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.

Citizen Journalists: Census Bureau employees completing forms at fast food locales when residents are not around, a citizen journalism site that I wrote a couple of pieces for about the 2010 Census, published the following story from Houston. Is this going on elsewhere too? Thanks to Stephen Dean in Houston for the following:

While stopping in for a quick sandwich, people are seeing what they call suspicious behavior by US Census Bureau ‘enumerators’ throughout the Houston area.
Workers are opening up personal census questionnaires and then filling in box after box, sometimes seeming to fill in every entry on some forms.   Other times, the workers are seen opening up the forms and erasing entries and then marking in new entries.
In one northwest Houston fast food restaurant, a security guard who was on his lunch break spotted what looked like a group of census workers feverishly filling in other people’s forms so he confronted them.   He also called an investigative reporting team.
The man said it didn’t seem right that these door-to-door census workers would be filling in personal questionnaires without the citizens being present.  He said it defeats the entire purpose of having enumerators going door to door to get an accurate count.
When he confronted the workers off the West Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8) at Victory, he said one worker answered that census workers had to finish filling in the forms because citizens weren’t doing it.
But the security guard, who asked that his name not be divulged, said it seemed as though as many as a dozen of the Census workers had gathered in that restaurant to fill in forms so that they could shorten their workday by making fewer actual door to door trips.
He said he felt the 2010 Census would be inaccurate if workers are handed a stack of addresses to visit and they instead filled out the forms themselves without ever knocking on the doors.
The man wondered if it was happening elsewhere.
Sure enough, a woman in The Woodlands notified the investigative reporting team on the KPRC Local 2 Facebook page that she saw the exact same thing happening near her home, and what she overheard was troubling to her.
The woman wrote in her Facebook message,
These census workers were talking about a coworker who was making up information about the people they were trying to contact rather than actually doing the job to accurately document the information.”
She wrote that it seemed like these workers, at the Whataburger on Sawdust near I-45 in The Woodlands, had no plans on turning the person in.  They just seemed to be lamenting the fact that they were working with a deadbeat.
For that witness as well, it raises flags about the accuracy of the 2010 Census.   She wrote,
I use the census from years ago to help me with my genealogy research.  Overhearing that conversation did not make me happy to know that the information might not be accurate.”
The investigative team sent hidden camera crews into both restaurants and found the groups of census workers, sitting in the exact places that the tipsters described.
On the westside, hidden cameras were rolling as 8 different workers arrived in separate cars and started spreading out personal census forms on the tables.
One woman carted in a large plastic crate full of paperwork.
At times, the workers were doing what you’d expect them to do.   They were opening up forms and examining them, and then entering the responses provided by citizens into a master notebook.  In other words, the master notebook was the only thing in which they were making entries, looking down at the personal census forms and then logging the answers that were already entered with the citizens present.
Other times, different stacks of census forms were opened up and the workers started filling in box after box after box by themselves, as the hidden camera was rolling.
Eduardo Guity, the Houston spokesman for the Commerce Department’s US Census Bureau, insisted that no workers were filling in the forms themselves.  He also said that workers were not changing entries on the personal census forms, despite what was captured by the hidden cameras and despite what citizens have reported in separate parts of the Houston area.
In an e-mail, Guity said enumerators were merely involved in checking the accuracy of the forms that had been filled out at citizens’ homes.   He said, at this stage in the census count, citizens aren’t supposed to be filling out the personal census forms themselves.   He said that was done during the mail-in portion of this year’s count.   At this stage in the process, he said it’s up to the enumerators to fill in the forms.
He suggested that the concerned citizens and the hidden cameras were merely seeing workers correcting the entries after visiting the houses and apartments they are supposed to be counting.
When confronted by a reporter with a full TV camera crew, the census workers on the West Belt at Victory said they were not allowed to comment.    One woman, who identified herself as the supervisor, said they were not fudging the forms by making up answers themselves without visiting the homes.   She said they weren’t doing anything improper.   She said they were doing what they are supposed to be doing.
At The Woodlands location, a reporter approached one census worker when he was alone to inquire about the conversation that had been overheard about fudging the census forms.  He said the comment must have been misunderstood.  He said any accusation of falsifying census forms is dealt with quickly.
Census workers say there are restaurants designated as meeting spots for their field crews all over the United States.
This raises another issue about privacy.   Census policy requires strict privacy for all census information, and yet a reporter was able to read names and addresses on forms in these restaurant meeting spots.    The reporter also overheard names, addresses,  and phone numbers being repeated back and forth between census workers, sometimes with specific household details being uttered out loud.
The reporter would have been able to write down names, phone numbers, addresses, and numbers of people living in homes on several different occasions during these meetings.
Since each restaurant rallying point is specific to a certain area, the reporter heard names and addresses of people who lived near the restaurants, so it would be possible for anyone in those restaurants to harvest the same information.
In some cases, Census workers were overheard stating a person’s name and address and then mentioning that the person does not arrive home from work until after a certain time.   In one case, a census worker said he had been trying to knock on the door of a particular address that he uttered out loud, but a neighbor informed him that the family was away on vacation.
That means that, instead of a reporter, it could have been a burglar hearing these government workers blurting out names and addresses of vacant homes.

