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.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: This hire is ok, but a dangerous trend

Yesterday, a press release from the Census Bureau detailed the hiring of Roderick Little, who will join the U.S. Census Bureau as the new associate director for statistical methodology and standards. The report states, “Little is the Richard D. Remington Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and chaired the Biostatistics Department from 1993 to 2001 and 2006 to 2009. He is also professor of statistics and research professor at University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.” After speaking with statisticians and those familiar with Dr. Little’s work, I am confident that he is an excellent hire for the Census Bureau. My qualm with this hire is that Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves, who studied and worked at the University of Michigan, is bringing in his friends to work for the Census Bureau rather than creating the open, transparent, and fair government that President Obama promised long ago. In the short-term, this hire is fine, but if the Census Bureau starts to look like the University of Michigan faculty club rather than a government agency, my eyebrows will be raised, and yours should be too.

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6 Responses to “MyTwoCensus Editorial: This hire is ok, but a dangerous trend”

  1. Anonymous Says:


  2. Anon 23 Says:

    Newsflash! Its not what you know, but who you know, even in the federal government!!!!!

  3. BTK census worker Says:

    So what else is new I got a new boss and then 3 new people came into my area from where else the office where my new boss came from Not very news worthy is it. Besides Census and Uof M in michigan and maryland have a special relationship as premiere statistical organizations so no one should be surprised but rather welcome the expertice This new guy is no light weight crony This is not a GW Bush guy afterall

  4. GS-X Says:

    BTK census worker, you must sit near me at Census HQ. I have seen the same kind hiring of friends.
    Your post about cronyism at the politicized Census Bureau is newsworthy!
    Not your fault the MSM missed it! Taxpayers need to know that hiring and promotion based on merit
    ended long ago at the Census Bureau. Cronyism is not benign.
    Look at the result–a screwed up 2010 Census.

    There are people in the United States and other countries who have done census research.
    Professor Little isn’t one of them. Without any disrespect for the fine survey methodology research Little has done, the arrogant Professor Little is the data cosmetician Groves needs. When criticism of the 2010 Census pours in, Groves will need a friend to cover his back.

    If Groves intended to hire someone to plan the 2020 Census, he would have picked someone younger than Rod Little.

    With others, Professor Little has already been planning a survey-based study of Census 2000 methods that may not tell us much about the chaos of the 2010 Census. Go to Not exactly an independent study.
    Yes, we now return to the subject of sampling, not as a substitute for enumeration, but as a means of evaluating or whitewashing the 2010 Census.

  5. DVR Says:

    @GS-X Why do you say that the panel examining Census 2000 is not independent? The National Academy of Science, which is publishing the study, is one of the preeminant research bodies in the United States (and the world). Are you implying that the NAS is improperly influenced by the Census Bureau? Do you have proof of this influence?

    The Census Bureau executes many surveys that rely on sampling. They need expertise in designing the sample design for these surveys. Maybe Little provides that expertise.

  6. GS-X Says:

    DVR, I used to think of the National Academies with unquestioning regard.

    Professor Little is one of the experts on the panel. We know he and Director Robert Groves go way back.
    Did Groves hire Little because Little’s views oppose his? Probably not.

    The last time I looked at the web site for the National Academies project on Census Coverage Measurement,
    it did not reveal the sponsor (source of funding). SRM could try to find out if the Census Bureau is paying for this project. Did Director Robert Groves make the decision to have the National Academies panel work on this Census Coverage Measurement project?

    Do the statistical luminaries on this panel know or care what goes on in 2010 Census LCOs?
    If you put a random sample of 2010 Census Enumerators, CLAs, Clerks and other Field staff in a room
    with these experts, would everyone agree on the quality of the 2010 Census?
    Betcha they won’t invite any Enumerators and Clerks to their private meetings.

    Yes, the Census Bureau needs expertise, even with sampling. But this project deals only with one special survey, 2010 Census Complete Coverage Measurement, not the many other surveys.