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.

This post is dedicated to the Census Bureau’s Associate Director of Communications Steve Jost: More pay delays for Western North Carolina census workers

Even though spin doctor Steve Jost, tried to Jost-ify the Census Bureau’s failure to pay its employees properly and on time in the comments section of this blog, this latest report from North Carolina details how Congressman Heath Shuler had to step in to enable emergency checks to be issued to Census Bureau employees — checks that are yet to arrive. Thanks to Julie Ball of the Citizen Times for the following:

ASHEVILLE — Some Western North Carolina census workers are still waiting on emergency checks after payroll problems caused some workers to get no or only partial pay this week.

Karla Gay, local census office manager for the city office, said those workers should have the emergency pay by next week, but she could not say for sure when.

“I know that there are people who are living paycheck to paycheck, and it’s very important. I want them to know we are doing everything we can,” Gay said Friday.

Workers who didn’t request emergency pay won’t get caught up on their pay until Wednesday, according to Gay.

“At this point, what we are telling folks really is to sit tight … people will be paid on Wednesday,” said Tony Jones, with media relations for the Charlotte Regional Census Center.

U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler sent a letter Friday to U.S. Census officials urging them to resolve the problem.

Gay said between 5 and 8 percent of 1,100 workers who are doing census work in 11 WNC counties had pay problems, getting either no pay or partial pay Wednesday. She could not say how many of them requested emergency pay.

Of five states covered by the Charlotte regional office — North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia — the pay problem only occurred in the Asheville and Charlotte offices, according to Jones.

Jones didn’t have an exact count, but said between 1 and 4 percent of the 1,300 workers in Charlotte either didn’t get paid or got only a partial payment.

Census officials have attributed the pay problem to incomplete or unsigned pay sheets and problems with bank account numbers submitted by workers. But at least one worker has said there were no problems with her paperwork.

“We also had challenges here in the office with getting the volume of work in because it came in late,” Gay said.

Unlike the 2000 Census when workers submitted weekly pay sheets, census workers must fill out and sign a pay sheet every day they work. Each individual sheet must then be audited.

Jones said there are people working “24-seven” on nothing but payroll.

Some WNC workers who didn’t get paid have contacted Shuler’s office and U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s office to complain about the problem.

Stephanie Allen, spokeswoman for Hagan, said the office is turning the information over to U.S. Census officials.

Julie Fishman, communications director for Shuler, said if census workers are having trouble with their pay, they can call Shuler’s office at 252-1651 and leave their name and the city/town they are working in.

Shuler’s office is compiling the information and will send it directly to Charlotte.

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49 Responses to “This post is dedicated to the Census Bureau’s Associate Director of Communications Steve Jost: More pay delays for Western North Carolina census workers”

  1. LCO-AM Says:

    I do not think the pay delay’s are the fault of DALT, but more of the process.

    There are serious logistical challenges that are mandated by the DAILY timesheets from the enumerators. If these were completed and compiled weekly, potentially the issue would not be there.

    Right now, the enumerators have to complete the D308 daily, and return in to the Crew Leader Assistant. The Crew leader Assistant (or Crew Leader) must then add this information to a D308C to track and monitor every hour worked, to assure no one goes into overtime.

    Then, these must be returned to the LCO and them to Admin for processing.

    Theoretically, there could be more than a thousand per day to be processed, per LCO, and if there is a lag anywhere in the chain, there will be a failure.

    It is obvious the people who thought out this process, as well as others, have no practical experience at all.

    None.

    Rube Goldberg would be proud.

  2. LCO-AM Says:

    Actually, I think the census put all their eggs into the handheld handbasket, and when it failed, they rushed to find a solution.

    Heads need to roll, but alas, the spin machine will cover it all up – at the expense of far too many innocent people.

  3. JAG Says:

    SRM,

    You initially reported thousands of people not paid and now your referencing an article reporting 5-8% of 1100 workers? Where are the thousands not paid? Why weren’t they paid? Does your number include those not paid because of their own mistakes? How many of the thousands were not paid due to census errors?