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65 Responses to “Citizen Journalists: Census Bureau employees completing forms at fast food locales when residents are not around”

  1. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    OK, SRM, I’m calling you on this one.

    This is pure, unadulterated horsehit.

    I’m not going to waste a lot of words on this one. What those people were doing in those fast-food restaurants was exactly the same thing that me and my fellow enumerators were doing (lastly, for me at least, at a local Macdonalds): correcting our EQs and cleaning them up, getting them ready to turn in. Eliminating stray marks. Making sure we had everything filled in correctly. Adding notes in the “Notes” sections. Checking that our letters and numbers were made correctly so that the scanners could read them.

    You really do reach to the bottom of the barrel to come up with that you consider to be high-road muckraking journalism, don’t you?

  2. Enumerator123 Says:

    That article full of shit. The author no idea what was going on. There are many reasons we would be writing in an EQ. There are reasons why we’d be filling out multiple EQs. For example, we might have gotten a vacancy list from an apartment manager and have to fill out EQs for each vacant unit. One time, I had a situation where over 30 apartments in this one complex had the wrong address listed and didn’t get forms in the mail. It had, say, 540 Whatever St. instead of the correct 340 Whatever St. for part of the complex. I had to fill out the EQs with the wrong address and delete them, then add the correct ones and enumerate every single one of those apartments in person. (Of course, it couldn’t be something as simple as just correcting the address on the original EQ; the LCO said to delete the wrong addresses and then add the right ones.) This makes me glad that my crew met at a church that donated space instead of in public.

  3. Census Worker in Houston Says:

    Where does the beltway cross Victory?

  4. Dean Says:

    “But the security guard, who asked that his name not be divulged, said it seemed as though as many as a dozen of the Census workers had gathered in that restaurant to fill in forms so that they could shorten their workday by making fewer actual door to door trips.”

    This doesn’t jive with the fact that enumerators are paid by the hour and not by the case.

  5. anonymiss Says:

    I did this myself at McDonalds when I had a whole binder of units that were actually vacation rentals of a nightly or weekly sort. I varified the units with the rental manager and then went and wrote all of them out completely. It would have been rude to occupy her entire morning while I filled them out one at time in her office.

    This is not really news

  6. MotleyCrewLeader Says:

    I echo the sentiments of all here so far. Wouldnt it be nice if people justy filled out the EQs and we just turned them in. It doesnt work that way.

    First there is info on the forms that we have to make sure is checked and that has nothing to do with information given.

    second erasing is part of the process. mistakes are made or information changes. A prime example. I am a crew leader. many times an enumerator will put the wrong notice of visit info.

    there are so many reasons to correct a form that to explain to the uninitiated would be a waste of time.

    Perhaps the next story should be how all the lazy,cheating enumerators, who fudge their numbers have a bad habbit of meeting at fast food resteraunts….oh wait thats suppose to be this story.

  7. Anonymous Says:


  8. pranita veeria Says:

    Did anyone ever think of doing this behind closed doors??? To do this in public, whether innocent or not, creates the image of falsification, fraud etc…… It’s called common sense

  9. MotleyCrewLeader Says:

    Behind whos closed doors?

