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 May, 2010

Former Census Bureau statistician denounces Census Bureau Director’s words as misleading to the public

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves keeps a blog on the Census Bureau’s web site. Adeline J. Wilcox, a former Census Bureau employee has informed MyTwoCensus of misleading statements on Dr. Groves’ May 14, 2010 post about data collection. Ms. Wilcox states the following about this post headed “Computer-Assisted Data Collection”:

The survey methodology term “Computer-Assisted Data Collection”describes the use of laptops or mobile devices to collect data from survey respondents. It also describes self-administered online surveys and telephone surveys in which the telephone interviewer reads the script from a computer monitor and enters the responses into the computer. “Computer-Assisted Data Collection” means NO PAPER.

The 2010 Census is not using “Computer-Assisted Data Collection” for NonResponse FollowUp (NRFU).  The 2010 Census NRFU operation is paper-based.

Groves wrote:

“Several times in my career, I have experienced first-uses of complicated survey data collection systems. The first use is rarely a pretty affair, mainly because of the difficulty of designing testing regimens reflecting all the combinations of steps that occur in real production with thousands of diverse users.”

This is at best misleading.  His statement is relevant to “Computer-Assisted Data Collection” but has no relevance to the troubled 2010 Census paper-based NRFU operation and the Paper Based Operations Control System known as PBOCS.

Ongoing issues about how the Census Bureau counts prisoners: Reform in Illinois?

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Perhaps lawmakers in Illinois are now fearing the redistricting process for 2012. Here’s the latest news from Prisoners of the Census, a Census Bureau reform group that MyTwoCensus supports.

Census worker takes a stand

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

You’ve heard about Census workers running into trouble on the job – shotgun trouble, perhaps – but it’s refreshing to hear news about someone who realized he has the law on his side. From southern New Jersey’s Courier-Post:

A 2010 Census worker is pressing charges against a Mount Laurel resident after the apparently irate resident smashed the worker’s cell phone, police said.

The census worker filed a complaint at the township police department after a May 15 confrontation with occupants at a home in the 4500 block of Fenwick Lane, police said.

The census worker told police that a resident at the home refused to answer survey questions. The resident’s son then confronted the census worker, grabbed her cell phone and smashed it on the ground.

Police are investigating the matter.

MyTwoCensus Investigaton: Are Census Bureau enumerators attempting to go to each residence more than three times (the maximum number of visits as stated by law)?

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus has learned from a Census Bureau official who has requested anonymity that in urban areas, because the travel time between units is negligible, Census Bureau officials have been visiting units up to six times. Large municipalities, particularly those with low participation rates thus far, are fearful of undercounts, so they welcome these measures.

MyTwoCensus has learned from the blogosphere and from anonymous tips (a new feature on our updated contact page) that Census Bureau employees, who are permitted a maximum of three personal visits and three phone calls to each residence that has not returned their 2010 Census forms, have actually visited residences upwards of six times. (We blame Census Bureau officials, not the enumerators!) Yes, these are your tax dollars at work. Here’s the law, as taken from the Census Bureau’s web page:

We have perused the blogosphere to discover that a Census Bureau employee in Chicago has reported the following problems on her blog:

Shifting Census Rules: Six Visits Becomes 36 Points of Contact. Or: WTF?

We learned in training–over and over and over again–that we’re allowed three personal visits and three phone calls. I’ve blogged about this before, because about a week ago, when we started turning in forms with three personal visits and no actual contact, they changed the rules. That’s when we were told six personal visits, despite what had been burned into our brains in training.

Well guess what’s happening now?

Enough time has lapsed that those six visit EQs are coming back and a few of them still haven’t been able to find a proxy or a respondent. In most cases, in my district, they’re in locked buildings with no access to any kind of entry, and no neighbors. My enumerators have tried calling Realtors listed on the signs but they won’t call back. We’re all assuming that the buildings are vacant, but the LCO doesn’t like that.

So now they’ve said that for every single visit our enumerators should be knocking on the doors of six neighbors. By the time they’re done they should have 36 point of contact. THIRTY SIX POINTS OF CONTACT. A close-out, they stressed to us, is very, very, very rare.

Now, let’s set aside the fact that this is stalking, it’s creepy and it’s absolutely and completely ridiculous.The thing that gets me is that, of all rules they can change, I don’t think they should be screwing with the manuals.

How many times were we told to stick to the script? That these had been tested, researched, shot into outer space, all that crap, and that they KNOW that this works the best way. With three personal visits and three calls I can see their point. Much more than that is going to be the law of diminishing returns.

Not that you can reason with these people.

Are these type of shenanigans happening in other areas as well? Please leave your comments below to alert the public and the government officials who read this site where and when similar activities are taking place.

RNC continues deceptive mailers because Obama hasn’t picked up his pen yet…

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

As usual, the Republicans and the Democrats have both made serious errors. 1. The Republicans think they are above the law and continue to send out deceptive mailers. 2. President Obama has not picked up his pen to sign a recently changed bi-partisan supported bill into law. Come on Barack, pick up the pen already! Thanks to Ryan Knutson of Pro Publica for continuing to keep this matter alive, even though it should have been forgotten by now:

The latest legislation [1] intended to stop deceptive “census” mailers [2] passed both chambers of Congress [3] earlier this month, but President Barack Obama still hasn’t signed it into law, and the Republican National Committee is still sending out mailers that the legislation is meant to stop.