  4. ET Says:

    I agree with JAG. Citation needed.

  5. anon Says:

    i work in metro boston-although we have been getting paid the daily time sheets are the most inefficient things ever. It results in them paying us more because of travel time. I have been paid more for time on public transit than I have been paid for doing actual census work.

  6. ACL Dave Says:

    “Karla Gay, local census office manager for the city office, said those workers should have the emergency pay by next week, but she could not say for sure when.”

    I’m guessing Wednesday. :-(

  7. PM Says:

    Thanks to the shift to this antedeluvian paper grinder setup- then having to enter it into the online system (D-308>CL>LCO audit>LCO entry to DAPPS), we’ve introduced yet more links to break (sort of like the fingerprinting ordeal). On one hand, it’s nice that we have so many checks and balances- on the other, each one can introduce its own glitches. In auditing the forms, we check for filling of fields and arithmetical errors, correcting the time into a parallel column (the scary “office use only” one, if you haven’t had yours returned with corrections yet) if it’s awry in the first one (as figured by the employee). I’ve had mine audited and fixed by someone who apparently didn’t read the instructions on the back of the form, introducing its own glitch…

    So, while auditing you get a form that has a few extra hours due to adding it wrong, and this offset creates/increases an OT claim…. no big deal, if you’re the boss at the hardware store, but here, you whack the time down to reality [but now, with 4 fields to enter (or 1 if you think you've been learning anything that day- but that's another task code requiring another sheet... oh, heck, how about another project yu worked n the same day- so there's another task code- on yet another sheet)- you have slightly better chances than the lottery to get it right]- and more fun: correcting this down to reality can also take the claim from OT>Regular- but you have no way to know unless you get over to the computer and add it all up with the other days for the week. I’ve had to run down the stack of 308s, and get into DAPPS, to adjust the time to overall correctness for the employee that week- again, not an issue if it’s Bob who opens the store and makes the coffee and you see him every day- but with over 1k folks out there someplace and just a sheet of paper saying whatever, factoring in the glitch quotient, you’ve gone from a minute a sheet to however long it takes in each case. With nearly 10k sheets/week in the office, you’re seeing the snowball compound exponentially.

    OK- now you get a directive about Night Differential… then one the next day fixing that one, then one the next day clarifying THAT one- and now you have people getting the extra 10%, then OT, then whatever the grand prize is with ND/OT- and about 4 people along the way having to spend time figuring it out as well as you- plus the DAPPSWOPR to crunch it into a paycheck and that extra letter you get every week in the mail…

    It’s really quite simple.

    As was mentioned elsewhere, a concept of shifting only field work to paper, but cleaning out the HHC for just payroll- perhaps with a weekly sheet from the enumerators, so you have something like the 308C>CL>HHC entry while sitting at the cafe>Big Black Box somewhere that adds it all up for you….

    might have made too much sense. Why, we have our own version of Das Boot with that overnight office crew pouring all this into DAPPS, auditing, correcting… waiting for a break in the moonlight to get into PBOCS…

  8. ACL Dave Says:

    JAG – That “5-8% of 1100 workers” figure came from an LCOM. You trust it? I don’t. They screwed up pay for 100% of workers in our crew.

  9. CensusCL Says:

    Census enumerators and Crew Leaders are missing pay in the Newport News, Virginia LCO as well. An entire district’s 308′s were not entered into payroll and employees expecting to get paid for an entire week of work only got paid for 2 ad in some instances 1 day. The Payroll hotline out of Charlotte is worthless and they won’t answer the phone or return calls.

  10. LCO-AM Says:

    I heard today of at least one new clerical person that has not been paid.

    Based on the sheer number of people hired, the percentage is probably not that great.

    Late breaking news: Friday May 14th: LCO’s given notice to improve the performance of the NRFU response – not having PBOCS is not an excuse to be lagging behind in checking in the questionnaires and all LCO’s are expected to be running ahead of goal.

