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.

Archive for June, 2010

Census Bureau’s official response to James O’Keefe scandal

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

The following statement comes to me from Stephen Buckner of the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office:

Statement on O’Keefe Taping of Census Bureau Staff


“Census Bureau policies and training are clear and require all employees to honestly submit accurate time records. Workers are instructed to report hours they work, which would include their time traveling to and from training. This is no different than the training session that Mr. O’Keefe attended in New Jersey, and during his previous employment with the Census Bureau last year. In his video, Mr. O’Keefe, an admitted criminal, does not disclose that he previously worked for the Census Bureau for nearly 2 months in 2009 without incident, allegation or complaint. That employment with us was well before his indictment and prior to his conviction of a federal crime last week.  The Census Bureau obviously does not condone any falsifying of or tampering with timesheets by its employees. We are investigating the allegations in Mr. O’Keefe’s selectively edited video
and will take appropriate administrative action with staff as warranted. ”

Background:

· Policies, procedures and training sessions clearly instruct employees to record the hours they work, which includes payment for the actual time traveling to and from training sessions. Mr. O’Keefe clearly did not include that, or the fact that part of his raw footage also shows trainers instructing new employees that they must record their mileage accurately.

· Mr. O’Keefe implies that the tapings occurred while he was still employed by the Census Bureau.  In fact, most of his video taping took place after his Census Bureau employment ended.  The Census Bureau’s stringent background check disqualifies individuals with pending federal charges or criminal offenses.  After O’Keefe’s background check came back, he quit before any action could be taken.

· None of the other new hires or Census Bureau staff attending the training sessions that were taped were notified or granted permission to be filmed in Mr. O’Keefe’s video. Many states have laws against such surreptitious tapings.

· Mr. O’Keefe, like all census workers, took a confidentiality oath for life to protect census data — the Census Bureau cannot by law disclose any personal information about a household or respondent that could identify them. We take this very seriously at the Census Bureau.

Detroit Regional Director is replaced mysteriously and at the last minute…WHY?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

UPDATE: I called Census Bureau Asst. Director for Communications Burton Reist to follow up about this because I was tipped off that Dwight Dean was investigated for not following procedures and falling behind in NRFU operations. He said, “Mr. Dean is not currently involved in management. He is absolutely still employed…Wayne Hatcher from Charlotte has taken over the office and field operations in Detroit are running smoothly.”  Upon me asking him a load of other questions, he simply replied no comment. Well, we all know that running smoothly line is a load of horse sh*t…now to find out the truth about the rest of it…

In the past few days I received some tips that Dwight Dean of the Detroit office was given the boot, both suddenly and mysteriously. Today, my suspicions were confirmed when the Census Bureau sent out this press release:

Census Bureau Statement on the Detroit Regional Office

Detroit Regional Director Dwight Dean is not currently involved in the
management of Regional operations.  This is a personnel matter, and Mr.
Dean remains in the employment of the Census Bureau.  In compliance with
the Privacy Act, the Census Bureau has no further comment.

In the interim, Wayne Hatcher, from the Charlotte Regional Office, is
serving as Acting Regional Director in Detroit.  Elaine Wagner, Deputy
Regional Director, and Jonathan Spendlove, Assistant Regional Director,
continue to be involved with management of the office. Both are seasoned
managers, and Field operations in Detroit are functioning smoothly.  As we
do with all twelve Regional Census Centers, we will continue to work with
the Detroit Region to provide any support they need to ensure a successful
2010 Census and fulfill other regional responsibilities.

The Washington Post’s Carol Morello added this commentary:

The longtime regional Census Bureau director in Detroit has been replaced, but census officials are declining to discuss the reasons behind the unusual move, which comes in the middle of census season.

Dwight P. Dean, a census employee since 1969 and regional director for the past 13 years, no longer has managerial responsibilities as of late last week, said Burton Reist, a census spokesman. Dean remains on the payroll, Reist said. When asked what work Dean was doing, Reist said, “I’m not sure.” Asked if Dean was on leave, Reist declined to comment further, saying it was a personnel matter.

According to a census biography, Dean was awarded the Department of Commerce’s bronze and silver medals in 1986 and 1991.

Attempts to reach Dean were unsuccessful.

Ed O’Keefe on James O’Keefe (no relation)

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post has added some more info tot he James O’Keefe narrative from earlier today:

“Workers are instructed to report hours they work, which would include their time traveling to and from training,” said spokesman Stephen Buckner. “This is no different than the training session that Mr. O’Keefe attended in New Jersey, and during his previous employment with the Census Bureau last year. In his video, Mr. O’Keefe, an admitted criminal, does not disclose that he previously worked for the Census Bureau for nearly two months in 2009 without incident, allegation or complaint.

