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 June, 2010

Not how you want to start your holiday weekend…Bedbugs infest LCO 2226 in Brooklyn

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Subject: Bed bugs at LCO 2226

Message Body:
The bed bugs are not just in the admin area of the LCO 2226 office. They are all over.  Someone in the IT room was napping (when working the night shift) and woke up with their stomach all eaten up.

One worker ended up bringing them home and the office won’t pay to deal with the employees home infestation.

No one wants to go to the office anymore to work because they don’t want to get bed bugs.  Its awful.

Rumor: Change in DAPPS Payroll Software?

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Anyone have any knowledge about the following tip:

Subject: DAPPS payroll software change
Message Body:
It appears that the following occurred on either 6/27 or 6/28. A change to D-308 timesheet editing rules in DAPPS was implemented which no longer permits timesheets to include entries for which one entry ends at the same time as the next begins. Such entries have been accepted up until now, and are *necessary* to properly record work across the midnight boundary. Rumor has it that the change was made to stop somebody from getting extra pay by exploiting a bug in the system.

It is not clear what the details are, for example how multiple task codes affect the results, but it is known for certain that work across the midnight boundary is affected, and that the new edit rules can cause errors between timesheets and batches. Washington I.T. support apparently is telling people they have to shift their time 1/4 hour away from midnight (trivially, falsifying their timesheets). My LCO discovered that payroll batches which had been entered without errors for the previous week, if re-opened and re-saved for any reason, generated NEW errors. It also appears that a key diagnostic report regarding overlapping time is now, sometimes, “broken” in a way that masks existing errors.

If my understanding of DAPPS is correct, it is *possible* that MANY LCOs experienced errors when payroll was transmitted 6/29.

The change was made the day before payroll had to be wrapped up and transmitted, and there was NOT SO MUCH AS AN E-MAIL NOTIFICATION. We can’t be the only ones who got burned; HQ I.T. support confirmed the situation and provided the workaround.

I would love to know how much of a problem this has caused, and/or whether the change had to be backed out of the code. As of Tuesday afternoon 6/29 the change was still in place.

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Steve Jost says Aramanda is no longer managing Chicago LCO

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

MyTwoCensus has been investigating the job history, performance, and current employment status of Joseph Aramanda, the Blago associate who somehow made the miraculous jump from pizza shop owner to Chicago Local Census Office Manager. That this man was in charge of thousands of employees and significant amounts of sensitive data should have raised red flags immediately.

But apparently the Chicago political machine was able to hush these voices until MyTwoCensus stepped in to publicize this corrupt activity and Congressman Patrick McHenry’s office subsequently launched an investigation into this man. Yesterday, Steve Jost, Associate Director for Communications of the Census Bureau, wrote to me, “Mr Aramanda is not managing the LCO and is in a non-working status pending further review.” Now, we’re wondering, is Mr. Aramanda still on the Census Bureau payroll?

According to a response I received yesterday from the Census Bureau’s FOIA office, Mr. Aramanda started work at the Census Bureau on November 2, 2009. This was 8 months after Blago was impeached and some 6 months after he was indicted. It is unacceptable that a man so closely tied to a major political scandal was approved to run the 2010 Census operations of the city of Chicago. Those who hired him should be investigated for not following proper human resources practices.

Updates/claifications on the following in the comments…

Additionally, if my memory serves me correct, the Census Bureau’s job application asks specifically if one has been involved in any political activities. Did Mr. Aramanda lie on his job application or did the Census Bureau hire a man who was widely known to be deeply involved with the Illinois political machine?

How the 2010 Census will impact investments

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Here’s an article from Forbes for those interested in the financial impact of the 2010 Census.

Congressman speaks about Census worker safety

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

H/t to Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post for this clip of Congressman Jim Moran:

Strange News Of The Day: Western Colorado Census Office Raided By Feds

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Very interesting story here from the Grand Junction Sentinel:

Feds checking for violations of safety laws at census office

By Gary Harmon
Sunday, June 27, 2010

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into the U.S. Census Bureau office in Grand Junction, which earlier this year was inundated by fumes from a marijuana-growing operation in the same building.

A person who worked in the building at 573 W. Crete Circle, meanwhile, said as many as a dozen claims might be filed by census employees affected by pesticide fumes from the nearby operation, which shared a ventilation system with the census office.