    Seriously

  11. JAG Says:

    ACL Dave,

    MTC reported thousands but doesn’t provide proof of thousands. I’m not saying the LCOM is correct, but I see no evidence of thousands identified through MTC investigation either.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    No direct deposit made by today. My crew will finish NRFU by Wednesday, May 19. LCO has printed and distribute all binders.

  13. BB Says:

    It is EASILY thousands of people not properly paid. We have over 150 in our LCO alone.

    “# JAG Says:
    May 15th, 2010 at 10:51 am
    You initially reported thousands of people not paid and now your referencing an article reporting 5-8% of 1100 workers? Where are the thousands not paid? Why weren’t they paid? Does your number include those not paid because of their own mistakes? How many of the thousands were not paid due to census errors?”
    \
    “# ET ET Says:
    May 15th, 2010 at 10:58 am
    I agree with JAG. Citation needed.”

    LOL “ET” and “JAG” must be lower management idiots. EXTRAPOLATE the numbers there are over 100,000 temps.

  14. Geewhiznrfudude Says:

    Last count I heard from Asheville was in excess of 500 of around 1200 were either not paid at all or paid for only a fraction of what was due. LCO only reported complaints that made it past the unanswered or disconnected phones. My CLD was 100% not/underpaid. In our case the breakdown was 4 paid noting, 2 paid 1 day, 3 paid 2 days and we are unable to determine what the others were actually paid for but in no case was an employee paid what they were due. In my FOS’s territory I understand it was nearly 100% not/underpaid.
    We have copies of all 308′s and transmittal forms in our unit. CL and CLA’s audited them Thursday to make sure they were done correctly. We did find one day checked Wed instead of Thursday. Our error rate was 1 in 288 we reviewed. Friday we were told we did not have to fill out the transmittal forms because it took too long for the courier to sign them and would be more efficient. We will continue to do so for our own records.
    Fallout today. One enumerator resigned because unable to afford to continue. Another was unable to work today because of lack of gas. This makes 3 days of work missed for this employee. We were able to advance $20 to each employee from the pockets of CL and CLA. Our FOS (great guy and good manager) took $1000 out of savings and made available to other CL for their crews who needed it. Our FOS NEVER criticizes the LCO and never allows CL’s and crews to get out of hand when they vent but He is really mad and I am sure he is making himself heard up the chain of command. How lucky I was to land with such a great and talented bunch of folks. BTW I heard he was only paid for 2 days last week, but then you know those FOS’s do not understand the 308 and make all kinds of mistakes. LOL
    JAG, I hope this helps you understand the scope of this problem. I think that things are going to get better in the future. If the Managers had said OMG this is awful. We have to fix it right away; all this mess could have been avoided. Instead they took the phones off the hook and disconnected other numbers and lied to everyone to cover their own rear ends. They would rather see their employees go hungry than admit the screw-up.
    The good news is that some more management types are on the ground here and seem to be genuinely concerned with fixing stuff.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Our entire crew of 18 was not paid.

  16. JAG Says:

    So BB, I’m a lower management idiot because I asked for more details of MTC’s investigation?

  17. ET Says:

    and I’m an idiot for agreeing?

  18. BB Says:

    You are idiots for not thinking 5 to 8% of 600,000 isn’t thousands!

    It isn’t “MTC’s investigation” it is widespread reports from news outlets and census workers.

    Why don’t stop trolling and you post up some certified verifiable information that even half the workers were paid the proper amounts on time?

    We know most of the lower management hacks got paid on time because they are typically the least qualified in any of the offices and cant add one and one but know one thing, how to get their own 308 audited and in.

    Again, geniuses, what is 5 to 8% of 575k? LOL

  19. Satorist Says:

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I sure feel bad for these folks who
    must have quit really well paying jobs to take jobs as temporary census
    workers. I guess they must have quit their jobs because the census pays
    every week, and hardly any other employer does.

    So if you quit a well paying job to take another so you’ll get paid sooner,
    I can sure understand this anger over your first paycheck not being
    perfect. And all these folks must have had prior jobs that have better
    payroll departments then the jobs I’ve had. I can’t remember a job where
    there wasn’t some problem with my first check.

