewalks.

It’s the Wednesday effort that has caused the most friction locally.

That count is planned for midnight to 7 a.m., a time local homeless advocates deem unsafe for census employees. Critics also say the census is not providing enough people or allowing enough time to ensure an accurate count.

“To count thousands of people over seven hours is unrealistic,” said Travis County Constable Bruce Elfant, a member of the Austin-Travis County Complete Count Committee. “This isn’t like going door to door.”

A faulty count would mean losing out on millions of dollars in federal money.

On Friday, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell sent a letter to a regional census official detailing their concerns about counting the homeless.

“Your own Census staffers estimate that the homeless population could be undercounted by as much as 40%,” the letter states. “This would mean 1,000 or more homeless residents would not be counted in Travis County, resulting in the loss of more than $15,000,000 to our community.”

Jeff Behler, deputy regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau, said the late-night hours were determined “because, in the research that was done by our staff, it was determined that would be the best time in which that population would be the least transient.”

Local leaders proposed holding an additional daytime event Thursday at the Palmer Events Center with food, music and giveaways for those who came to fill out the census forms. Census leaders said no, Elfant said.

“There appears to be very little wiggle room for communities that want to try innovative things,” Elfant said. “It’s been frustrating.”

Homeless advocates also worry that census takers could get hurt wandering into the greenbelts and wooded areas that late at night. David Gomez, who works with the homeless for Austin Travis County Integral Care, said homeless people could be sleeping, drunk, high on drugs or otherwise impaired.

In a memo obtained by the American-Statesman, U.S. Census Bureau employee Lisa Bayliff agreed.

“There are camps that have barbed wire stretched about 3-4 inches from the ground to trip intruders from easy access,” she wrote. “There are camps that are known meth labs; they have signs posted around the perimeter to warn people to go away … The timing of the operation is flawed and is willingly placing all Census employees at peril.”

Census takers, who will be wearing reflective vests and carrying flashlights, have been told not to wake up sleeping people, Behler said. They will travel in groups, try not to startle people and clearly communicate their intent, Behler said.

Earlier this month, Bayliff took her concerns to the Austin congressman, Doggett spokeswoman Sarah Dohl said.

But this week, Bayliff contacted the office to say she had been fired for speaking to Doggett, Dohl said. That prompted Doggett to call Grove.

Bayliff declined to comment. Jenna Steormann Arnold, spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau in Central Texas, said she could not talk about specifics of the case.

“Yes, she no longer works for the Census Bureau, but since it is a personnel issue that deals with confidential information, we cannot discuss it,” she said.

First biracial president? Nope! First black president? Yes!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Though MyTwoCensus would have classified President Obama as biracial, he views himself as “black” and his kids as “black” too. The following confirmation to our inquiries was first reported by the New York Times:

It is official: Barack Obama is the nation’s first black president.

A White House spokesman confirmed that Mr. Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, checked African-American on the 2010 census questionnaire.

The president, who was born in Hawaii and raised there and in Indonesia, had more than a dozen options in responding to Question 9, about race. He chose “Black, African Am., or Negro.” (The anachronistic “Negro” was retained on the 2010 form because the Census Bureau believes that some older blacks still refer to themselves that way.)

Mr. Obama could have checked white, checked both black and white, or checked the last category on the form, “some other race,” which he would then have been asked to identify in writing.

There is no category specifically for mixed race or biracial.

Instructions for the census’s American Community Survey, which poses the question in the same way as the 2010 form, say that “people may choose to provide two or more races either by marking two or more race response boxes, by providing multiple write-in responses, or by some combination of marking boxes and writing in responses.”

In the 2000 census, when Americans first were allowed to check more than one box for race, about 6.8 million people reported being of two or more races.

Census jokes in Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue…

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

‘Census Deadline’

Jimmy Kimmel

Monologue | Tuesday night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC: Thursday is census deadline day. The census would like every resident of the United States to fill out their form and mail it in. If you don’t know how many people live in your house, just count the number of iPods.

And remember, you know, the Census Bureau sends a census taker to any home that doesn’t reply by mail. So unless you want to have a conversation with another human being, you better get that in.