The inspection is intended to determine if there were violations of federal workplace-safety laws as a result of the fumes flowing into the offices, Herb Gibson, area director for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said Friday.

The agency’s inspection “is open, and I would say it will stay open for a few more weeks,” Gibson said.

Inspectors have visited the census office, where Gibson said officials are in the process of making modifications to the ventilation system.

A Mesa County grand jury last week declined to indict the three people who owned the marijuana operation.

Still, a former office employee, who asked not to be identified, said some people who worked there, including the employee, have suffered ill effects from the fumes, which were those of pesticides used to protect the marijuana plants, census officials said.

Even though officials point to the pesticides, other odors were unmistakable, the employee said.

“You walk in the front door, and you feel like you’re at a Bob Marley concert,” the employee said.

Even after leaving the office, the employee said pain and coughing developed to the point that the employee had to be hospitalized for several days.

“I was screaming in pain” and forced to double over by the coughing, the employee said. “It felt like it was burning me from the inside.”

The employee has been in contact with other people from the office who have been hospitalized. Some are preparing or have prepared workers’ compensation claims as a result of their exposures in the office, the employee said. (more…)

Rumor: Shakeup in Milwaukee?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The last rumor about a management shakeup in Brooklyn proved to be 100% true. Anyone know anything about this rumor from a Census Bureau employee in Wisconsin:

My FOS told me today that last Thursday-Friday (6-17, 18) at  the Milwaukee LCO, about 10 people were taken away in handcuffs and there is now an armed Homeland Security guard on duty at all times. My LCO supervisor has been transferred to that LCO to clean up and a new supervisor is being sent in from Chicago RCC to cover my West Allis area.

What’s the deal with Mississippi?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

A few weeks ago, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said that the 2010 Census advertising campagin was finished. Later, he said that the Census Bureau was still working to advertise in Mississippi. Yesterday, I published an article from Mississippi that complained about the lack of advertising dollars from the Census Bureau spent in the state:

Much of the blame has to fall on the Census Bureau. In the past, the Bureau used the American Association of Advertising Agencies and national media groups to provide millions of dollars of donated advertising to motivate readers and viewers to fill out and return their forms. That was not done this year.

If anyone reading this blog has knowledge about 2010 Census operations in Mississippi, please be sure to let us know!

Strange news of the day: Man threatens Census worker with bulldozer

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

This news comes from Alaska.

Mississippi feels that the Census Bureau “dropped the ball” on the 2010 headcount

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Here’s the article.

Other media outlets report on the Brooklyn scandal…

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

We are glad to see the New York Times and New York Daily News reporting about the Census Bureau’s latest scandal in Brooklyn. At this point, the big question is whether the individuals involved with this data fabrication effort will be formally charged with crimes. Hopefully by Monday we will know the answer…

Census Bureau re-interviewing thousands of people in Brooklyn

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Well, folks, you heard it here first. (Don’t forget that!) Now, let’s hope that the New York news organizations will pick up on the following info. As usual the Census Bureau releases critical information on a Friday afternoon in the summer time hoping that the media mavens in New York are already on their way to the Hamptons and will forget about this by Monday. How much will this operation cost taxpayers? Will the fired officials be charged with crimes? Here’s a Census Bureau Press Release:

Brooklyn Households May Get Additional Visit From Census Bureau

Quality checks reveal work must be redone to ensure complete accurate count

WASHINGTON, June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Census Bureau today announced that checks on the quality of some of the work in the Brooklyn North East local census office (LCO) have led to a replacement of the management of that office, and to the judgment that at least 10,000 household interviews will have to be redone to ensure a complete and accurate count.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090226/CENSUSLOGO)

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090226/CENSUSLOGO)

“I want to stress that our highest priority is to get a complete and accurate count in 2010 for Brooklyn, and while I regret some of the work must be redone, I’m sure the people of Brooklyn share in the goal of getting this right,” said Regional Director Tony Farthing.

Census officials from the New York Regional Office and the Suitland, Maryland headquarters visited the LCO this week following up on concerns raised by some employees in the LCO that the management there was not following established procedures. Senior managers confirmed that a variety of training and processing standards had recently been neglected in the LCO.  The New York Regional Office has replaced the LCO management with two experienced managers who are very familiar with the communities in the affected area. The systematic review of processing steps continues, and may lead to more household re-interviews. A physical inspection of a sample of census questionnaires pointed to a recent breakdown and failure to follow quality standards that must be met by every local census office.