    What’s also a little disappointing is that census doesn’t seem to be hiring
    any previously unemployed people. Given that almost all of these folks are
    claiming that their financial world is going to end because they will have
    to wait an additional five days for their first, full paycheck, they must
    have been employed just before taking the census job, right? Right?

    I mean, somebody unemployed wouldn’t be hating on the person who gave them
    a job, would they? Would they? Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I’d
    rather have a job and wait five days to get paid then to not have a job and
    never get paid.

    If I’ve read this stuff correctly, it sounds like the census has about 500
    offices across the country, and they essentially put about half-million
    people to work in one week. So, if in doing the clerical payroll work, each
    one of those offices made 10 errors, that would be 5,000 people whose first
    check was affected.

    And in real life it wouldn’t be 10 errors per office. Some offices would
    screw up more, and some not at all. So it would be more obvious some places
    than others.

    Isn’t 5,000 one percent of 500,000? And, if so, doesn’t that mean census
    got it 99 percent right? Maybe we could compare that to some other
    employer but, gee wiz, there are no other employers who ever hire, train,
    and deploy half-million employees in one week.

    So maybe you very angry folks should dump this shabby little census gig and
    see if your previous cushy job is still open.

  20. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Satorist, you make some valid points about numbers. However, as you stated, some people who were previously unemployed have come to rely on these jobs to purchase life’s necessities, like food! But point taken.

  21. JAG Says:

    You’re the idiot BB for believing everything somebody claims without asking for details. The facts are that on 5/13, MTC posts on this website that their investigation finds thousands of people were not paid. On 5/15, the Ashville article was published. According to your theory, MTC had knowledge of the 5/15 article when they made their 5/13 post. Common sense, which you obviously lack, would suggest that was not the case so I and asked about the investigation that MTC claims it conducted.

    The Ashville article also references a specific office when it said “5 and 8 percent of 1,100 workers” weren’t paid. They never said “5 to 8% of 575k” as you suggest. Your assumption that if it applies in one office it applies in all is unsupported.

    If in your twisted logic, I’m an idiot for asking details about the MTC investigation makes me an idiot, I’d suggest you take the aluminum foil hat off your head and ask somebody you know that has common sense to explain it to you.

    You might also note that despite my calls for details of the MTC investigation, they have not provided ANY response or details about their investigation despite reading and posting in this thread.

  22. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    JAG – While I would like to have more information for you, do you really think the Census Bureau has responded to my e-mails and calls about this issue? Answer: They haven’t. I’m sure they are already trying to cover their asses before someone in Congress makes an official inquiry…

  23. ACL Dave Says:

    Inspector General: Accuracy of Census Still at Risk Because of Computer Problems
    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/65608

  24. LCOM Says:

    Worked as a crew leader in address canvassing never had a problem with 308′s payroll. now office manager for field, they should of used the HHC’s again! No paperwork required. Now we are pushing our FOS’s to have payroll in by Sunday a logisical nightmare every week. Hell I work in the office and still didnt get paid for all of my hours.

  25. mandy_Reeves Says:

    My LCO is making us write our accumulated hours on the notes section of the 308. I guess it’s to make their jobs easier. Happened right after all the no pay late pay brouhaha

  26. mandy_Reeves Says:

    Also, to the one above poster, I was unemployed before the census. So, while grateful to be employed, I need to be paid on time like anyone who works. I have to pay part of my gall bladder surgery that I go in for on Thursday, money for the scripts of pain meds, rent, laundry, gas etc….

  27. JAG Says:

    Stephen,

    Because the Census Bureau hasn’t responded to you, there must be “hundreds of thousands people who are victims of this lax payment plan?”

    I really doubted you investigated and had any proof of thousands. Thanks for confirming that!

  28. JAG sounds like.. Says:

    …the person this posting is dedicated to…LOL!

  29. mandy_Reeves Says:

    on the verge of eviction since my pay was delayed…and to top it off land lord heard rumor that we get paid 20/hour which is bull. Try 14.00/hr. he listens to too much Fox News

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Mandy Reeves, my prayers are with you.