    The job of doing the census is extremely stressful. You have a group of complete strangers randomly thrown together to do arguably one of the most important federal projects.

    Lets say you have a FoS district composed of 8 crew lwaders, who are each responsible for 7-12 enumerators. At the end of the day payroll needs to be sighned and turned in to the local LCO and each days numbers need to be tallied to be forwarded to the FOS. EQs need to be protected.

    Logisticly speaking public areas are used because those are the only areas that can accomidate such a large group of people.

    THAT is common sense.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    As a fan of this blog, I am very disappointment to see it sullied with nonsense like this ridiculous, misinformed, misleading story.

  11. nerfoo Says:

    Oh, for goodness sake… If I took the time to carefully fill out every single box, with the properly formed letters, erasing stray marks, filling out deletes & adds there at the occupant’s doorstep, they’d be complaining that I was taking up too much of their time at their door.

    I fill them out with the occupants, quickly and sloppily, so that I can let them get on with their busy days. Then, later, make them pretty enough for the genealogists of the future (and the computer scanners of today) to be able to read them.

  12. Patriciad Says:

    we are told that the scanner system needs very neat letters and numbers, and recommends that they are written in a certain way. while standing at someones door collecting information you don’t always get the luxury of writing as neatly as you need to. for me that means some letter and number erasing and rewriting while waiting my turn with our crew leader. why wait until i’m at mcd’s? correcting these forms while I am waiting my turn is better than doing nothing with that time. why meet at mcdonalds? for our rural team, it’s a great central location, saving the government money in time and mileage.

  13. CLA Dave Says:

    Erasing/correcting, adding notes etc. is a necessary part of the job. It should not, however, be done in a manner which allows citizens to see or hear PII. I do it at home or sitting in my car, not in a crowded public place.

  14. MiddleOfNowhereCL Says:

    I have to agree with nearly every other commenter. This is standard practice for everyone doing things the RIGHT way. I spend hours every week meeting with enumerators, fixing EQs by erasing and rewriting entries, or filling every one of a list which, at the door, only the first is checked. Including this as news says less about the Census than it does about the lack of understanding of those running this website. There’s enough crap going on for you to report on, you don’t need to promulgate this kind of nonsense.

  15. another annonymous Says:

    Agreed with everyone else. Yeah, maybe restaurants aren’t the best location. But it sounds to me like it was just usual auditing and correcting. If these reporters are so concerned about privacy, why are they filming it and posting it on youtube!?

  16. Dixter Says:

    Pathetic. Did the reporter even ask the enumerators what was happening? He or she obviously did not understand the work process.
    Then this blog repeats all of the above errors again. Sloppy reporting.

  17. pranita veeria Says:

    Hey Motley…completing payroll (D 308)forms and editing EQ’s are two different things….displaying PII information in a public place (McDonald’s, Diner, brothel..whatever) not only is poor practice but creates the “image’ that information by respondents is being changed….try doing it when it’s received, and not in a “group” setting….c’mon…it’s called management

  18. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    Hey pranita veeria: You know damn well that public places, like Starbucks, McDonalds, etc., are typically the only places available for crew leaders to meet their enumerators. We don’t have the luxury of having non-public meeting places away from prying eyes, as you seem to imply. These establishments are the only ones willing to put up with daily meetings of crews without kicking them out.

    And even though such meetings are being held in such public places, the chance of PII being compromised are actually very small. We (CLs and enumerators) aren’t idiots. We know how important it is to maintain confidentiality, so we take reasonable, common-sense precautions so that non-Census people don’t have access to PII.

    You know all this, yet you, like S.R. Morse, insist in continually stirring the pot, trying to smear the Census by throwing shit against the wall and seeing what sticks.

    Which is a pity, because since stories like this reduce the credibility of this site to pretty much zero, the few stories here that are important and which should be investigated are just lost in the noise and dust.

    Good job.

