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.

The Census Bureau wastes your tax dollars by shifting workers around the country…

Yesterday, reported that 2010 Census workers from Colorado have arrived in New York to assist with operations. Each of these employees is put up at a hotel and paid a per diem rate. (I’ve heard that Hilton Hotels are being used for this purpose — which isn’t surprising since Census Bureau officials are known to stay at Ritz Carleton Hotels while on government business).

Michael C. Cook of the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office wrote to me yesterday, “When we assess that a particular office is either not following procedures or has weak management we often make staffing changes, or even send in experienced managers to help improve operations and re-train the temporary staff.” So the Census Bureau is saying that nobody in New York, a city of 8 million people,  is capable of handling these procedures? (Two sources have confirmed to me that one manager clerk from Washington DC is even being put up in New York’s Battery Park in a $4,500 per month apartment on your dime.)

The federal government outlines hotel and per diem rates for New York quite clearly. This means that in addition to their salaries as Census Bureau employees, each individual is spending up to $411 per day, not including flights or other expenditures, merely to eat and sleep in New York. This isn’t the first time this has occurred. During the address canvassing stage of 2010 Census operations, the Census Bureau sent in workers from North Carolina to assist with efforts in New York. Such wasteful incidents have also occurred with workers from Georgia being sent to Florida and workers from Texas being sent to Louisiana. With unemployment hovering around 10% and the Census Bureau’s admission that it had four times as many applicants as it did positions open, can this type of spending on transportation, hotels, and per diems be justified? Absolutely not.

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60 Responses to “The Census Bureau wastes your tax dollars by shifting workers around the country…”

  1. JAG Says:

    Switching facts around to confuse people again Stephen? First you say someone is spending $4500 per month to stay in a hotel and then you say they are spending $411 per night for lodging and per diem. If my math is right, $4500 per month in a 30 day month is $150 per night. The GSA link you provide authorizes up to $340 per night for lodging. They clearly aren’t spending $411 as you claim….

  2. The issue Says:

    Isn’t that no one can do it, it’s that they can’t do it on such short notice and didn’t apply ect

  3. Hatta Rayga Says:

    I would like to apply. I can go!

  4. waslcom Says:

    Lodging is only part of per diem. Add to it meals and incidental expenses, and you can do $411/day in NYC. However, don’t forget that there’s a reduction of 25% for a travel day, since you will have one meal at home, won’t you?

  5. anonymous Says:

    Michael Cook answered your questions a while ago too SRM.

    I agree with the comment above…it is a time bound operation…you need them today…not in two weeks…you need them today.
    – Flying someone in = ~4 hours + cost + instant productivity
    – Hiring someone new off the street = interview, hire, clear, train, wait for them to get productive…very ineffective.

  6. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @Jag – no, not switching facts. I have two different sources for the same story. The 4500 per month is for a long-term apartment….

  7. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @anonymous – the Census Bureau hired and trained TONS OF EXTRA PEOPLE in every city. The GAO and Inspector General have been critical that so many people were trained and never worked. So there were people around, but many of them never got the chance to work.

  8. mandy_Reeves Says:

    I’m waiting to be called back maybe…but as long as I’m hanging around and waiting for my last check(which is now 3 days late)I would haved loved to go to NYC and work

  9. mandy_Reeves Says:

    oh and sorry for the off topic-ness…but my frickin CLA LIED to me…On 5/19 he came to pick up my binders because I was having surgery the next day, and would not be able to work for 3 weeks. He told me just write down my hours I worked, and he or the CL could fill a 308 do it for me. I thought that was odd sounding, but just went with it, since he was a supervisor, and I figured he knew what he was doing.

    Turns out he never turned in my hours from 5/17 and 5/19. So now I have to take a taxi to the LCO and fill out a 308. I don’t have car insurance because I was waiting for this check to come in to pay it.

    I am beyond livid at this point.

  10. anonymous Says:

    Point me to the GAO report.

  11. anonymous Says:

    True and very typical.