Regional Director Tony Farthing said that the new LCO team will be in the field beginning this weekend to ensure all enumerator interviews are conducted properly and that any suspect interviews will be redone with new interviews of the households. He said he felt confident all the work can be completed before the end of door to door enumeration, but that work would continue until the Bureau is satisfied of the quality.

Editor’s note: News releases, reports and data tables are available on the Census Bureau’s home page. Go to http://www.census.gov and click on “Releases.”

Daily Sound Off: A multitude of problems in Arizona

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Enjoy the following:

Subject: payroll/wages and hours/overtime; proxies, etc./data integrity v. pr-driven deadlines

Message Body:
Denials of overtime claims similar to those reported in Houston (Monday’s
post) – coupled with demands to actually work as long as necessary to meet
artificial deadlines and the resultant spillover of hours into the next pay period -
have occurred in  the Phoenix area.  Other responses to the deadlines, some
potentially affecting data reliability, have included directives to change field
procedures (e.g.: seek a proxy on first unsuccessful visit; complete interviews on
the basis of very limited data from proxies; etc.).  The pressures for sudden wrap
up of Census tasks – usually at the eleventh hour – have coincided with pending
local office visits from the regional office, and have increased in intensity as
close-out (and visit) dates neared, resulting in multiple, contradictory directives
from day-to-day and even within a single day.  As a result, both all or most
non-response followup interview and re-interview (“quality” assurance) closure
deadlines have been met ahead of their original schedules.  The question of data
reliability, however, remains open but usually unasked.  It sure as hell has felt like
pressure from the top downwards to finish by or ahead of deadlines and under
budget, presumably to deflect increasing public scrutiny of past delays, computer
problems, mapping errors, etc.).  Whatever the cause, it has not been pretty.

And more from the same person:

Well, four new reinterview (“RI”) enumerators have joined our QA (aka “RI”) crew for a total of 16 – or 15 (see below) -, reputedly because,
having been trained (and paid for going through 40 hours of training), they MUST be utilized.  The rub is that our original 12-person team
has not had enough cases referred to us over the past 2-and-a-half weeks in the field to satisfy each of our minimum 20-hour work week
“requirement.”  Reputedly (this is what the mid-level echelon tells us), the new crew members were trained in anticipation of enumerator attrition that has not occurred.  Nonetheless, apparently, the new enumerators must be employed now, despite the fact that the reason they were hired and trained (at taxpayer expense) has not materialized, and despite the further fact that there isn’t sufficient work even for those of us who were trained three weeks ago.  Also, reputedly (we’re ALL mushrooms in this cellar!), training of new RI enumerators is STILL ongoing, and we can expect more new crew members next week.

I should add that one of our enumerators has been promoted to “crew leader assistant” status; so, we now have a ratio of 1 leader or
assistant leader to every 5 enumerators.  Thus, our enumerator crew actually is 15, formerly 12: 12 -1 + 4 = 15.

What does a crew leader or crew leader assistant do?  Mostly sit in fast food and storefront restaurants 5 hours per day and fill out
paperwork or, lacking that (something NONE of us often lack) just shoot the shit, so that we all can log our minimum 20-hours per week (just
by attending meaningless meetings!) while the actual casework dribbles out at a slower rate than BP’s rate of contained oil per day.

Oh, yah, and some of us use meeting time to (still) “project” our hours and mileage at essentially mid-day each weekday workday, so
that our CL and CLA’s can get the daily pay logs into Payroll early enough to keep them happy.  They appear to be the only OVER-worked
Census workers in Central Arizona these days!  Meanwhile, the trainees keep on comin’.  The casework does not.  Meanwhile, I still wonder,
when does “projection” become falsification?  But, sadly, I’m caring less these days.  I know that I will not – ULTIMATELY – claim unworked hours; but I also KNOW that shit rolls downhill.

I hasten to add that I respect our CL totally.  But, like us all, that person’s caught in what increasingly appears like a shabbily jerry-rigged
system.

As far as an “actual count”???

So, why is there no work? Reputedly (mushroom factor again) because the outsourced PBOX or PBACHS or Whatever computer system
server can’t support the volume of LOC logins per day nationwide.  So, if that’s true, the problem is nationwide and worthy of a Proxmire Golden Fleece Award, for those of us old enough to remember.