Our inboxes continue to receive a deluge of e-mails from people across the country who are still getting fundraisers from the RNC [2] labeled  “Census Document,” a tactic that we’ve been following since February [4]. In an attempt to stop the practice, Congress passed a bill in March [5] requiring that any mailer with the word “census” on the envelope must also include a clearly labeled return address to prevent confusion about whether it’s really from the 2010 Census.

But the RNC got around [1] that requirement by moving the word “census” to a document inside the envelope — yet it was still visible from the outside through the envelope’s clear plastic window.

That move irritated even Republicans. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., proposed legislation [6] to close the loophole. “I would say to people who raise money, whether it’s the Republican National Committee or the Democratic National Committee or [anybody else], don’t use the Census,” he said at the time. “Because it’s wrong.”

The bill passed the House in April, and it breezed through [3] the Senate unanimously on May 5. But without Obama’s signature, it’s still not the law — thus the RNC mailers continue.

Some tips for identifying a Census worker

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Concerns about identifying Census enumerators aren’t new on MyTwoCensus, and we’ve even posted news of a tragic incident that might have been prevented if certain information had been more widespread. Fortunately, the Daily River Front Times had a Q&A session with the Census Bureau on just that subject:

1.Q. How to identify an official Census taker?

1.A. An official Census taker will have an official ID badge with their name, expiration date and the U.S. Department of Commerce logo on it. They will have a “Your Answers Are Confidential Information Sheet” (Form D-1 (F); may be carrying a black canvass bag with the U.S. Department of Commerce logo; and they will provide their supervisor’s contact information or the number to the Local Census Office for verification, if asked. Census takers will also have a Language ID Flashcard with 35 languages.

2. Q. Will a census taker ask to come inside someone’s home?

2. A. No.

3.Q. Will a Census taker ask for my Social Security number or bank information?

3.A. No, a Census taker will not ask for Social Security numbers or for bank information.

4.Q. If a resident sent in their Census questionnaire, can they still receive a visit from a Census taker or a phone call from the U.S. Census Bureau?

4.A. Yes, if a resident’s questionnaire was received by the Census Bureau after the deadline for Complete Count Door-to-Door Follow Up, they will likely be visited by a Census taker during Door-to-Door Enumeration. The Census Bureau also conducts quality control as a part of the 2010 Census so a resident could be contacted during quality control operations. The Census Bureau asks for the public’s cooperation during these operations.

5.Q. What does a Census taker do if there is no one at home?

5.A. A Census taker will leave a Notice of Visit (Form D-26), with their name and phone number or the phone number to the Local Census Office. This way the resident can contact the census taker or the Local Census Office to arrange a convenient time to be interviewed.

6.Q. How many times will a Census taker visit a house?

6.A. A Census taker will make at least three visits at different times of the day in an effort to interview a resident of the home.

7.Q. What does a Census taker do if he or she cannot speak to someone at the home after several attempts?

7.A. A Census taker will try to locate a person with knowledge about the house and its occupants such as a neighbor, a landlord or a property manager in order to get as much information as possible to complete the Census questionnaire.

Introducing Victor Gamez…

Monday, May 17th, 2010

To the readers of this blog:

Victor Gamez, a student at the University of Pennsylvania and editor/writer/blogger for various publications, will be assisting with the editorial content of MyTwoCensus throughout the summer. Stay tuned for his posts, and be sure to go easy on him in the comments section during his first few days :)

Feel free to e-mail him: gamez [at] mytwocensus.com

- SRM

Is speaking English a requirement to become a 2010 Census employee? Apparently not.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The following report comes from San Antonio. Has anyone else experienced a 2010 Census worker who doesn’t speak English or is this an isolated case?

By Steve Lindscomb

SAN ANTONIO-Census workers are knocking on doors to get unanswered forms, but what would you do if that worker couldn’t speak your language? That’s what happened to one woman recently. When we first asked the Census Bureau about this incident that a viewer wrote us about, they found it hard to believe, but when we told them we ran into the very worker ourselves, and he really could not speak english, they had some questions to answer.

Sylvia Turner told us she was shocked. The census worker she talked to was very nice and courteous, but could not hardly put two or three english words together. “I tried, I stood there, I tried to be very patient and he could not speak one work clearly.”

She said she was surprised because she thought every census worker was tested for fluency in at least english. She didn’t want to get the worker in trouble, but somehow, the system broke down.

Her question was “are they speaking to these individuals or are they just taking applications.”

When we cruised around this north side neighborhood we happened to run into a census worker. And wouldn’t you know it…it had to be the same guy, because after talking to him for ten minutes, neither one of us knew what the other was trying to say. We didn’t want to embarrass him so we aren’t identifying him, but we did ask the census bureau if workers are tested and screened to communicate with the public.