    My crew ended NRFU today.

  12. 'nuff already Says:

    I would think there would be absolutely no need to move people around, especially at such great distances unless there were truly extenuating circumstances requiring highly skilled or seasoned employees. Certain areas of NYC and its boroughs may qualify for such skill. Regardless, this is taxpayer money we are talking about and every effort should be made to spend it wisely. The waste and perception of waste in government is a huge problem right now.

  13. Al Forteni Says:

    All of this shows how inefficient and ineffective this whole census operation is. Its time for a major overhaul from the top down. Some of these Directors need to go. There needs to be improved hiring of managers, those who actually have some management experience. I guess the Directors are not being held accountable for going over budget, ineffective use of resources as are other agencies, negative public image. They make the census a race, rather than quality so they can get their annual merit pay bonus. Their use of technology is so behind the times and their judgement is questionable as they make decisions that are short sighted. Its a disgrace.

  14. anonymous Says:

    Ritz Carlton!!!! Taxpayer money wasted and I/m a taxpayer, too! :(

  15. anonymous Says:

    Dear U.S. Census Bureau:

    The 2010 Census count is not accurate and “on track”. By mid-May, the Census Bureau had almost 600,000 employees on it’s payroll – many had not worked more than a couple of hours per week.

  16. CLA wannabe in Hampton Roads Says:

    I’m in the Virginia Beach area and we are wrapping up NRFU. No more binders to assign. Better enumerators have been told to “stand by” to reassignment to other crews in the area, but nothing has been forthcoming.

    But then our CL heard in today’s conference call that some enumerators might be brought up from North Carolina (which could be 30 miles away or 300 miles away depending on where in NC we’re talking about) because we’re “behind.”

    SRM, those conference calls are a trip (I’m told). Too bad no one can get you in on one surreptitiously.

  17. NRFU Nut Says:



  18. anonymous Says:

    um. The caps lock is located next to the A key. :-D

  19. Hatta Rayga Says:

    where is the caps key again/

  20. anonymous Says:

    NRFU Nut, I agree. It’s a bogus economic stimulus program and the new economic figures will be out tomorrow.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    We are winding down NRFU next week. Crews are being brought in from the other side of the state (4 to 6 hours away) and placed in hotels, per diem expenses paid, mileage, etc. Our CL asked his supervisor about the next operation – the LCO “doesn’t know when the following operations will start. Tell your crew leaders to re-assign you to another crew or stand-by for future operations”. Do the LCOs have plans or organization?

  22. anonymous2 Says:

    My initial assignment had me commuting 100 miles round trip from one urban area to another each day just to get to the meetings, and NRFU has wrapped up in that area. I’ve been put on a reassignment list and told I could be dispatched up to 200 miles away.

  23. Multiple Anonymous Says:

    Just found out my CL and his CLA were fired this evening.

  24. NCtoNYC Says:

    anonymous2, how did you get on a reassignment list? I asked the NYC RCC and they said “we don’t do reassignments”. Ummm, sounds like they do from this article! I want to be reassigned because I’m moving there in July and am currently active & employed in the Raleigh, NC census. They want me to RESIGN, and then go back into the applicant pool, where I will most likely never get searched for because they’re not hiring fresh anymore, and even if I do will have to be re-trained even though I’ve completed NRFU. Any idea what I should do, anyone?

  25. joesephine_palookaskinski Says:

    my FOS was fired….he was such a tool box anyhow

  26. anonymous Says:

    In the news: Johnson City, TN – inaccurate, undercount of the city’s homeless, transient population.

  27. e.num Says:

    i was hired in march for group enumeration. after training, which lasted less than the advertised 3 days, there was rarely any work. they held some of us over after gqe practically ended, so no opportunity to get into nrfu, which had originally been promised. i wound up getting more training hours than working hours, and was finally let go after 2 months. the whole thing seemed much less organized and efficient than the 2000 census. my fos was insulting, and i orginally thought he was keeping me from getting any hours, as well as getting in my 308s late so i didnt get paid on time, but after reading many posts on here i realize this was a common problem, and not just an aberration in the lco.