LA Times: Native-born Californians regain majority status

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Solid article on demographic shifts in Cali from the LA Times (Click HERE for complete article):

By Teresa Watanabe and Hector Becerra

California has long been the ultimate melting pot, with the majority of its population coming from outside the state.

Dust Bowl emigres, Asian railroad workers, high-tech entrepreneurs, Mexican laborers and war refugees from around the globe flocked to California. The majority migrant population filled the state’s myriad labor needs, challenged the schools with a cacophony of new languages and roiled its politics with immigration debates.

But, in a dramatic demographic shift, California’s narrative as the nation’s quintessential immigrant state is giving way to a new reality.

For the first time since the 19th century Gold Rush, California-born residents now make up the majority statewide and in most counties, according to a USC study released Wednesday. And experts predict even Los Angeles — long a mecca for new immigrants — will become majority California-born by the time the 2010 census is completed.

“Home-grown Californians are the anchor of our economic future,” said Dowell Myers, a USC urban planning and demography professor who coauthored the study. “But people are living in the past. They still think we are fighting off hordes of migrants.”

The study showed that California’s share of foreign-born residents grew from 15.1% in 1980 to a peak of 27.4% in 2007. This segment is estimated to decline to 26.6% in 2010.

Los Angeles County shows parallel trends, with foreign-born residents growing from 22.1% of the population in 1980 to 36.2% in 2006. That figure is expected to dip to 35% in 2010.

Meanwhile, the native Californian share of the population is projected to increase from 45.5% in 1980 to 54% in 2010 statewide. In Los Angeles, the homegrown share is expected to rise from 40.8% to 49.4% over the same period.

Myers said the recession and stricter immigration enforcement were probably two key factors driving down California’s foreign-born population, as fewer migrants are coming and more are leaving because they can’t find jobs. But even when the economy recovers, he said he expects the trend to continue because the state’s high housing costs and dramatically lower birthrates in Mexico will continue to suppress migration to California.

Press Release: Lockheed Martin Team Prepared for Peak U.S. Census Data Capture Production

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Here’s a press release update from our friends at Lockheed Martin:

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 1, /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —  With the U.S. Census now underway, Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE: LMT) Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) team is receiving up to 12 million census forms daily, processing as many as 2.5 million forms every 24 hours and answering more than 56,000 telephone inquiries per hour during peak production expected between the end of March and April 2010.

The DRIS contract was awarded in September 2005 to the Lockheed Martin team, which includes major partners and a large small business component. The DRIS team is responsible for the people, process, technology and infrastructure needed to receive, capture and standardize data from potentially more than 300 million U.S. residents as well as provide telephone assistance to support data capture efforts.

The Lockheed Martin-lead team hired and trained more than 13,000 temporary personnel, conducted intense testing and dress rehearsals and primed itself for one of the largest and most sophisticated data capture jobs in the country.

“Based on our experience with the 2000 Census, we partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau and the nation’s top companies to develop a solution that embraces information technology and automation to accurately, efficiently, securely and quickly count the nation’s growing and changing population,” said Julie Dunlap, director of Lockheed Martin’s Census Practice and program manager for the 2010 Census DRIS. “During exhaustive planning and testing, the system and associated employees and processes performed flawlessly and fully confirm the team’s readiness,” added Dunlap.

Three data capture centers support this massive effort to process all Census forms within a 6-month period. Centers in Baltimore, Md., managed by CSC, and Phoenix, Ariz. managed by Vangent, Inc., are bigger than four football fields put together. The third center is located at the Census Bureau’s National Processing Center in Jeffersonville, Ind.

In addition, the team established 11 call centers managed by IBM and Vangent across the country to answer respondents’ questions and to follow up to ensure no one is missed. “Between now and August, there will be an estimated 6.6 million inbound and 8.1 million outbound calls to ensure we are obtaining the most accurate data from respondents,” said Dunlap.

The results of the 2010 U.S. Census are due to the President in December 2010 as mandated by U.S. law.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.

Why April Fools Day and Census Day shouldn’t coincide…

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

From the Christian Science Monitor:


April Fools’ jokes for 2010 Census form: What is your race? Vulcan.