    I am surprised when co-workers state they are “working at the Census for fun”. Many people, including me, work because we need the paycheck for rent, utilities, groceries, car payments, children expenses, ….

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Who wants to work for the next operation (following NRFU)?

  32. anonnrfu Says:

    I wonder what he ate this weekend?
    Do you think he really believes this? It will be interesting to see how congress and the press respond to being lied to.

    NEWPORT NEWS —

    U.S. Census workers in the region have had problems receiving their full pay, but the official in charge of the local area said Friday the problem has been fixed.

    Some workers in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck did not receive a full week’s pay for their first week. According to the Charlotte Observer, some workers in North Carolina and South Carolina did not receive their first paychecks Wednesday as scheduled.

    Charlotte is the regional headquarters for U.S. Census operations that include Virginia. The Peninsula and Middle Peninsula areas are being served by a local U.S. Census office in Newport News.

    Census workers are currently going door-to-door to gather information on residences that didn’t send back questionnaires by mail. The local operation is expected to continue until mid-July.

    Problems with pay are being caused by mistakes made on daily timesheets that workers are required to fill out, said Rob Riedmiller, who is the director in charge of the Newport News Census office.

    “We did have an issue up north in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck,” Riedmiller said. “A supervisor held onto several of them a little too long. That situation has been rectified.”

    The local office is processing about 1,000 time sheets daily, he added.

  33. ET Says:

    I’m still with JAG…SRM, please confirm how you got to thousands.

  34. anonymiss Says:

    I would consider working the next leg of Census Operations unless I thought it was more dangerous than NRFU. I would welcome the income. I would love to do data entry even though it sounds like the entry part is spotty. Or in the field….what ever. I hope the income will be there and help my family keep the bills paid….fingers crossed.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    For a second time, my entire crew of 18 enumerators were not paid. I thought I was the only one.

  36. mandy_Reeves Says:

    I would work the next phase, but with college again in September, and having to retake all my spring classes and more so i graduate on time, it doesn’t seem possible.

  37. CLA Dave Says:

    Is there any census worker here who’s crew all got a full paycheck?
    Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? :)

  38. BB Says:

    “JAG” You are fool and I hope you don’t work for the census, since the Census spokesperson said 5 to 8% were not paid properly and electroplating at nearly 600,000 workers gives a number of tends of thousands, so thousands is far from an exaggeration.

    There is ZERO evidence that those local LCO are out of tho ordinary.

    In my LCO, which has over 1000 workers, easily 100 have not been properly paid.

    That is 100 in a SINGLE LCO.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    No, every crew in our LCO had paycheck shortages.

    Our crew was supposed to end NRFU this Wednesday. Suddenly, binders popped up out of nowhere.

  40. JAG Says:

    BB,

    There is ZERO evidence that it is happening in every LCO. However, for the sake of discussion, let’s use your number of 100 per office and assume every office is effected. 100 people X 500 LCOs equals 50,000 people. The MTC articles claims hundreds of thousands of people are victims. Where are the numbers? Where are all these victims?

    I would hope you would agree that an investigation that found hundreds of thousands of victims would be pretty damaging to the Census and might appear on television or newspapers across the country and might actually get MTC national media exposure.

    MTC hasn’t provided any details of their investigation. It would be common sense to say they can’t point to this discussion thread as proof as it was posted 2 days after the ‘payroll gate’ post.

    MTCs response to my request for more information is that the Census has not responded to their request. Doesn’t sound like much f an investigation to me.

  41. ET Says:

    JAG +1 (again)

    yellow journalism n. Journalism that exploits, distorts, or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers

  42. CLA Dave Says:

    An enumerator called payroll at our RCC and learned tomorrow’ paychecks will be short again.