  28. e.num Says:

    the homeless count was a joke; they had several areas where homeless were supposed to be, i think they sent out 30 people for 6 to 8 hour shifts, mileage, and counted 5 homeless. from what i saw of it, the whole operation was incredibly inefficient; people were constantly complaining about lack of hours, and nobody knew anything.

  29. Enumearate this Says:

    @Multiple Anonymous: Why were the CL and CLA fired? How can a CLA get fired for anything?

    @joesephine_palookaskinski: Same question about your FOS. Why?

  30. HornyCrewLeader2233 Says:

    “When we assess that a particular office is either not following procedures or has weak management we often make staffing changes, or even send in experienced managers to help improve operations and re-train the temporary staff.”

    These New York offices definitely have weak managers. The area manager had every opportunity to hire the best qualified LCO managers but he wanted to play by the rules and claimed we didn’t come up on the selection cert. When managers didn’t produce he quickly terminated them for performance or forced them to resign. Then the area manager promoted either someone he liked or someone with connections. I heard he’s been shuffling some 23 year old kid as AMT, AMR, AMQA and now AMFO. Who the hell is this wonder kid and what connections does he have? The area manager must know some of us are very good but we are just enumerators, crew leaders and FOSs. He hasn’t made one good hiring decision yet.

    Stephen Robert Morse: flying in a few good managers across the country and paying their salary in addition to hotel/per diem is worth it.

  31. Buzz in Westchester Says:

    Denver has completed over 90% of their cases, and their enumerators were flown to New York to show us how to do our jobs. Unfortunately, they completed so many cases by not following the rules. In our LCO, we call them the ‘Colorado rules” – proxy on the first visit, use the super to enumerate an apartment building, use the first person you find home on a street to enumerate the whole block … . Here in Westchester we mistakenly thought that accurate data was the goal. Silly us.

  32. Buzz Lightyear Says:

    e.num: same thing in our area for the homeless count.

  33. Buzz Lightyear Says:

    It’s Friday – TGIF! – my area is finishing NRFU.

    To infinity and beyond!

  34. anonymous Says:

    Shame on you SRM. As a journalist you should be digging and reporting careful facts not throwing out a silly number the $411 is only for certain times of the year the max per diem when this travel is occuring is $389. That is just sloppy journalism.

  35. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @anon – ok, it is 389 now, but on july 1 that gets bumped up to 411

  36. pranita veeria Says:

    In a city of 8 million plus…they need to PAY people from other states to come to New York to do a job….interesting…10% unemployment in NY State, and there are no qualified (by Census rules) managers in New York???? Take a look at the incompetence at the ARCM and Area Manager levels…

  37. anonymous Says:

    Taxpayer money wasted – I’m a taxpayer, too! The outside temperature is close to 100 degrees today. And, frankly, I’m p*#@$$ed off! :(

  38. anonymous Says:

    Mandy Reeves, I’m sorry about what happened to you and hope you are in good health. Please call your auto insurance agent and explain to him/her what happened. Sometimes, they can give you a “grace period” for renewing your policy. Best of luck!

  39. joesephine_palookaskinski Says:

    About my FOS being fired…I have no idea why…I think now though, he may have just quit. His buddy was our original AMFO who just one day supposedly quit mid shift. So I’m guessing …Apple not falling too far from the tree

  40. TR Says:

    The way the FOSes are abused by the LCO managers, who are in turn are abused by the regional managers… I don’t blame either of them.

  41. Senseless Says:

    I was reassigned today but luckily it isn’t too far from home.

  42. monicadesi Says:

    The per diem is considerably less expensive then paying office clerks the time to put together applicant lists, put countless hours into making hiring calls, and then spending thousands on new training sessions, background checks and new materials.
    It makes complete sense to instead just relocate workers who have already been hired and trained to a new area to complete the job. They are probably saving millions by doing this.