A spokesperson would only read a statement to me over the phone. “While enumerators can take the skills test in Spanish, they must also then pass an English proficiency test. Enumerator training is conducted in English and, afterward, workers are observed and evaluated for English proficiency and their ability to conduct the survey. ”

The Census Bureau did tell us that if you run into a similar language problem, the worker has a form where you can indicate in which language you can answer questions. Another worker fluent in that language should come back to your house the next day.

Language problems with the 2010 Census may lead to changes in reapportionment

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The following article from the Bellingham Herald is very well written and paints a vivid picture of the problems I have discussed about poor translation services and more:

By DANIEL C. VOCK – Stateline.org

WASHINGTON Upstate New York took in nearly 3,200 refugees during one recent year. That was nearly seven times as many as New York City did. The refugees, more than half of whom came from Myanmar, often need medical care and other social services, but the region does not have the same informational resources – such as translators and English-language classes – as New York City. To help them get those services, upstate hospital officials and other advocates want them recorded in the 2010 census and have helped spread the word to refugees.

It’s not an easy job, but it’s a potentially important one. The refugees from Myanmar who live in the county that includes Rochester, N.Y., speak six different dialects, making the task of finding a translator who understands medical terms even more difficult. When refugees do visit a doctor or the hospital in the Rochester General Medical Group, says Jim Sutton, who heads the group’s office of community medicine, their appointments last longer because of the language barrier and complications related to the fact that refugees often went years without any health care.

An accurate population count could highlight that need to government officials, Sutton says. “Politicians want to represent their constituencies. We have 8,000 refugees in our area. … If a representative saw that much of their population was voting members of their particular area, their ears may perk up a little bit when something comes before them regarding language.”

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This is the kind of small but ultimately significant problem state and local officials are wrestling with all over the country.

Minnesota state demographer Tom Gillaspy knows how important the census count is for his state. He’s done the math himself. The once-a-decade tally is used for many things, but one of the most important is deciding how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House. According to Gillaspy’s latest projections, Minnesota could lose a seat by fewer than 1,000 people.

“It doesn’t get much closer than that,” muses Gillaspy, now involved in his fourth census for Minnesota. Miss just two college dorms – say, by counting them in June instead of April – and there goes the state’s eighth congressional seat.

“It is a huge operation to do a census. It is just an enormous, enormous thing. I don’t think people appreciate the precision which is required,” Gillaspy says. “It’s really at the core of everything that’s done in government and, to a large extent, in the private sector for an entire decade. So it better get done right.”

To the surprise of many, quite a few things are going pretty well this time. Across the country, 72 percent of residents have mailed in their census forms already. That’s roughly the same percentage that turned in their forms in 2000, which ended a three-decade slide in participation. That’s a good sign, according to experts, because the mail-in participation rate is a good indicator of how accurate the final count will be.

Experts credit several changes over the past decade for making it easier to educate residents about the census.

Perhaps most striking is the publicity blitz that promoted the mail-in portion of the census and continues now that 635,000 workers are going door-to-door to check with people who didn’t return their forms. The first big splash in the campaign was a much-maligned Super Bowl ad, but it was only the beginning. By the time the campaign is over, the U.S. Census Bureau plans to spend a record $133 million on advertising in 28 languages.

Behind the scenes, the federal government placed a greater emphasis on partnering with local organizations to get the message out. State and local governments have used a similar approach. Stacey Cumberbach, the head of New York City’s 2010 census office, says working with trusted leaders in different communities and across city government has helped the city boost its mail-in rates from 57 percent a decade ago to 60 percent this year.

Working with the city’s agency for public and subsidized housing helped get the message to one out of 12 New Yorkers, she says. Immigrants make up more than one-third of the city’s population, but that population in itself is very diverse. That’s why, Cumberbach says, it was so important for the city to rely on community leaders to promote the census.

In Minnesota, Gillaspy took advantage of a few other opportunities offered for the first time by the Census Bureau. In February, the state compared the numbers of addresses it had on its list for every block against the census’ count. Where there were big differences, the state asked the Census Bureau to double check its list of addresses.

Later this summer, Minnesota officials plan to compare state data for the capacity of group quarters – including prisons, nursing homes, halfway homes and dormitories – against the population count the census came up with in those facilities. If there’s a large difference, the Census Bureau will go back to recount the population there.

“It’s up to each individual state to volunteer to do this,” Gillaspy says. “I’m not aware that all states are doing this, but we certainly are.”

Gillaspy says Minnesota’s efforts during this cycle are more involved than they were a decade ago and far exceed the state outreach during the 1980 and 1990 headcounts. The Legislature approved funding for a three-year effort, and it can pay for itself by successfully counting even a relatively small number of people, he says.

Still, Kim Brace, the head of the consulting firm Election Data Services, is worried that some states have cut back on their outreach efforts to save money during this recession. He predicts, for example, that California will suffer because it couldn’t afford to better promote the census.

On the other hand, Brace says, technology has improved the amount of interim census data available to the public during the count.

“Ten years ago, we were lucky to have just to have an overall county-level count of the response rate at this time,” he says. “Now we’ve got it at the (census) tract level. That’s phenomenal.” Practically speaking, Brace says, that lets elected officials or community leaders check with the Census Bureau’s online maps to determine which areas are falling behind and respond immediately.