  43. jf Says:

    Guess I’m 1-4% of the 1400 – Got a funny feeling the numbers are much bigger than stated. All of my co-enumerators were paid $0- The CLA $0- and the CL was short on his check – hmmmmmmmmmmmm

  44. js Says:

    I am from Washington State and many enumerators, CL’s, and CLA’S did not get paid! I got paid for one day. Called Payroll got many excuses, house payment due or bank is foreclosing on my home.
    Payroll instructed me to come up to there ofc on the following Monday to pick up a “percentage” of my check coming on 5/19. (2 days pay instead of 5)The whole payroll situation was not of any fault of mine. Now I’m told by CL and her Supervisor that I can’t claim the time or mileage it took to pick the check up! BS!!! Just don’t understand how with ten years to get prepared for the 2010 Census there could be so much confusion and problems with the Census payroll all over the U.S.!!! Unbelievable!

  45. Anonymous Says:

    Paycheck OK and received. Binders were not for our crew – NO BINDERS. CL and CLA did not have blank EQ forms, NV pads, Info-Comm sheets, D308 forms, blank continuation forms, etc. …. ????

  46. anonnrfu Says:

    Dear Steve Jost, ET and Jag. I suspect that you are either the same person or work together so I am addressing it to all of you. You challenged Morse to validate his “thousands” comment. Here is some support:
    “Getting paid still an issue for Census employees. Not only are many mountain Census workers not getting paid correctly around 14,500 workers across the country have likely experienced pay problems. News-13 learned that after obtaining an email from the US Department of Commerce to Rep. Heath Shuler’s office. It also says the Dept. of Commerce was told by the census this isn’t a system issue and that some employees don’t understand the procedures. Some crew leaders thought they were supposed to save up the time sheets until the end of the week. They are actually supposed to submit those time sheets daily. All of this came to light when Shuler asked for an investigation by Inspector General’s Office at the Department of Commerce. One worker we spoke with says she likes her job but just wants to get paid so she can buy tires, eye glasses and go to the dentist. The Census Bureau told Shuler’s office it would continue to administer emergency checks.

    Congressman Shuler’s representative dropped by where we hang out as well as other locations. What do you think is going to happen when the congressional hearings take place and they subpoena IP addresses from MTC for the disinformation campaign you are waging? We are not stupid and this is all coming out.

    How do you sleep at night defending this mess when census employees have gone hungry this week because of screw ups at the LCO and RCC level?

    Seriously, how can you do this?

    I really want to know.

    BTW , I am sure it will come out to much more than the 14.5 K being admitted to. Payroll was wrong again yesterday by 2 days pay. I am sure that if someone got a check at all it was counted as “paid”.

    Blaming the employees for not being able to fill out a time sheet is funny. If they can not do a time sheet how can they possibly be trusted to gather all that PII and report it properly? LOL.

  47. anon Says:

    Some CL and CLA are dishonest and not turning in D308 forms, completed EQ/Info-Comms, completed binders. Some CL and their CLA drink on the job and are very disorganized.

  48. JAG Says:

    anonnrfu, I sleep at night just fine! You are completely misinterpreting everything I’ve said. I’ve never, ever defended not paying people who are working. There’s no question that it’s sad these people are working and not getting paid. All I’m saying is let’s be realistic about the number of cases. When the article in this post said that 5-8% of 1100 workers, people were saying that was thousands because it’s 5-8% of every office. But that’s not what the article said.

    MTC claimed to have conducted their own investigation and states there are hundreds of thousands of victims so I asked for information about their investigation. The lack of information about that investigation leads me to believe it was fabricated data. I’d rather based my opinions on facts not wild @ss guesses……even though relying on data from the media is heresay.

    The number I’d like to see is the actual number of workers who weren’t paid due to Census Bureau errors or payroll processing problems. If people can’t fill out their own time sheets or submit correct bank routing numbers, that shouldn’t be blamed on the census….in my opinion.

    At the current rate, I think the number of people not paid by the Census will exceed the number of employees in about 7 days….lol

  49. anonnrfu Says:

    Jag,

    USCB admits to 14,500 employees not being paid. How many were underpaid? I doubt they know. In the Asheville LCO area it was virtually 100% last pay period.