  43. JAG Says:

    @SRM – ok, it is 389 now, but on july 1 that gets bumped up to 411

    There you go again Stephen, switching numbers…….first you had $150 per night minus per diem for which you claimed a source, then you had $411 also with a source……now you’re saying $389? Just because GSA sets the maximum lodging amount doesn’t mean that’s the amount being paid……as evidenced by your $150 per night source.

  44. California FOS Says:

    Buzz in Westchester: My FOSD has completed 90% of our cases, and we do it right. None of this proxy on the first visit nonsense. Can I volunteer to bring a couple of my crews and myself out there?

    Seriously, why Denver? (And are they really from Denver or are they from the Denver REGION, which is 99% rural and which could mean they actually come from Choteau, Montana, where they don’t even know what a “super” is in an apartment building?) I do see an argument for bringing in trained people from elsewhere rather than hiring new folks this late in the game. But bringing people from Denver to New York City is so wrong on so many levels. Why not Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Baltimore, or some other big city in the Eastern time zone? Some place where the people could stay at home, and take the train to work every day? Some place where the people might at least have SOME idea of what to expect as they walk the streets of NYC?

  45. GS-x Says:

    Buzz in Westchester,

    Looks like we’ll be reading MTC for some time to come, watching to see if New York City or the State of New York sues the Census Bureau for undercounting by enumerators from the Wild West.

  46. pranita veeria Says:

    California FOS…what you state is logical and makes sense….unfortuneately the imbeciles at the NYC RCC don’t think logically nor make sense LOL

  47. Joe schmoe Says:

    Hi All:
    These guys are not only rude– they are liars. I sent in my Census Form and an Idiot shows up at my door saying that it was sent in late. He agrees to come back later at which time he tels me that he checked with the office and I didnt send it in– He forgot that he had previously acknowledged that it was “sent in late”- I immediately informed him of how that is exactly why our taxes and costs for this are so high– I didn’t offer the standard answers. When asked about home ownership I answered– “The bank owns it”– “Hey don’t believe me just tre and miss a few payments– you will find out the bank owns it”– I guess he didnt like my answers as he wrote some code– (which is another lie as I did answer his question. I will have more fun with these bozos if they send another monkey out– Another snappy answer to the fist question– Race?– Answer: human– Hopefully these idiots will get that message that anything past a simple head count at that address is unnecessary and illegal– and why do you need to know how many toilets I have???

  48. monicadesi Says:

    “Hopefully these idiots will get that message that anything past a simple head count at that address is unnecessary and illegal”

    I suggest you Google “US Code: Title 13″.

    While you are at it, look up the court cases of The Legal Tender Cases, Tex.1870 where Congress says the consitutions “does not prohibit the gathering of other statistics, if ‘necessary and proper,’ for the intelligent exercise of other powers enumerated in the constitution” and more recently the 2000 case of Morales v. Daley where the Supreme Court ruled that “Census questions did not violate the Fourth Amendment or other constitutional provisions”.

  49. Queens, NYC Says:

    What’s particularly galling to those of us who actually live in the 5 boroughs of NYC about bringing in out-of-state census workers is that many of us local enumerators would be happy and willing to work in districts that are behind in the NRFU whether they’re in Manhattan or their home boroughs. And we are available NOW. For the cost of some additional local travel time and the cost of $4.50 round trip on mass transit, I’m sure we can “blitz” with the best of them. It would also be a lot cheaper than “importing” out-of-state crews. And if there weren’t enough of us “locals” to do the job, at least fewer out-of-state crews would be needed.

    I trained in the last week of April and other than the training week, have never worked more than 20 hours a week–and that was only 1 week. For the other 4 weeks I worked I averaged 13 hours a week. (The addresses were in co-op and rental apartment buildings on my block or across the street so “travel time” was about 10 minutes for each day.) I finished three binders and the EQs were done “by the book.” MY CL told us May 20 that the FOS didn’t know when or if any more binders were coming in. I’m guessing that my district was completed or winding down, and from the info my CL shared so were several others. She tried to get the more productive crew members, including myself, reassigned to districts that she knew were behind. But that didn’t happen.