People who didn’t turn in their forms are less likely to answer the door when a Census worker comes knocking, explains New York City’s Cumberbach. And even if they do talk, she says, they may not provide accurate information.

In New York City, six people may share a one-bedroom apartment. Or a family of immigrants may include some people who are in the country legally and some who are not. “It’s almost like everyone has something in their home that they don’t want to share or that they’re nervous about,” Cumberbach says.

Neighborhoods with the lowest mail-in participation rates tend to have more blacks and more Hispanics than areas that turned in a bigger share of their forms, according to an analysis by the City University of New York. The 5 percent of neighborhoods with the lowest response rates were, on average, 54-percent minority. The rest of the country as a whole is 30-percent minority.

When it comes to states, many of those most in jeopardy of losing U.S. House seats – a number of them clustered around the Great Lakes – had some of the best response rates in the country. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia topped the charts.

This is especially important because the housing crisis has slowed the population growth of many Sun Belt states, and because many of those states also have below-average census response rates. Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Georgia all were expected to gain seats, but each had 70 percent or lower mail-in participation rates.

An inaccurate headcount can cost communities more than just political clout. A study by a census oversight board following the 2000 count said the country’s 58 largest counties would lose out on a combined $3.6 billion over the decade in funds distributed by population formula, more than $2,900 per person.

“Every person missed,” says Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, “is that much less federal resources for everything from schools and medical services to resources to pave the streets.”

Is the Census Bureau inflating participation rates in Florida?

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

The following story from keysnet.com makes us wonder if participation rates from the Census Bureau are truly accurate (or inflated as the story suggests). If any statisticians or Census Bureau officials reading this want to chime in, please do so in the comments section.

Census sending enumerators back to the Keys

By RYAN McCARTHY

It’s safe to say U.S. Census Bureau officials and Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers disagree on just how many Keys residents have been counted for the 2010 tally.

Census officials have been touting return rates as high as 97.5 percent in the Keys, which raised Carruthers’ — and others’ — suspicion. She put out a call on Thursday asking those not counted to contact her office.

That 97.5 percent figure appears to be inflated.

“We have an amazing number of people calling saying they haven’t been counted. Some say their whole neighborhood; some say [a census taker] left a note on their door and never came back,” Carruthers said.

She’d heard enough, and asked Marilyn Stephens, Census Bureau partnership specialist for South Florida, to address the County Commission this Wednesday in Key Largo.

“Maybe this will light a fire under them and they’ll go back out and count some of these,” Carruthers said.

Similarly high return rates — 87 percent countywide and 99 percent in Key West — were reported in April, but it was later determined that the Census Bureau was pulling those numbers from two select groups of people: Military personnel and the handful of Monroe residents who live on the mainland.

Carruthers has been trumpeting the importance of the census since well before it started on March 22. Return rates in Monroe County during the 2000 census were poor, which affected the amount of state and federal grant dollars the Keys received.

Returns were so poor, in fact, that the Census Bureau implemented a hand enumeration program in the Keys. It hired hundreds of workers from the Keys and South Florida to visit residents door to door. In other areas of the country — and at Keys military bases and on mainland Monroe — people were mailed surveys and asked to fill them out and return them.

Census Bureau spokeswoman Helga Silva said she received word Friday that census workers will canvass the Keys one last time this weekend.

“Twenty-five to 30 enumerators will go down to the Keys this weekend to finish up the operation that stands at around 98 percent. They’re looking at around 100 houses,” Silva said.

Silva said anyone still not counted after this weekend can contact the Census Bureau office in Homestead at (305) 508-9300.

Wednesday’s commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Murray E. Nelson Government & Cultural Center. Stephens is scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m.

New feature on our “contact” page…

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Many Census Bureau employees, fearful of losing their jobs or being publicly identified, have been afraid to contact MyTwoCensus.com.  Now you can contact us anonymously with the new form we have created on our “contact’ page.

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

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

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.

Dr. Groves deflects discussion of 2010 Census in interview and talks about 2020 instead….

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

The Census Bureau’s PR and spin team is at it again. What better way for Census Director Robert M. Groves to avoid talking about the failures of the 2010 Census than to discuss the 2020 Census? Even more shocking is the mainstream media’s failure to report on the Census Bureau problems and jump all over the quote from the interview with Federal News Radio:

Director Robert Groves told Federal News Radio the Bureau is already planning to test using the Internet using the American Community Survey (ACS).

“One of the things I’m committed to,” said Groves, “is to using the surveys, especially the American Community Survey as a platform to test various ideas for 2020.”

No way! In the year 2020, the Census Bureau plans to use, get this, the INTERNET! That’s only like 10 years behind what all the rest of the developed nations are doing!

Census Director Robert M. Groves Lies: The Census Bureau’s software, IT, and computer problems are NOT fixed

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Earlier this week, Dr. Robert M. Groves told NextGov that the Census Bureau’s infamous computer problems with the paper-based operations control system (PBOCS) software were fixed. He even went so far as to have a memo, obtained by MyTwoCensus, sent by his underlings to Census Bureau officials throughout the country, relaying this information:

Attention: Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Census Manager for IT, and Lead Support Coordinators/Representatives.