In a trend worthy of April Fools’ jokes, Americans are challenging Question 9 of the 2010 Census form: What is your race? Some are self-defining themselves as ‘American’ or ‘NASCAR.’

If this man at a Star Trek convention is tempted to enter his race on the 2010 Census form as ‘Vulcan’ as an April Fools’ joke, the Census bureau might dispatch a case worker to his house to determine if he is telling the truth. Or it could jusy slap him with a $500 fine.

More from TrekMovie.com:

It appears that some people are having some fun with their new US Census forms, including thousands of Trekkies telling the government they not exactly human. However, the government doesn’t think it is very funny and you could end up getting fined (unless you can prove your non-terrestrial ancestry). More details below.

Trekkies being counted

As mandated in the US Constitution, every ten years the government conducts a census to count up everyone in the country. In March tens of millions of Census forms were sent out to every household in the USA. Forms are already coming in, but apparently some people are not taking it seriously, or at least not Question 9 which asks for Race, and allows you to fill one in if it isn’t one of the options on the form. This is from an article in the Christian Science Monitor:

Census workers report literally thousands forms that include, well, creative self-identified races. They include Vulcan and Borg (nods to “Star Trek”), Cylon (for the “Battlestar Galactica” fans), and, yes, NASCAR. (Get it? Race?)

Although that is all pretty funny, apparently it is not legal. Again from the article:

In other cases, census workers will call or even visit to determine if a respondent is, in fact, from the planet Vulcan.

The Census Bureau doesn’t want to get serious. But if worse comes to worse, a recalcitrant Vulcan could face fines of up to $500 for wrongful disclosure.

Obama Completes Census Form But His Answers Are Unclear…Some Transparency Please?

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

According to the Associated Press, the White House did not respond as to how the President filled out the “race” question. This is a complex issue as President Obama is of mixed race, yet his wife and daughters and mother-in-law are likely considered to be African-American. But it’s still a pretty big and important question that the White House SHOULD answer. Let’s hope we get some info here, just so other multi-racial households will have some knowledge and guidance… (I just Tweeted a message over to @PressSec — Robert Gibbs — so hopefully he will respond!)

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Dumb Decision # 7485839: Translation Services Contract Expired August 31, 2009

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Though the mainstream media hasn’t picked up on it, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves acknowledged at the Google Press Conference on March 24 that there have been translation errors during the 2010 Census process (see below transript).

I went so far as to have experts from Cornell and MIT prove that the Burmese translations were wrong. I also filed a FOIA request to find out about the 2010 Census translation contract with Diplomatic Language Services, a firm based in Virginia. Yesterday, the Census Bureau gave me a partial reply to my Freedom of Information Act request. In this document (click here for the full FOIA translation services response), I learned that the Census Bureau’s language translation contract ended on August 31, 2009. Now, this is extremely problematic because this did not leave time for all 2010 Census language issues to be resolved. What this document lacks is one key feature: The price tag for these (sub-par) services. The document makes it clear how much money it costs per word for translations yet in never makes mention of the total amount of money paid to Diplomatic Language Services. t I inquired today with the FOIA officials to determine what this figure is. Stay tuned for updates!

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Why is the Census Bureau pointing at some cities to improve while others are left lagging behind in silence?

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Imagine you’re in first grade and you’re playing soccer for a team. Imagine if you’re one of a handful of kids who isn’t playing as well as the others. Now, imagine that the coach tells a few kids who are playing poorly what they’re doing wrong, but he doesn’t tell you anything. So what do you do? You keep doing what you’re doing, which is lousy. It’s lousy because you will never get better. Well, this is what the Census Bureau has done in recent days by pointing out that some states, cities and towns have poor “participation rates” while letting others linger in the darkness.

Just yesterday, I worried that Connecticut didn’t have enough resources for its Questionnaire Assistance Centers. Today, my fears were confirmed when the Census Bureau called out Connecticut on its low response rates. The Census Bureau sent out a press release with the following:

2010 Census Mail Participation Rates in Parts of Connecticut
Behind Rest of the Nation

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves noted today that some areas are
lagging behind the rest of the country in mailing back their 2010 Census
forms. With Census Day on April 1, parts of Connecticut still have some of
the lowest rates of mail participation. Nationally, 50 percent of
households have mailed back their forms. But in parts of Connecticut, the
participation rate is significantly lower, with Hartford one of the
farthest behind at 32 percent.