    Meanwhile, my friend working the NRFU in Manhattan had been instructed that everyone had to work every day of the Memorial Day Weekend. The LCO was planning to blitz the area. A day later she was instructed to hand in her binder and EQs to her CL. So there’s been no work as of the holiday weekend. Then the news broke about the Denver crews coming in. The local crews were livid. Many of them spent weeks cultivating supers and doormen to get their cooperation for the NRFU. Good luck to the Denver crews when they have to deal with NYC doormen and supers!

    This week a few EQs had been reassigned to me to revisit so I was in touch with my CL. The day after receiving the EQs my CL called at 7:00 p.m. to say that she had been instructed to collect all outstanding binders and EQs and to deliver them to the local office by 10:00 p.m. The LCO was planning a “blitz.” I do not know the extent of the “recall” or who will be “blitzing” Queens. I’m sitting here at my computer on a Sunday afternoon so I don’t think I’m part of the “blitz.”

    I’ve read the posts here and for other articles with interest and sympathy. I do believe a census is needed and can be worthwhile. I signed up because I thought I’d be doing something worthwhile and, like many of us who are unemployed, making a few dollars. From my admittedly personal point of view of the process, the enumerators and CLs and other field personnel are really trying to do a good job. But the incompetence and mismanagement and just plain stupidity at the mid- and upper levels of the Census hierarchy is truly astounding. They’d be fired in a NY minute in private business.

  50. pranita veeria Says:

    “But the incompetence and mismanagement and just plain stupidity at the mid- and upper levels of the Census hierarchy is truly astounding. They’d be fired in a NY minute in private business.”

    Queens NYC…you hit it on the head!!! The fools that run NYC RCC and the Area Managers employed are the biggest crop of incompetents in any job arena. They panic, then re-cant, then panic again, then hold “emergency conference calls” with absolutely no agenda….and the topper is always the “threat” to bring in outsiders….

  51. lagirl Says:

    @ Joe S: You are a good excuse for getting a proxy.

  52. ballsavage Says:

    @joes: Here is my suggestion to you and everyone like you that thinks the Census is too invasive. Leave your mother’s basement, get involved/active in your community, and try to change the questions that are asked. If they don’t get changed, realize that you live in a democratic society and that when the majority decides things should be one way, you get to go along with it. You are not a majority. The world doesn’t revolve around you unless you convince it that it should.

    also, i’m pretty sure that when you fill in “human” for the race question, some government statistician uses your answer as a +1 for whatever race is below their projections. keep stickin it to the man, brutha.

  53. Anon 23 Says:

    @NCtoNYC, the rules change in New York based on who you know and talk to. If you’re not Guyanese you won’t get any attention in Administration. Try again waving a Guyanese flag and they’ll take you lol

  54. Anon 23 Says:

    @pranita veeria, you are right, New York leadership sucks and they wouldn’t be hired in private industry. They wouldn’t even make the interview

  55. pranita veeria Says:

    @ Anon 23…you are soooo right. The Guyanese flag??? How i love that LOL

  56. anonymous Says:

    Favoritism – in New York and throughout the U.S.

  57. pranita veeria Says:

    Update… LCOM was asked to resign because of an EEO complaint he made towards Partnership…..he was told “officially” it was because of low production…your government dollars at work

  58. My Two Census » Blog Archive » In Nebraska, workers are shifted between Omaha and Lincoln at a tremendous cost to taxpayers Says:

    [...] Omaha World-Herald has taken on an issue that I have written about extensively in recent weeks. How does the Census Bureau justify the costs of workers traveling large distances [...]

  59. anonymous 2 Says:

    where can we go to make complaints thhat will get action done about this they people in the position know it is just temporay and by the time a written complaint get in it will be over and the money will already be in their pockets

  60. anonymous 2 Says:

    this i a good place to vent might even be run by the censue lol but how can we get action