Update: The technical team is ready to implement the fix for performance issues.  In order to do so, the system will be brought down at 6:45 PM ET.  All users need to log off prior to this time and remain out of the system until further notice.  This process should take approximately two hour and once the system is available, there will be a staggered log-in.  DOTS will send out another message regarding when PBOCS will be available and the staggered log-in schedule.


From:

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010/BOC

To:

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010/BOC@BOC

Cc:

Alan J Berlinger/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Annetta Clark Smith/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Arnold A Jackson/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Barbara M LoPresti/TMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Brian E McGrath/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Bridgette M Hendricks/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Chad G Nelson/TMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Curtis L Broadway/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, dcurtner@harris.com, Decennial IT Support List, Dennis W Stoudt/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, dmays@harris.com, Dsouzav@GAO.GOV, DSPO PBO MGMT List, Ellen W Cafarella/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, fdca_pbams@ics-nett.com, FLD 2010 Regional Offices List, FLD Deputy Regional Directors List, FLD Regional Directors, Gail A Leithauser/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Hilda S Dimmock/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Jacque M Biles/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Janet R Cummings/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, jlawrenc@harris.com, K Evan Moffett/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Karen C Field/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Louis R Avenilla/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Lucia J Chavez/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Marilia A Matos/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Maryann M Chapin/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Michael T Thieme/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, mtrocki@OIG.DOC.GOV, Pamela D Mosley/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Robert M Groves/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, SJackson@OIG.DOC.GOV, Tammi Michelle Archer/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, TicehurstJ@gao.gov, TMO DOTS 2010 Staff List, Viola L Lewis Willis/AMSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Wayne Dustin/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC

Date:

05/13/2010 05:10 PM

Subject:

UPDATE INFORMATION – PBOCS Performance Issues, 5:00 PM ET, 5/13

Sent by:

Rebecca St Martin

Attention: Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Census Manager for IT, and Lead Support Coordinators/Representatives.

Update: The technical team is still testing the fix for the performance issues.  They hope to have the system available sometime tonight however at this point we do not have a more specific time frame.  DOTS will send out another update at 7:00 PM ET.

If you have any questions/concerns regarding this message, please respond to only DOTS 2010.  Please do not reply to all.

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support (DOTS) 2010
Phone: 301-763-2010


From:

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010

To:

Decennial IT Support List, FLD Regional Directors, FLD Deputy Regional Directors List

Cc:

TMO DOTS 2010 Staff List, FLD 2010 Regional Offices List, Barbara M LoPresti/TMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Gail A Leithauser/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Janet R Cummings/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Karen C Field/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Louis R Avenilla/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Viola L Lewis Willis/AMSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, DSPO PBO MGMT List, fdca_pbams@ics-nett.com, Hilda S Dimmock/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, SJackson@OIG.DOC.GOV, Pamela D Mosley/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Michael T Thieme/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Wayne Dustin/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Curtis L Broadway/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Dennis W Stoudt/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Maryann M Chapin/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Alan J Berlinger/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, dmays@harris.com, dcurtner@harris.com, jlawrenc@harris.com, TicehurstJ@gao.gov, K Evan Moffett/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, mtrocki@OIG.DOC.GOV, Dsouzav@GAO.GOV, Lucia J Chavez/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Marilia A Matos/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Ellen W Cafarella/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Annetta Clark Smith/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Bridgette M Hendricks/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Tammi Michelle Archer/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Jacque M Biles/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Brian E McGrath/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Arnold A Jackson/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Robert M Groves/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC

Date:

05/13/2010 04:01 PM

Subject:

UPDATE: INFORMATION – PBOCS Performance Issues, 4:00 PM ET, 5/13

Sent by:

Chad G Nelson

Attention: Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Census Manager for IT, and Lead Support Coordinators/Representatives.

Information: The fix for the performance issues currently be experienced is still being tested.  We remain with 6 regions on the system and 6 blocked.  DOTS will send out another update at 5:00 PM ET.

If you have any questions/concerns regarding this message, please respond to only DOTS 2010.  Please do not reply to all.

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support (DOTS) 2010
Phone: 301-763-2010

To: Decennial IT Support List, FLD Regional Directors, FLD Deputy Regional Directors List
From: TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010
Sent by: Chad G Nelson/TMO/HQ/BOC
Date: 05/13/2010 02:15PM
cc: TMO DOTS 2010 Staff List, FLD 2010 Regional Offices List, Barbara M LoPresti/TMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Gail A Leithauser/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Janet R Cummings/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Karen C Field/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Louis R Avenilla/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Viola L Lewis Willis/AMSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, DSPO PBO MGMT List, fdca_pbams@ics-nett.com, Hilda S Dimmock/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, SJackson@OIG.DOC.GOV, Pamela D Mosley/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Michael T Thieme/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Wayne Dustin/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Curtis L Broadway/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Dennis W Stoudt/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Maryann M Chapin/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Alan J Berlinger/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, dmays@harris.com, dcurtner@harris.com, jlawrenc@harris.com, TicehurstJ@gao.gov, K Evan Moffett/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, mtrocki@OIG.DOC.GOV, Dsouzav@GAO.GOV, Lucia J Chavez/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Marilia A Matos/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Ellen W Cafarella/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Annetta Clark Smith/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Bridgette M Hendricks/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Tammi Michelle Archer/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Jacque M Biles/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Brian E McGrath/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Arnold A Jackson/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Robert M Groves/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC
Subject: UPDATE INFORMATION – PBOCS Staggered Log-in. Currently Suspended.