But, hey, I’m just a happy mushroom in these economically troubled times.  Pity the Gulf of Mexico’s nesting birds!  Pity the U.S. taxpayers!
Technically, we are a crew, now, of 15 enumerators and 3 administrators (crew leader and 2 crew leader assistants).  We have no cases to work
and the food at Denny’s sucks but, in the afternoon, we meet someplace with bagels, bean dip or baklava!

From the mailbag: Quality Control

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Any other re-interview problems out there besides what is written below?

I am a crew leader in Broward County on NRFU RI(Non Response Follow-Up Re-Interview).  We do quality assurance on interviews by re-interviewing a percent of all households who did not mail in their forms, but were counted by a Census Taker.  NRFU (Non Response Follow Up), the operation that conducted the original interviews, is finishing up here and will be over this week.  The LCO has started moving a few enumerators from NRFU over to NRFU RI !!!  That means, they will be checking THEIR OWN WORK! Since Crew Leaders have to assign jobs based on the area the enumerator lives in, and there is no way to know who conducted the original interview – these transferred crew members could very possibly quality control their own work and get paid for it.  Beautiful! How could the count possibly be correct when stuff like this is going on? The things I have seen go on in this Census is absolutely unbelievable!  It has changed the whole way I feel about my beloved country and what I think the true capability of our government is in other areas.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Class action lawsuit should include everyone, not only minorities

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Earlier this year, MyTwoCensus informed readers about a class action lawsuit that alleges that the Census Bureau discriminates in its hiring process against individuals who have been arrested even though they were never charged with a crime. MyTwoCensus.com subsequently received many inquiries from white/Caucasian people who were not hired by the Census Bureau for this reason and hoped to join this lawsuit and were told that because they were white/Caucasian they were unable to partake in the lawsuit. MyTwoCensus.com wrote to the lawyer in charge of the suit, Adam Klein, of the firm Golden Outten in New York to determine if this was true. Unfortunately, Mr. Klein confirmed that only minorities are eligible to participate in this lawsuit. This is a travesty because this lawsuit itself is now discriminatory against any non-minority who wasn’t hired by the Census Bureau because of alleged (though unproven) misconduct. MyTwoCensus encourages Golden Outten to open this suit to everyone, because if justice is served, it should be served for all.

New York has more people than ever…but many are not being counted

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Though the New York Times reported that New York now has 8.4 million people according to 2009 Census Bureau estimates, MyTwoCensus is hoping that Sam Roberts and his colleagues at the Times will be able to investigate the likely undercount of New York City stemming from the fact that 2010 Census enumerators are finding themselves unable to access buildings because of doormen and other security restrictions. This is a problem that has been reported to MyTwoCensus.com on many occasions. And it doesn’t seem to be getting fixed any time soon. Will NRFU operations end before this problem is solved? Will Census Bureau officials resort to the illegal/unconstitutional practice of guesstimating how many people live in each building and then make up false information about the ages and races of the occupants?

If you have answers, don’t hesitate to let us know!

Is it redistricting time already? Some transparency please!

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

The following story comes from OMB Watch:

The Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute convened an advisory board of experts and representatives of good government groups in order to articulate principles for transparent redistricting and to identify barriers to the public and communities who wish to create redistricting plans.

Redistricting is a legally and technically complex process. Access to district creation and analysis software can encourage broad participation by: being widely accessible and easy to use; providing mapping and evaluating tools that help the public to create legal redistricting plans, as well as maps identifying local communities; be accompanied by training materials to assist the public to successfully create and evaluate legal redistricting plans and define community boundaries; have publication capabilities that allow the public to examine maps in situations where there is no access to the software; and promote social networking and allow the public to compare, exchange and comment on both official and community-produced maps.

MyTwoCensus.com on CNN.com

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Please excuse the pluralization of my name…hopefully it will be corrected by tomorrow…

But here we are, basking in mainstream media glory!

What is going on in the New York Region?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
MyTwoCensus has been getting alot of email flooding our inbox from around the New York Region. Here are just some of the claims. Can anyone verify or dispute these claims?