“We’re concerned about the relatively low response from parts of
Connecticut,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “Every household
that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a
census taker starting in May — at a significant taxpayer cost. The easiest
and best way to be counted in the census is to fill out and return your
form by mail.”

Why single out Connecticut and Chicago when other states and cities are performing even worse? (Conspiracy theorists may start here when they notice that both of these regions tilt Democratic and it would be an insult to the President if Chicago underperformed…)

On Tuesday, a concerned reader wrote to me (note the following numbers have changed since Tuesday…), “This morning the Bureau issued a press release calling out a number of cities and states concerned with their mailback response.  The Bureau called out Anchorage, AK (41% participation response) and Montgomery, AL (41%) as low performing areas.  They also called out several cities in Florida and Jackson Mississippi which have participation rates in the 30’s.

Why did the Census Bureau single out some areas in press releases and not others?  As of Tuesday’s update, these major cities all had participation rates in the 30% range – Houston, TX 33%, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Dallas each at 37%, Austin, TX 33%, Columbus, OH 35%, and Memphis, TN 31%  — yet weren’t mentioned anywhere.

Why call out some locales and not others? If there is a method to this madness, Dr. Groves, Mr. Jost, Mr. Buckner, and other Census Bureau officials are requested to let us know in the comments section why there is such disparity in the levels of attention given by the Bureau to specific poorly performing areas.

India kicks off world’s biggest head count

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I spent some time in India in December/January of this year, and let me tell you, if you think we’ve got a tough time counting people in America, it’s going to be one hundred times worse in India where people live on the streets, in train stations, and oftentimes change residences frequently. Good luck to our colleagues in India, because they’re going to need it…

From the Associated Press:

By NIRMALA GEORGE (AP) – 1 hour ago

NEW DELHI — India kicked off the national census of its billion-plus population Thursday with a 2.5 million strong army of census-takers fanning out across the country to conduct what has been billed the world’s largest administrative exercise.

The census, conducted every 10 years, has a new element this year with the collection of biometric data in which every citizen over the age of 15 will be photographed and fingerprinted, information that will form the base of a new National Population Register of the country’s 1.2 billion population.

“It is for the first time in human history that an attempt is being made to identify, count, enumerate and record and eventually issue an identity card to 1.2 billion people,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said.

So far, India has not had a system of issuing a national identity number or card to its citizens. The collection of biometric data using a combination of fingerprint and facial identification will be linked with another massive exercise launched last year to ensure that every Indian gets assigned a single identity number.

President Pratibha Patil marked the start of the 11-month exercise Thursday at her pink sandstone presidential palace, which became the first household to be listed for the first phase of the census known as ‘houselisting.’

Over the next six months, census-takers, or ‘enumerators,’ will travel across more than 630,000 villages and over 5,000 cities in the country to visit every structure that serves as a home to put together a national data base. From skyscrapers to tin shanties, census takers will note details such as the availability of drinking water and electricity, and the type of construction material used for a comprehensive picture of housing stock in India.

The census-takers also plan to include millions of homeless people who sleep on railway platforms, under bridges and in parks.

Census-takers are typically government officials, school teachers or other local officials who go home-to-home collecting data on the size of families, marital status, education and work information. For the first time, they also will count bank account holders and cell phone users.

While China, the world’s most populous country, also counts its population, its census is carried out by various agencies, including Communist Party units, commune leaders and factory heads, unlike the New Delhi-based Registrar and Census Commission that carries out India’s count.

India’s census will face a special challenge from left-wing extremists active in 20 of the country’s 28 states who have stepped up a campaign of violent attacks on government officials.

The census-takers plan to finish their work by February 2011. The information will be used for government policymaking, planning and budget allocations.

This will be India’s 15th census being held without interruption at the turn of every decade. Census operations in India were started in 1872 by British colonial rulers.