Attention:
Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Census Manager for IT, and Lead Support Coordinators/Representatives.


Information:
Due to log-in issues caused by the number of users trying to come onto the system right now, the staggered log-ins have been suspended.  The six remaining RCCs will not be allowed to log-in until the current backlog has declined.  DOTS will send out a message when the remaining RCCs can log-in.

The remaining RCCs are:

2499 = Detroit

2599 = Chicago

2699 = KC

3199 = Denver

2799 = Seattle

3299 = Los Angeles

If you have any questions/concerns regarding this message, please respond to only DOTS 2010.  Please do not reply to all.

(more…)

Screenshot: The # of Census Bureau employees by week…

Friday, May 14th, 2010

This data comes from the Census Bureau’s web site:

Breaking News & MyTwoCensus Payrollgate Investigation: The Census Bureau has failed to pay thousands of employees!

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

SHOW ME THE MONEY! It’s simple. When you’ve got hundreds of thousands of employees working for you, pay them on time. MyTwoCensus.com has received more than a dozen complaints within the past 12 hours from Census Bureau employees, at offices throughout the nation, who have not been paid on time. It is unknown whether this inexcusable error by the Census Bureau is a result of computer system failures (a problem that has plagued the Census Bureau for months if not years — even though Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said two days ago that the problems were fixed). Even though most of the 500,000+ Census Bureau employees who are out in the field this week are temporary employees, they still depend on this income from the federal government. A great number of these temporary employees were unemployed before their Census Bureau work came about, and thus are now living paycheck to paycheck. Unfortunately, when those paychecks don’t come, everyone is hurt. This is particularly damning because many employees lost their unemployment benefits to take Census Bureau jobs, and will have an extremely hard time getting these payments again once the work is finished.

(Interestingly, a marketing firm called GA1 that had a contract with the Census Bureau publicly accused the government of not paying them on time back in March, but it’s unknown to me at this time whether the situation was resolved.)

One disgruntled employee wrote me the following about her experience, which sounds more like a Kafka novel than an account of living and working in the world’s greatest democracy:

I started working for the census on April 12, 2010. My first paycheck was supposed to be deposited on April 28 but it wasn’t. I called my LCO that day and was informed they entered the wrong account number into their system. They asked me for the correct account number and told me that they updated the system. Next they told me that I had to call the hotline to start the re-issuance process for the missing check. I did as instructed and was told it would take 5-7 business days to be deposited into my acct. The next payday was May 5 and check #2 isn’t there and #1 is still “missing”. I again call the hotline (got the answering machine the first 20+ times) when I finally found a human they wanted to take a message, I refused because I had left countless messages with no return call. So I waited on hold for over 25 minutes. I was told again that the check would be reissued in 5-7 days. Week 3 pay date May 12, finally a paycheck! However it was only for the last pay period. #1 and #2 still missing. I called the hotline today and I’m getting the run-around. They won’t tell me anything! I called DOL and was told they can’t help because technically I’m a federal employee and they gave me another number to call. I called this number and was told they couldn’t help because I was a temporary employee. What can I do? I need my money, I am a single mom with kids to feed. Right now I’m wishing I would have just stayed on unemployment. To top it all off, the uncaring attitude of my LCO doesn’t help… they just say don’t worry. You’ll be paid eventually, we don’t know when but eventually.

To the hundreds of thousands people who are victims of this lax payment plan by the government, know that I am here to fight for you. Please submit your stories in the comments section below. This behavior by the Census Bureau is unacceptable. Today, I am calling Dr. Groves (the Census Bureau Director), Steve Jost (the Census Bureau’s Communications Director), the Public Information Office, and officials who are responsible for the payroll to get to the bottom of this mess.

For now, MyTwoCensus.com urges ALL EMPLOYEES who have not been paid to contact your Member of Congress and your Senators. Go to their offices if you can, but if not, lodge complaints by phone and e-mail. If you wish, please send me your complaints privately as well. MyTwoCensus is in contact with both Democrat and Republican Members of Congress who will hopefully be able to have some clout to get this problem resolved immediately.

UPDATE: Here’s another update from an anonymous Census Bureau employee Asheville, North Carolina, which to my knowledge is the only place where the media has actually reported these problems:

No one out of the Asheville office was paid properly today. I received 0. Three of my crew also received 0. two got 1 days pay/ 5 got 2 Days pay.
When manager raised cain was threatened with firing.
One enumerator had to borrow 8 dollars for gas to get home. One is threatened with eviction from her trailer.
Asheville LCO told another enumerator to expect to be paid on the 26th.
Asheville LCO said not to worry it was a nationwide computer glitch.
Asheville did not care that these folks had been out of work and need the money…especially the gas they have been buying to do the job.
Please do not use my name or email or I will get fired too.
We heard from other census workers in different cld that they also had widespread pay issues.
No one we heard from in Asheville district got the correct pay.
What can we do? If we raise a stink they will fire us.
The Census is now hiring at $9.00 per hour. we were hired at $11.50/ Are they trying to force us out to hire cheaper workers?