  19. pranita veeria Says:

    @Yet Another Enumerator….using credibility and Census in the same sentence doesn’t fit…and as far as securing less trafficked meeting places, did you ever look at the training spaces that were used for testing? Or did the AMR/LCOM’s that you experienced didn’t have the foresight to do so…it’s called managing the process…considering that the salry starts at $26 bucks on up, I would think that that these “managers” would come up with a better plan to safeguard information.. of course, as we experiencved here in the NYC area, that’s asking too much

  20. anonymous Says:

    It depends on the Census worker. There are excellent enumerators who demonstrate a wonderful work ethic. On the other hand, there are unethical, dishonest, cheating Census workers (a lot of them).


  21. Ena Umerator Says:

    I have to agree with most people on here. You have to clean the EQs up and make sure all the info is filled in. Some of it, you can write in later, so you aren’t in the Resp. space for too long. Things like the Resp. Info on the back.

  22. blue Says:

    Enough has been said about the necsessity of cleaning up the EQs so the PBOCS can scan them. Between going over the info, making sure we print in the appropriate style, and adding notes, we have a lot of reaosn to be filling in and cleaning up Eqs.

    Census crews need to meet in spaces large enough to accomdate 5-20 people. Unfortunately there are no funds to pay for a private meeting space. The crews either have to use donated space in a town hall, or community center. If that is not available then crews need to use public areas like Subway’s or McD’s.

    Done properly PII can be protected even in public spaces. Not leaving the information unattended, not saying addresses, names, or numbers out loud etc. I have had entire conversations in public spaces without revealing PII.

    I do understand how it might appear to be a violation. So now its been explained on my 2 census perhaps that can be corrected publicly by my 2 census.

    I do understand how people might slip and acidentally reveal PII, like a name or street address. For the 2020 Census there should be specific training on how to have a meeting without revealing PII accidentally.

  23. MInchoww Says:

    These people that are reporting seeing census takers changing information need to get the facts before trying to get their 15 minutes of fame. Just as everyone else has stated the forms need to be neat for the computer to read. All the letters much be legible, no stray marks on the paper and everything must be checked for accuracy. Give me a break, everyone wants to find fault with the process. As a crew leader I know that my people are going over their work not only at the end of the but also during the day when they have some time to do it either at a coffee shop, fast food place or even in the library. people check your facts before reporting something you think you saw.

  24. anonymous Says:

    Unprofessional. No personal, private info for respondents should be out there for public viewing/listening. Even a public library! You can reserve a private study/reading room in the library, work at home or in your car, a private room. Fast food places are the worst — think about identity theft! You’ve been intrusted with personal info.

  25. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    To that last “anonymous”, it sounds as if you don’t actually work for the Census. If you did, you’d realize that what you’re saying can’t possibly apply to crew meetings, which is what is being discussed here. The Census does not have a budget to pay for private meeting places. Remember, these meetings take place every day, and must be able to acommodate potentially an entire crew plus crew leader (up to about 20 people).

    The only reasonable choice, which every single crew I’ve seen here and read about elsehere, is to meet in some publicly accessible place, typically a Starbucks, a MacDonalds, a local cafe, or some similar place.

    Yes, there is a chance that PII (personally identifiable information) might be disclosed, but it’s a very small chance. Remember, we are all trained, and our training stresses the importance of maintaining confidentiality (including penalties for failing to do so). If you actually observe a census crew leader meeting, you’ll see that people, by and large, take this seriously.

    So this article that S.R. Morse posted is just a lot of unnecessary smoke being blown by people ignorant about how the Census works.

  26. MotleyCrewLeader Says:

    pranita veeria Says:

    June 14th, 2010 at 1:09 pm
    Hey Motley…completing payroll (D 308)forms and editing EQ’s are two different things….displaying PII information in a public place (McDonald’s, Diner, brothel..whatever) not only is poor practice but creates the “image’ that information by respondents is being changed….try doing it when it’s received, and not in a “group” setting….c’mon…it’s called management

    What exactly is your experience with the census operation? Or do you speak from ignorance. Your like the fat fitness instructor telling folks how to burn calories.

  27. pranita veeria Says:

    Try again Motley….I worked for the Census so I know what I speak….can’t say the same about you though

  28. anonymous Says:

    YAE, a FREE, reserved ahead of time, private meeting room for crew meetings – library, church, community center, school, courtesy hotel banquet room, etc.