Hudson County North 2214
A crew leader bragged to me today that he finished NRFU early because a lot of his units returned their census forms. I suspect the reason they finished so quickly is because they marked a lot of housing units duplicate claiming the respondent returned their census form when in fact they didn’t. In the manual it says that if there is a XXXX in the status, date columns and a name in the address listing it means the respondent returned their census form. An enumerator should only visit those units with a blank date and status columns and no name. Each binder should contain about an average of 40 NRFU addresses to visit. In urban areas however a census block usually has more than 40 NRFU addresses to visit so the block comprises of several assignments. In order to prevent duplication of work, a NRFU address will be XXXXed in one binder with no name and blank in another binder.
However some of the crews in mY LCO interpreted this differently. They sat around with their binders and if they found an XXXX in one binder and blank in the other they marked duplicate for the NRFU address claiming that the respondent returned their form when in fact they were never counted. The insanity is that they rewarded these people with extra work by bringing them to New York City.

Bronx Office LCO Unknown
I work as a reinterview clerk in quality assurance. Everytime a questionnaire gets flagged for reinterview it arrives in quality assurance with a small red R written in the right margin. One of us transcribes the respondent information and any notes to a green questionnaire. Without looking at the interview results we telephone the respondent and ask him if a census bureau employee visited their household recently. If the answer is yes then we conduct an abbreviated interview asking them the status of the unit on census day, the number of people and just the names of the household members.
However one of my managers told me that in another office the clerks were just transcribing the respondent information and household member names onto the green questionnaire and said their interview was conducted when in fact it was not. What a great way to get 100% accuracy in your quality check!
New York West 2233
Stephen as you know there have been several high rise buildings in affluent areas we are unable to get into.I believe there is a lot of ambiguity and the Census Bureau is implementing procedures in an attempt to hide this unsureness to prevent the City of New York to possibly dispute the count.
There are two boxes on the back of the enumerator questionnaire which isn’t mentioned in the manuals. The two boxes are REF  and CO which stand for refusal and closeout. We are being told to mark the REF and CO boxes when we are at 95% or above. In order to get to 95% we can take a headcount and write in the margin that the respondent refused or didn’t know on all the questions. But that does not justify marking the CO box. If the respondent opens the door and refuses then it is better to mark a population count of 1 but do not mark the REF box.If a real estate management company refuses you access but is willing to tell you how many people live in the building then the enumerator can assume the total number of people in each housing unit is the total population of the building divided by number of units in the building and the enumerator can be the proxy. However they are still not to mark the CO or REF box.
The only time they are allowed to mark the CO or REF boxes are when they absolutely do not know the population and can not use any of the techniques mentioned above. I believe the Census is trying to minimize and cover up the number of housing units they are unable to obtain census day data. Are the number of refusals and closeouts aggregated and made publicly available to municipalities and city and state governments?

Queens County 223?
Several of crew leaders were speaking one night over drinks and one of them told us they were going to help out in Manhattan because they completed NRFU so quickly. They said that would just use the names off the mailboxes. He even said to me that that’s how the Census works, you work quickly you get more work. I asked him if he ever thought about data falsification and he said he never got caught. Apparently since they could never make contact anyways at these houses after several visits that if they got reinterview the enumerator would probably not be able to make contact anyways. He says that by the time they caught that NRFU would be over but not before he got some more work in Manhattan.
New York West 2233
We have at least one building we can’t get into and RCC is working on getting us access. Last week my crew leader informed me to bring in all my EQs and binders. Apparently another crew leader from Chinatown, and the Lower East Side areas who finished NRFU in just three weeks are going to take our work. I was told the other day when my crew leader met with our group that the other FOS district finished the entire building. How is this even possible Chinatown and Lower East Side finished in three weeks, they have so many tenement buildings and illegal immigrants who speak like Spanish and five different Chinese dialects? How did they gain access to the building and how did they finish enumeration in just one day?

TPM breaks down attacks on Census Workers

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Interesting article from TPM Muckraker:

There were 409 threats or assaults on Census workers making home visits between May and last Friday, 24 of which were animal attacks and 13 of which involved shots fired, according to data given to TPMmuckraker by the Census Bureau.

The Washington Post had a good story Sunday looking at the hazards of Census work. The paper noted that this year has seen more than double the 181 incidents reported last time around, in 2000.

Census Spokeswoman Shelly Lowe tells us in an email that the jump “is due in part to an increase in households and a more rigorous tracking system.”

Here’s the breakdown of the 409 incidents so far:

  • In 10 cases the Census worker was robbed, carjacked, or held against his or her will.
  • In 13 cases shots were fired.
  • There were 24 animal attacks or threats.
  • There were 101 verbal assaults or threats.
  • In 132 cases a weapon was pulled or use of a weapon was threatened.

There were 88 physical assaults.