Shots fired at Census Bureau employee

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Thanks to Statesman.com for the following story. Sadly, MyTwoCensus has long predicted that anti-federal government sentiment would result in crazy individuals shooting Census Bureau employees simply trying to do their jobs. This is partially because rabble-rousers like CNN and talk radio’s Eric Erickson told people that he would shoot any census worker who tried to come to his door. I called for Mr. Erickson to be fired months ago, but perhaps it won’t actually happen until someone dies. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in Saturday’s incident:

Leander attorney accused of shooting at Census worker

By Miguel Liscano | Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 12:46 PM

barnes.jpg

Williamson County sheriff’s officials have charged a Leander attorney with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after they say she fired five shots at a U.S. Census Bureau worker on Saturday, court records show.

Carolyn M. Barnes, 53, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the felony. She was being held in the Williamson County Jail this afternoon with bail set at $50,000.

According to the affidavit, the Census Bureau employee told officials that Barnes pointed a handgun at her when she showed up at Barnes’s home, in the 400 block of Indian Trail in Leander, to collect information.

As the woman tried to get away, Barnes fired the weapon, the document says. It is unclear if she was injured.

Records show Barnes has not hired an attorney. The voice mailbox at her home and law office said they were full.

Barnes was previously arrested Jan. 8 in Austin after officials said she struck a Travis County deputy at the Sweatt Travis County Courthouse.

She was charged with assaulting a public servant, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years behind bars. Those charges are still pending, court records show.

According to an arrest affidavit, when Barnes entered the courthouse at 1000 Guadalupe St. and went through a security screening, deputies found a small knife.

They asked her to return the knife to her car, but she refused, the affidavit said. The document said she struck the officer after she took out her cell phone and the deputy asked her to take the call outside.

Census workers denied access to gated community: Is this a nationwide epidemic?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Do the residents and managers of gated communities feel that they are above being counted by the 2010 Census? First off, I’m admittedly not a fan of gated communities, because the whole percieved safety of them doesn’t mesh with how safe residents actually are. Secondly, to think that a whole segment of the population feels that they are above enumerators counting them is irritating. (Yes, this is also a problem in places like New York City where doormen and building superintendents turn enumerators away). Here’s an article from the Miami Herald that discusses the problem in Florida:

Census workers denied entry into gated community

Census workers were denied entry to a gated community in Aventura, highlighting a problem that the Census Bureau says it encounters nationwide.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/10/1623122/census-workers-denied-entry-into.html#ixzz0nh6Z3Eoy

BY JARED GOYETTE

jgoyette@MiamiHerald.com

On at least one occasion in the last month, U.S. Census workers were denied access to a gated community in Aventura, underlying a challenge faced by the Census Bureau as it seeks to count residents in wealthy communities.

“Gated communities can pose a problem,” said Aventura Vice Mayor Luz Weinberg, who has done extensive outreach for the Census in South Florida. “It has more to do with the security staff not knowing any better.”

On May 7, a Facebook user posted a comment on the page of the City of Aventura Blog alleging that Census workers — who go door-to-door to collect Census information from residences that have not mailed back forms — were denied entry to Country Club Estates, 20000 East Country Club Dr.

Adley Joseph, the guard on duty at Country Club Estates, confirmed that he had told Census workers they could not enter the property.

“This is a very private neighborhood, we are very strict about who we let in,” he said.

Property manager Liliana Matznick said it was Country Club Estates policy to let in Census workers and that several had accessed the community in recent weeks. She said she would follow up with the security company to determine what happened.

Weinberg said it is important for property managers to alert security staff that Census workers may need access.

“Property managers need to be on board and know how the Census works,” Weinberg said. “And security staff, while still following their safety regulations, need to be aware, too. The census workers show up with I.D., these are trained people.”

Aventura is lagging behind its participation rate in the 2000 Census. For that Census, 61 percent of Aventura residents responded, compared to 69 percent in Florida and 72 percent nationwide.

According to the Census Bureau website, Aventura currently has a 53 percent rate of participation in the mailed Census, which is 19 percent below this year’s national rate of 72 percent. A downturn in participation could have consequences for the city, as federal funds that help pay for things like hospitals, schools and emergency services are tied to the census count.

Pam Page-Bellis, regional spokeswoman for the Census Bureau, said that the agency had anticipated that gated communities would be a problem.

Staff with local Census offices have reached out to property managers to make sure Census workers are allowed to do their jobs.

“Gated communities have always presented a real challenge nationwide,” she said.

“South Florida is no exception. We hope that we can work with the management and gain access so that everybody gets counted,” Page-Bellis said.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/10/1623122/census-workers-denied-entry-into.html#ixzz0nh6PSdfy

NextGov: Census Director Robert M. Groves says computer problems are fixed

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

For weeks, we have reported on the serious PBOCS (paper-based operations control system) computer, tech, and software failures that have occurred in Washington and at local census offices throughout the country. According to NextGov, the problems are all solved:

By Dawn Lim 05/11/2010

The top Census Bureau executive said on Tuesday that the agency has fixed glitches that caused major outages in a computer system that manages information collected by census takers.