  29. anonymous Says:

    YAE, think of identity theft. There are snooping people who actually hover around Starbucks and McDonalds tables hoping to listen to your cell phone conversation, personal conversations, etc., trying to get personal/financial info. We are intrusted to protect personal, private info of our respondents.

  30. Toy Story 3 Fan Says:

    Yet Another Enumerator, what will our great grandchildren think 72 years from now about the accuracy of this 2010 Census? Is it truly accurate with some Enumerators/CL/CLA going through the EQs and changing answers?!

  31. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    @Toy Story 3 Fan: With all due respect: you’re an idiot.

    Nobody’s “changing” EQs. Oh, yeah, I get it: all those people hanging out at Mickey Dee’s, you know–the ones who never buy anything there–are just wasting time, on the government dime, and just making up stuff to put in their EQs. Totally fabricated information.

    It sounds as if you don’t work for the census, and don’t know how it works either.

  32. Samantha Jackson Says:

    Good grief. I believe there is mention of meeting in such public places during training. This is a whole bunch of noise about nothing.

  33. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    Absolutely there was mention during training that we would be meeting in public places. We were told to take common-sense precautions to avoid revealing PII in such situations (keep forms covered when not being used, etc.).


  34. Enumerate this Says:

    Folks, don’t get on Morse’s case for posting this story. He’s just the messenger. And it’s a story that people clearly have an interest in judging by the many comments in a short period of time.

    Others have listed the many legitimate reasons an enumerator might work on a form. But large groups of enumerators doing this in the same place every day shows poor judgment because it gives the appearance of impropriety. Those enumerators in Houston probably weren’t doing anything wrong, but it looked wrong to the common man.

    That’s why, as an enumerator, I always “worked on” my forms discreetly, alone, and at a variety of places and times. Sometimes, even, a place where cold beer was available. But -never- in a fashion where I would open myself to accusations of wrongdoing.

    As for crew meeting sites, it depends on the CL and the circumstances. Because my first CL was lazy, we met in the middle of a public library. She didn’t want to set up the tables in the private free library meeting room, you see. And because my CL was slow, five or six enumerators would stack up waiting to check in their EQ. While they waited, they talked (loudly) about all kinds of details of their experiences. PII flowed like water.

    My second CL held meetings in a private free meeting room at his church. Perfect. Discreet. Quiet.

    I know it’s different in big cities, but if I were a CL almost anyplace else I would scrap like crazy to get a private room somewhere, even if I had to pay a little bit out of pocket to make it happen. i.e. “Tipping” the IHOP manager $10 a day to let us use the back room.

    Those Houston enumerators did nothing wrong, but they were asking for trouble by working for extended periods of time together in big groups.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    I didn’t read every single comment above, but as an enumerator I have to agree with most of what is being said. I am pretty clean on my EQs when I do them the first time. I don’t have to corrector erase that much info. I know others in my crew do need to do this. There are lots of situations that would call for this. Our area is really really windy. Sometimes it is really hard to write legibly at the door, some people just have bad handwriting. I was reassigned several EQs from former crew members that could never be turned in as they were. In addition some people make mistakes or forget to check an obvious box. I do my corrections usually in my car before I turn in my EQs, but some people like having more space and a table. As for the public places I know others have already explained that we are not afforded the benefit of having a private meeting places. We are able to meet in the local places that will have us. This operation loves to blow money, but it just isn’t feasible to have a private place for us to meet. We along with most other crews I’m sure always find a corner in the back of the coffee shop or fast food place so we aren’t in the way and are in the most private place. The first day in the field my crew leader warned us about erasing and correcting EQs in public places since many people would assume the worst of us. I didn’t think we had to really worry until I saw this article.

  36. Enumerate this Says:

    Also: If I were a census employee pictured in that video, I would consult with an experienced media law attorney about whether they have a cause for libel. The employees are clearly identifiable, and the story accuses them of “fudging citizen forms.”

    From the AP Stylebook’s Libel Manual, an excellent general reference:

    “Libel is injury to reputation.

    “Words, pictures or cartoons that expose a person to public hatred, shame, disgrace or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person are libelous.

    “Actions for civil libel result mainly from news stories that allege crime, fraud, dishonesty, immoral or dishonorable conduct, or stories that defame the subject professionally, causing financial loss either personally or to a business.