“That employment with us was well before his indictment and prior to his conviction of a federal crime last week. The Census Bureau obviously does not condone any falsifying of or tampering with time sheets by its employees. We are investigating the allegations in Mr. O’Keefe’s selectively edited video and will take appropriate administrative action with staff as warranted. ”

A Census Bureau official also noted that O’Keefe’s decision to videotape the training sessions appears to violate Commerce Department policies against recording conversations.

O’Keefe confirmed that he worked for the agency last summer for about a month compiling addresses as part of 2010 Census preparations. He was hired again this April and quit after two days of training before receiving further instructions in order to avoid any privacy concerns, he said in an interview.

Daily Sound Off: Contender for Worst Local Census Office

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

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.

Conclusion:

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?

Breaking News from Breitbart: Census waste caught on tape in undercover sting operation

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Conservative activist James O’Keefe (of ACORN fame) has produced the following video. It will be aired on Good Morning America later today:

MyTwoCensus Editorial: New York Times editorial has it both right and wrong

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Today, the New York Times published an editorial that praises Congress for initiating bi-partisan reforms of the Census Bureau as it initiated legislation that mandates the Census Bureau Director’s term to be fixed at five-years, a plan that makes it easier to work around the decennial census. However, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and the White House were at first keen on this idea, but have now stalled the plan, despite seven former Census Bureau directors asserting that this is the best way to reform the Census Bureau. Robert M. Groves, the current Census Bureau Director, also supports this plan — but apparently the egos of the others have got in the way of progress:

The Obama administration, which should be supporting the bill, is instead raising objections. It has objected to a provision that would allow the census director to report directly to the commerce secretary. It also has objected to a provision that would require the director to send Congress the bureau’s budget request at the same time it goes to the White House.

However, the editorial strays from its initial goals later on and says this:

The census was in dire straits when President Obama took office, and it took a while for the administration to get organized. The 2010 count is now on track, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Locke and Robert Groves, the bureau director — both Obama appointees.

The New York Times has it wrong. The Census Bureau and the 2010 Census are not “on track” at this point. The myriad technical failures and other problems have already hampered the accuracy of this count and will continue to do so in the immediate future mean that the 2010 Census is NOT on track.

Wall Street Journal: 2010 Census hiring blitz will alter job figures

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

The Wall Street Journal asserts that the national unemployment rate will fall this month, and this is in large part due to the thousands of people who are temporarily working for the 2010 Census. Here’s the article.

NY Post’s John Crudele continues war on 2010 Census hiring/firing practices

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Last week, we posted that John Crudele of the New York Post has been fighting the Census Bureau over allegations that the Bureau is inflating national hiring rates because workers have been hired and fired for different stages of the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau’s spokesperson Shelly Lowe, has explicitly denied these claims in the comments sections of Crudele’s page and MyTwoCensus.com. But Mr. Crudele feels that his fight is worthy and just, so he has taken it a step further today by posting nondescript stories of people who have contacted him because they have been hired/fired multiple times (full article HERE). MyTwoCensus, at this time, feels that the Census Bureau would not explicitly lie about how they report new hires/terminated workers to the federal government but here are some case studies anyway:

* I was hired four times, counting last year and this. There’s lots of waste and poor management. I’ve wondered about the handheld computer (used by door-to-door workers.) I’ve no idea how many of these were purchased. They were only used last year in one effort and my understanding is there were a lot of problems.

* I’m in south Orange County in Southern California and I’m going door-to-door to people the Census says have not turned in their form. At least 60 percent of the people I speak to swear they’ve turned it in. We are supposed to visit a residence three times. (If we can’t contact anyone) we are supposed to try up to three proxies (neighbors or other people) to get information on a particular resident. So basically your neighbor can report how many people live in your home.

* Everything you reported is absolutely true. I was fired three times and rehired. I earned more going to training classes than (working). Several classmates didn’t get any work after completing training.

* I was hired by the Census on March 16 and my last day was April 19 at the bilingual question answering center in Rome, Ga. We had two days of training, of which one was just to get hired officially as a federal employee. I had a total of two people come by my location and ask a question — costing taxpayers $250 per question.

* I am a Census worker. I, too, can confirm that they are checking and checking. I checked homes that have already been checked by the “enumerators.” The next phase is to go and re-check the checks that we already did twice..

* It’s not much better in Florida. Our first day of training was a total joke. The supposed crew leader knew nothing. She didn’t even open the manual to prep herself. We spent four hours signing six pieces of paper, one of which we signed on the day of the initial test ing. The nightmare didn’t end when we got to the field. No work was available so we would sit in a meeting waiting for work for hours, which went on our timesheet.