Census Director Robert Groves told Nextgov that the bureau enlisted developers to work with agency staff to solve the problem.

The problems occurred in the paper-based operations control system and could drive up costs beyond the $15 billion the bureau estimates it will cost to conduct the 2010 decennial count, according to a report from the Commerce Department’s inspector general that was released last week.

“In the past four days there have been dramatic improvements,” Groves said.

He did not disclose how much the repairs cost but added that investments in the system “cost a lot less money than it would have cost if that system didn’t work.”

He added, “The problem with the system created a backlog of completed work being checked in. The impact of these problems will be on the backend processing.”

The cost of sending out part-time workers to travel door to door to visit households that failed to complete and send back a census form remains at about $85 million for each percentage point of households that did not mail back a form, he said. That works out to about $2.38 billion because 28 percent of households did not mail back their forms by the April 27 due date.

On other topics, Groves said the next decennial census should offer an online option, which Congress has pushed the bureau to consider for years. “I can’t conceive 2020 without it,” he said. But he added that the bureau should proceed cautiously as it weighs procurement options because “nobody knows what the 2020 Internet will look like.”

“There are pressures in DC to lock into [software] designs very early and say how much you are going to spend on the 2020 [census] before you know what you’re going to do,” he said. “These pressures have to be managed carefully.”

Groves supported the Census Oversight Efficiency and Management Reform Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., to make the job of the Census director a five-year, term-limited position to promote continuity across administrations and alleviate the fears of partisanship in the bureau.

Groves said it was problematic that so many census directors had been appointed in years ending with a nine – the year before the bureau began one of its largest undertaking, the decennial count. “To say that’s a good way to run this place, you must believe that the place is better off without a director,” he said.

Legal troubles for the 2010 Census in Guam

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

People forget that the 2010 Census includes Guam, Puerto Rico, and other American territories. We will be looking into whether these matters have anything to do with Washington DC. Here’s some info from PacificNewsCenter.com:

Guam – Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Andersen has ruled that GovGuam’s award of a phone service contract to Pacific Data Systems [PDS] violated GovGuam procurement law.

In her decision, Barrett-Andersen also states that GTA should have been awarded the contract because it was the only responsive bidder, and she concluded that GTA is entitled to collect reasonable costs for the expenses its incured in protesting of the award.

Read the Court’s Decision

However, the Judge let the contract award to PDS stand and denied GTA’s request for a permanent injunction because she found that the contract is in the best interest of the Territory.  ”There are only 4 months remaining to complete the Census … any disruption … of the telecommunications system currently in operation for the 2010 Census would be detrimental.”

The decision is another indictment of the troubled GovGuam procurement process. Judge Barrett-Andersen found fault with both the General Services Agency [GSA], which was responsible for awarding the bid, and PDS.

“PDS’s did not meet the IFB specifications,” she writes.

And GSA was criticised for “accepting the lowest bidder based on considerations outside the precise language of the bid specifications.” The Judge called that “an anti-competitive practice.” The Judge scolded the agency writing “The Government must be wary of the temptations associated with a focus on the lowest bid price .. GSA cannot abdicate its duties and responsibilities as the guardian of the public trust in the procurement process.”

GTA bid  $37,388 to provide a digital control system with 35 digital handsets. PDS submitted a bid for $23,069 which included a digital control system with 35 “analog” handsets.

PDS released the following statement in response to the Judges order:


Guam Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Andersen has rendered her decision in Case No. 0050‐10, denying GTA’s claims in the case
and affirming the award to Pacific Data Systemsby the Government of Guam General Services Agency (GSA).

Judge Barrett‐Andersen’s  Decision  and  Order  also  lifted  the  temporary restraining order previously granted to GTA by the Court.  In a related
earlier decision, the Court also approved a Stipulation entered into by, GTA and the Government of Guam wherein all allegations made by GTA
against PDS of bad faith or misrepresentations were dropped.

The case involved a Bid Protest and formal Complaint filed by GTA against the Government of Guam and PDS alleging the award by GSA to PDS of a bid for telephone  services and  equipment to the Census Bureau  Office  had  been  wrongfully  made.   Judge  Barrett‐Andersen  denied  GTA’s  request  to  have  the award  and  contract  to  PDS  set  aside  and  a  subsequent  award  of  the  contract  made  to  GTA.   Judge Barrett‐Andersen chose to make no ruling on the facts presented by PDS during the hearing regarding the failure of the GTA bid to meet the Government’s bid requirements.

PDS President, John Day, issued the following statement regarding the final resolution of this issue, ”It is unfortunate that so much time and effort had to be consumed responding to GTA’s allegations in order to achieve  official  affirmation  of  this Bid  Award  from  the  Court.   It  is  now  clear  to  all  that  PDS’  bid represented the best solution to meet the Government’s requirements.

Testimony presented by Census Office  officials  during  the  Court  hearings  provided  undisputed  endorsement  of  the  PDS  solution  and highly credible evidence that the PDS system does indeed meet all requirements of the Census office and is doing so at a significant to the Government”.