    “There is only one complete and unconditional defense to a civil action for libel: that the facts stated are PROVABLY TRUE. (Note well that word, PROVABLY.) Quoting someone correctly is not enough. The important thing is to be able to satisfy a jury that the libelous statement is substantially correct.”

    So unless the enumerators really were cooking the books, those two folks who are pictured for seven minutes simply doing their jobs may have a legitimate beef.

    (There may also be a privacy issue — videotaping and audiotaping people without their consent on private property — but those laws vary greatly from state to state. No idea what the law is in Texas.)

  37. California FOS Says:

    As a FOS, I had a few crew leader meetings at a local restaurant (I’m not big on fast food, so I used a local diner/coffee shop that I’m partial to), but generally I had folks bring their binders, EQs, 308s, and other PII to me at my home. I encouraged my crew leaders in turn to do the same with their crews. I did have a couple who went the fast-food-joint route, but they picked places that were generally empty during the times of day they were in there. One crew used a local mall that is all but deserted (there are maybe 5 stores left in it, and the spot this crew met in was in an out of the way area that nobody ever walks through). It is possible, but difficult, to have meetings where people are passing EQs back and forth and not have some degree of PII leaking out in conversation.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Enumerate this is right. It depends on where you live and whether or not your CL will find a private, secure meeting place for your crew.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    Excellent article!

  40. don't take sides Says:

    yet another enumerator 6/14/10 10:48 pm: you’re a good example of a gainfully employed, hard-working census crew leader, supervisor, manager …..

  41. notsoamused Says:

    My CL meetings took place at a Starbucks. I was very uncomfortable in a public setting to be discussing PPI. People sometimes forget where they are and blurt out information that should not be released. I took great care to keep my voice level down but some did not. What concerned me is I took it upon myself to find a more secure and free meeting room in a county building. I gave the info to my CL who apparently did not even try to contact anyone regarding the room. Secondly, in defense of the Enumerators it is all about making sure all “x’s” are within the box and just finishing up the EQ and making sure a binder entry has been made.

  42. Enumerator USA Says:

    My crew has been meeting in a local supermarket, in their small eating area. Another crew has been meeting there as well. Most of the time we have the area to ourselves because we meet so early.

    We spend time reviewing EQ’s. Did I fill this one in right? No, that doesn’t belong there, we need to put that somewhere else, or do an info-com. So then the EQ is modified, there in the supermarket, not at somebody’s home. Information is re-written, and other information is erased. What do I do with this filled out questionnaire that a resident handed me? You put the information from that onto the EQ that you have. So then the EQ is filled in, there in the supermarket, not at somebody’s home. An enumerator has really bad handwriting, and I can’t figure out what he wrote. It needs to be fixed so the computer can read it or it will come back. Lots of erasing and rewriting of individual letters and numerals. Are we being subversive or lazy? Hardly. Are we being careless with PII? No, as long as we are careful to avoid it being seen by other shoppers or security guards.

    I’d suggested meeting at the public library for a free meeting space, but then you are required to allow the public to sit in on your meeting. Of course we couldn’t have that. Where else could we meet for free? Not many choices!

  43. anonymous Says:

    RE: public libraries – if you can’t reserve a private study/reading room, ask the Director or Head Librarian for a private classroom/research room/private board room, etc. Even the most smallest libraries have them.

  44. Maiasaura Says:

    Not only does this article stink, but it attracted wanna-be-journalists to come to our meeting place and listen in on us. Very annoying, and without the proper context, they can’t possibly understand what we are doing.

  45. Dairyland CL Says:

    anonymous RE public libraries: We have a small town library and the available rooms are booked weeks in advance. Libraries also demand quiet. My crew got yelled at for noise and crowded parking. They could be empty of patrons and still snotty.

  46. Hatta Rayga Says:

    if would-be journalists dropped by to listen in on you.. you had a definite responsibility to MOVE the entire group and readjust your work plans. There is no requirement that all of a crew meet wiht the CL at oen time. Certainly this may save the CL time, but spreading out the meetings by meeting with only 3 at a time would make the meeting sgo more quickly; keep voice tone down adn thus reduce possibility of what did indeed happen- charges of misconduct.

