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.

From the mailbag: Quality Control

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.

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13 Responses to “From the mailbag: Quality Control”

  1. PabloS Says:

    Why would you say “there is no way to know who conducted the original interview”?
    In the district where I worked the enumerator would enter his/her signature and employee ID# on the back of the EQ. Isn’t this standard procedure?
    Are you saying PBOCS doesn’t store this information and offer it to the RI process?

  2. FL-RI Says:

    The LCO just gives a bunch of blank forms to the CL. The forms only have the address, original respondents name and phone number. The office will exhaust the three phone attempts then pass the EQ’s on to the crews. We then go to the addresses and ask for the OR, if they confirm they were interviewed, we only need to get the names of the people living at the address on 4/1 and a phone number. If they can’t confirm the completed the interview, we have to fill out the entire EQ.

    If you think people were unhappy to see enumerators at their door for NRFU, many of those who were lucky enough to be selected for NRFU RI are extremely unhappy to see us again. Some people told me I was their 7th point of contact from the census, even after mailing the original form in.

    As far as the time frame for NRFU RI goes, I believe we started between 1 and 2 weeks after NRFU started and NRFU was closed up 2 weeks ago, we scheduled to be done today, even though they gave us 30 new cases yesterday.

  3. Tell it like it is Says:

    In telling it like it is, its true NRFU Enumerators are working on NRFU Re-interviews, I seen it happened at my LCO. But in all fairness, it also has to do with the selection process. People are declining Census jobs. So when they get called for a job RI enumerator for 2-4 wks they dont want it. At my LCO, enumerators go back and forth too. So, in telling it like it is, would’nt this also be considered fraud? A tree is not the only thing that grows in Brooklyn.

  4. Enumerate this Says:

    I’ve had a similar experience in Virginia Beach to the Broward County CL. I was a NRFU enumerator until my crew wrapped up our binders. I then went through a three-hour “training” session and voila, I am in instant RI enumerator working in the same area where I was a NRFU enumerator.

    I suspect that this was an unsanctioned maneuver by the LCO. There were no written training materials — very unusual for the census, where we have Job Aids to tell us how to buckle our seat belts.

    The best part was when the RI FOS told us that we would only be getting two (2) RI EQs at a time. More efficient, he said. What? Everyone griped that we’d never get anything close to decent hours if we only had two forms at a time. He then revealed that if we visited an address, say, every two hours we could then close out the RI EQ and turn it in.

    To summarize, we could get an RI EQ at 10 a.m., visit at 10:15, 12:15, and 2:15 before turning it in as three NVs/NCs and then getting a new form. This would ensure that we quickly churned through the RI EQs, even though many would end up as close-outs or with very dubious proxies.

    @PabloS: No, the system that spits out the RI EQs apparently does not have the ability to include the original enumerator’s name or ID number. So were directed to use the honor system and turn back in any RI EQs we got for addresses that we had enumerated.

    On a related note, I was shocked to see that on all my RI EQs a clerk had laboriously hand-copied everything in the ‘NOTES’ section from the original EQ. I thought I labored to make neat block letters so the computer could read it, automating a big part of the census. Silly me.

    I can’t think of a punishment that fits the crimes committed by the census IT people in Suitland. Forced enumeration of anti-government enclaves in Idaho?

  5. Samantha Jackson Says:

    Enumerating in Field Operations(NRFU) and also enumerating in Quality Assurance (NRFURI) is a big no-no. The two are not supposed to mix. We were told that not even office clerks can cross over.

  6. Enumerate this Says:

    @Samantha Jackson: That’s what I understood as well, yet dozens of NRFU enumerators were redeployed as RI enumerators in the same area. LCO 2862.

  7. Jack Says:

    Even if the NRFU enumerators were moving to RI, the only way they could have the fraud happen again is if they actually remember how they lied on the original interview. Then when the two forms are compared in Marcs, they will be able to see that something was wrong.

  8. census lackey Says:

    What about all of the RI enumerators who were trained initially??? Why wouldn’t you bring them back?

  9. outta my census Says:

    “I can’t think of a punishment that fits the crimes committed by the census IT people in Suitland. Forced enumeration of anti-government enclaves in Idaho?” Hee. hee.. now THAT is something I would like to see! Reality bites the big guys in the butt!

    I’m an RI enumerator in CA. We’ve been getting a lot of “EQs” lately that have no name in the OR1 field. At first, the story was that the original EQs had somehow been misplaced in the office so we were supposed to conduct a full interview no matter what. Does this mean we aren’t really doing QC anymore? If these cases ARE subject to yet ANOTHER round of QC visits, I am pretty horrified. This means an address might have been contacted 12 or more times before the QC person even begins their string of attempts. No wonder census workers are meeting with such resistance!

    What happened to the hundreds of “lost” EQs? If the info truly was lost, I think that’s pretty inexcusable management of PII. And then, we, the enumerators have to go out into the field and try to cover for the bumble and get the info again.

    I’ve come up with a “rap” that works for me to explain my very redundant visit. If an enumerator goes with the official script, however, I think they come off pretty badly and I suspect, get low compliance. Why not prep us a little on what to say in these cases? Is ignorance truly bliss? I also wish that slightly different “Notices of Visit” could have been made for us RI folks to leave… Would it have hurt the QC operation so much to let the public know there IS one?

  10. anonymous Says:

    I’ve been working Quality Control and Re-Interview for other crews (I don’t know any of these employees). Lots of inaccuracies, false info provided by proxies, questionable info.

  11. anonymous Says:

    Yes, the public is extremely tired of seeing Census workers at their door.

  12. antsy Says:

    As enumerators, are held liable if proxies provided inaccurate info?

  13. Mary Beth Says:

    Please tell me what to say to these people. I am doing reinterviews and getting very low compliance. No one knows we were coming. We were very poorly trained. The rules change every day. Dealing with many justifiably angrey people who dutifully filled out their census forms.