Daily Sound Off: Contender for Worst Local Census Office
Today’s Daily Sound Off comes from Georgia:
From a contender to the title of “The Worst LCO in the Nation”
Well, it looks like the U. S. Census finally got the PBOCS software working. The solution, reduce the number of users from 10 to 2. This means it will take 5 times longer to key the volumes of returned enumerator questionnaires that have been stacked into boxes waiting for a clerk to key them.
While we are on the subject of questionnaires I would like to explain the process in our LCO (local census office), Macon Georgia.
!. Enumerators turn in their completed questionnaires to their crew leader who reviews them for completeness and then initials showing his approval. Enumerators are experiencing a large number of irate people that do not want to participate and have discovered it is easier to call the residence vacant of cannot locate than it is to try and get the information. No one likes to be chewed out and in a way I don’t blame them. A large percent of the population don’t trust the Census and wish to be left alone.
Residents are handing the Census envelopes they received in the mail to the enumerator and telling them to leave. These envelopes are not being mailed but are being thrown into boxes. At least if they were mailed, the people might be counted.
2. The crew leader brings them to the office where clerks log the receipt of “X” number of questionnaires.
3. Then they are given to clerks for review of completeness. We have about 30 clerks on three shifts doing this. Those that fail are returned to the crew leader for rework. The return rate is about 50% because Crew leaders are not reviewing, just initialing, and sometime not initialing. What company would pay for this amount of poor performance and then pay more to the same people to do the work again and even worse allow it to continue?
4. Once the clerk begins keying another 20% of the forms are pulled out to be returned to the crew leader because the clerks did a poor job of their review. Another 20% to 30% of the questionnaires are sent to Data Collection office with incomplete information
5. Where are the managers and supervisors? What are they doing about it? Well last month, the Area Manager took over the office but after two weeks she could not make a difference even with the assistance of three RT’s so they assigned another area manager who left two RT’s with us and one is acting LCOM (LCO manager) after firing the LCOM. The acting LCOM can barely speak English and neither knows enough to do anything but contribute to the turmoil. They think the solution is to see how many people they can make miserable by denying them food and drink in their work area and not allowing them to leave except for a two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch. They must raise their hand when they need more work or have to go to the bathroom. Next there is a field operations manager who has 3 office supervisors and 7 field office supervisors to help her. All are poorly trained and most are not supervisor material, The solution is to add two more Field Office Supervisors (both have less than 30 days experience) to supervise the office operations supervisors. To the Census, more is usually the solution not accountability for their actions. The same people that did poor work during Address Canvassing, and Group Quarters are still being paid to make a mess of Non Response Follow Up. These RT’s will not listen to those managers that years of supervisor experience and know how to solve the problem. We probably will soon have a new set of RT’s and another Area Manager because nothing is improving.
6. Finally there is shipping of the questionnaires. The Census Bureau with their infinite wisdom decided to take some strain off the PBOCS by moving shipping to a DAPPS based program. This seems like a good idea but in doing so removed the checks and balance that PBOCS had which prevented questionnaires from being shipped without being checked-in. Now any questionnaire can be shipped. What a mess we are going to have.
Management is the source of all problems within the Census; i.e., I should say the lack of management and it starts at the top. The U.S. Census has grown to be a management nightmare and will need serious restructure if it is to survive. All the public relations, TV commercials, nor increased spending can cure the festering sores.
I sense that these problems are common place throughout the nation. With all the problems that have come to light, we are previewing the Death of the Census because the problems will ultimately make 2020 Census impossible. How can the Secretary of Commerce keep a straight face when he presents the results to President Obama on December 31, 2010?