    There is NO reason to continue what is bad publicity and to allow journalists to listen and possibly see PII.

  47. OurNationHasLostItsWay Says:

    The enumerators in my crew have been generally honest and hardworking. However, I’ve seen many cases of incompetence in other crews as I’ve QA their work. I’ve run across a complete day of fraudulent work that was shrugged off in spite of five separate evidences. 1) All EQ’s were marked NV and the average time between NVs (in an apartment complex) was 7-10 minutes!! 2) None of the NV’s were there the next day when I took over the binder. 3) Five addresses told me they had not found an NV on their door. 4) Three of them said they were home all day. 5) The next day, my NV’s were there on all vacancies and a couple of occupied apartments. I was told the person had quit after that last day of imaginary work. The crew leader did not seek to recall the fraudulent paysheet.

    Now, work is being assigned piecemeal with several enumerators hitting the same exact streets They are being told to simply leave NVs with Title 13 statements. No neighbor proxies are to be sought until the sixth visit. I was assigned work seven miles from my home, while another crew was brought in to enumerate my very street. Silly meetings and work are being assigned to CL and CLAs just to generate hours. When I called an enumerator who had left two NV’s at a vacant home across from me, he was somewhat disappointed as he wanted to milk the six visits for time and mileage. I wonder if he will actually turn in the completed EQ with myself as neighbor proxy for the vacancy. ???

    All taxpayers should be extremely upset with the Census Bureau and by extension, all of our Federal Government for misusing taxpayer funds.

  48. W Says:

    Enumerators are at the bottom of the food chain. They do what they are told by their Crew Leaders, and bear no responsibility for where the work is done. If the Census Bureau wanted all the work done in private out of public view, they should provide private work places.

  49. anonymous Says:

    OurNationHasLostItsWay, you are right. What you’ve witnessed during quality control verification has also occurred in my LCO.

  50. Enumerator USA Says:

    Re. library meeting spaces: In our area due to budget cutbacks our library branches don’t often open until 10:30 a.m. or later, especially on certain days of the week, which vary from branch to branch, and close either at 6 p.m. or at 8 or 9 p.m., which again varies from day to day. Most are closed on Sundays, some on Mondays as well. By comparison the local supermarkets are open 7 days a week, from 6 a.m. until 10 or 11 p.m. That gives us a wide range of reliable meeting space availability, and parking is never an issue. As long as we stay off of the prime dining times – lunchtime and dinner hour – we usually have the place to ourselves. Except for other crews.

  51. Enumerator USA Says:

    Plus there are far more supermarkets around than there are library branches.

  52. MidwestCL Says:

    One of the most frustrating things about Census work for me is that there is no designated office space for CL’s to meet with enumerators. It’s not like a normal business where I can call a meeting, and 10 minutes later, everyone shows up in a conference room on-site. Due to this, we have to arrange our meetings in public places many times. Restaurants are easily located and have plenty of seating. I always order food or at least if we meet in a restaurant, since we are taking up a table (although it’s never been standing room only in any place we’ve met).

    It’s possible to meet in a public place and not disclose PII. I don’t even read info from the EQ’s aloud in most cases, and if I do, I speak in generalities rather than in specifics (i.e. “this gentleman should be listed as a Census Day resident even if he was away on vacation at the time.”). I talked about this in enumerator training, about keeping EQ info on the Q.T. in public places and using discretion when speaking. Didn’t seem to have any problems with that during NRFU.

    My CLA’s and I have met in our homes with enumerators at times, but this isn’t always convenient as we have spouses/children, who also aren’t supposed to hear PII, and it’s sometimes burdensome on our families to have business being conducted in the home.

    As for the filling in EQ’s in restaurants, erasing, etc., that’s all part of the job. Enumerators may get a phone callback and do a blank EQ on the fly, then transpose the info to the “real” EQ when they get to a place to write it out. Also, sometimes respondent info may be written roughly or in haste while at a doorstep (who wants to detain an impatient homeowner while you write *every letter* perfectly?) and the EQ needs to be “cleaned up” (with no info changed) before turning in.

    I would say the person who observed this really had no idea what was going on, and likely was looking for some “scandal” to blame on census takers. (Unless, of course, security guard training also includes detailed descriptions of what census takers should or should not be doing..LOL)

  53. Lisa Says:

    As a US Citizen- I agree with Stephen. My Census information does not need to be sent to a restaurant parking lot. Title 13? Take the time to find a private room!

    Also, please don’t eat while on the clock. It’s misappropriation of time- wait until your break.

  54. Arpad Golgoth Says:

    I got a 95 on the test. The proctor seemed excited by this. They wanted me to be a supervisor. Then they told me I had a criminal record when I do not. They would not tell me what I did, or when or where I did it, just that I had to prove to them that I didn’t do it. Like the guy in the Trial by Kafka. Then I heard about about a class action suit vs. the census bureau by lots of people who had the same thing happen to them. I emailed the law firm that was handling it and sent them all the documentation in support of my story. A barely intelligible black woman called me back and asked me if I was a white man. I said yes. She said I could not be part of the suit because I was a white man and hung up. What happened to this country?

  55. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    @Arpad Golgoth: Sorry, your story sounds fishy to me.

    Not saying it couldn’t happen, just that it sounds unlikely.

  56. PA Confidential Says:

    By opening an EQ in a public place, and having a security guard walk up on a group of 8 of ya doing it, is clearly not protecting PII.

    I have NO DOUBT that the guard could have read a first name or address, or even both on an open EQ, in a matter of a fraction of a second, thus compromising the person’s confidentiality.

    pranita veeria is right, as are many others. In part, this sums it up the best:
    (courtesy of Hatta Rayga on June 15th, 2010 at 7:50 pm)

    if would-be journalists dropped by to listen in on you.. you had a definite responsibility to MOVE the entire group and readjust your work plans. There is no requirement that all of a crew meet wiht the CL at oen time. Certainly this may save the CL time, but spreading out the meetings by meeting with only 3 at a time would make the meeting sgo more quickly; keep voice tone down adn thus reduce possibility of what did indeed happen- charges of misconduct.

    There is NO reason to continue what is bad publicity and to allow journalists to listen and possibly see PII.

    PA Con

  57. Census Worker in Houston Says:

    @ Arpad Golgoth – SAME EXACT THING happened to my husband

  58. just an enumerator Says:

    Lisa, I agree with you.

    Arpad Golgoth, what happened to you is called discrimination.

  59. STJ Says:

    @Arpad Golgoth…and THAT would be a story that MyTwoCensus should pick up and run with. Great expose forthcoming?

  60. Arpad Golgoth Says:

    I will happily provide documentation in support of my claims. I have names dates correspondence et al.

  61. home stretch Says:

    Vacant/Delete – last week of July – 1 to 2 days training, 1 to 2 days actual work.

    Follow-up Verification – first week of August – 1 to 2 days of training, 1 to 2 days of actual work.

  62. Peon aka Enumerator in SoCal Says:

    I was astounded that the CLs (I worked for two) did not seem that concerned about PII and completely ignored all suggestions to meet in more private places, or any of our suggestions, for that matter. Yes, we had to clean up our writing and anything outside the boxes – and sometimes erased notes made by previous enumerator(s) and added our own, etc., and that led to a lot of (sometimes loud) discussion while we stacked up for way too long to meet with our CL/CLA. Also, I would not be at all suprised if some of the people on my team made things up to keep their jobs – the pressure to perform was enormous and not everyone was all that ethical. One person told me she was getting information to fill out her EQs by googling addresses and I was shocked. My CL had no problem with it. I was let go before she was. Go figure.

  63. CLA Dave Says:

    re: googling addresses

    I got quite a few interviews by contacting people on the phone after getting their numbers from the reverse directory at

  64. anonymous Says:

    I just got called for the Vacant/Delete Operation – even if it lasts only a few days – of course I accepted the job! :)

  65. Says:

    This was pretty much standard procedure for every meeting, everyday, in my area. We tried meeting at a park but it was too windy and there was a shooting there late at night. We have had to move from fast food restaurant to fast food restaurant and hope the managers don’t kick us out while we finish our work. We try to buy something, but I can only eat so many times at McDonalds or Jack in the Box a day.