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.

Census workers call results into question

Ex-workers in California count allege falsified data, inaccuracy.

Posted at 09:18 PM on Thursday, Aug. 05, 2010

By Michael Doyle / Bee Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Federal investigators probing discrimination complaints filed by former California census workers also are looking into allegations that management pressure drove some workers to cut corners or even falsify data in the crucial population count.

In one case, a former census worker allegedly tallied residents of a migrant farmworkers’ camp on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side, even though the camp itself was abandoned because of the region’s irrigation water shortage.

“The goals had everything to do with speed, and nothing to do with accuracy,” said Craig Baltz, a former worker in one of the Census Bureau’s two Fresno offices. “Instead of slowing down to ensure accurate data, we sped up.”

Baltz added that in some difficult-to-reach areas, “enumerators had two choices — turn in accurate work [late] and get written up or terminated, or falsify data and keep working.”

Baltz worked for the census between October 2009 and July 2010.

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20 Responses to “Census workers call results into question”

  1. YoungCL Says:

    The absurd thing about all this is that even with all the media reports of how inaccurate the work is because management does nothing but create deadlines with implied threats… even with that, management still refuses to slow the thing down to ensure accuracy. In my area we’re being pushed to get things done the first few days of this coming week so the next operation can start on time, even though my area is still 15% from completion… and even though employees are falsifying information. Management knows about the falsification, and they’re addressing it — but not the root cause of it.

  2. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @YoungCL – where are you located? Would love some details…

  3. Barcelo Observer Says:

    Just another testimonial to the tactics used by Area Manager Barcelo in Central California. She doesn’t give a damn about people or accuracy of the Census, just about meeting the ridiculous deadlines, NO MATTER WHAT. Perhaps it could be because she has been promised an exotic trip or lots of $$$ at the conclusion by Christy, if she “WINS” …

  4. Tellitlikeitis Says:

    The pressure by Area Managers and even ARCM is all over the place. It started in NYC. Brooklyn, Your not alone!! People at the LCO level were fired because management at the RCC level told them to do things or expect reprisal…..

  5. Carol Bradley Says:

    As a crew CL for Update/Enumerate Quality Control, I and my crew had daily meetings Monday through Friday in order not only to submit D308s, but especially to discuss problems with completing reinterviews (mainly proxy respondents)and logistics for completing the work. I would then make a report to my FOS, who then passed it on to the LCO. Guess what? LCO never responded to FOS, so I tried the direct route via faxed reports and updates. Same non-response in general, but once in a rare while I would get through to the “powers that be.” However, the atmosphere of lassitude and “who cares” was startling, especially compared with my experiences in 1990 and 2000. Then, all of a sudden, I would get an urgent phone call in mid-morning regarding “quick, bring everything to the office, complete or not — but try to complete all of the work in the next three hours.” What an unprofessional way to conduct business — oh, I forgot, it is the government in action. Even so, when I worked for the state government people kept in touch and worked on deadlines to produce quality work. The taxpayers should be up in arms over this gross waste of money and moronic mismanagement regardless where in the U.S.

  6. ActualWorker Says:

    Remember, when the right wing asks something like: “where are you located? Would love some details…”

    what they mean is, “we want to get anything we can to figger out exactly how much we can twist your words around to simply sling mud at government. We don’t really care about making the Census better or helping you in your work.”

    Remember, this was the blog who claimed the Census bureau was practicing “censorship” because they didn’t allow all Census workers to speak to the media and reveal PII & Title 13 data, & routinely asks Census workeres to violate their work rules to send him internal memos.

    He’s setting people up to get fired, arrested, & sued, all to twist something around to some juicy tidbit on his blog.

  7. GS-X Says:

    Are you insinuating that hundreds of thousands of temporary field staff did not work hard enough or well enough? That they did not actually work?
    I want to be sure I understand you, do you think temporary field staff should be arrested for talking to the press?

  8. anonymous Says:

    True. There is a problem with falsified, inaccurate information in other RCCs and LCOs, too.

    Today, I worked in 115 degree heat index. It has been made very clear to enumerators that you work and get the job done or turn in your unfinished work, badge, bag, materials; and, another enumerator will do the job.

  9. Jake Says:

    Major hot out there.
    Stay hydrated.
    What were you doing in the field today?
    Follow-up on Occupieds that used a Proxy or what?

  10. Florida Fool Says:

    I agree that Mr. Morse often sounds like he is “licking his chops”, but what is the alternative? Through his blog, I have discovered that the crazy artificial deadlines and brutal tactics were not isolated incidents, but extended throughout numerous states and regions. Before reading these blog comments, I thought my bad experience was an isolated incident — now I know the truth. And, I want to know what the official line is about promising bonus payments to managers who brought in their work ahead of schedule.

    Just curious — did any of you other field workers have your LCO tell you that you could use yourself as a “proxy”? I was flabbergasted when that dlirective came down from my LCO.

  11. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    ActualWorker- You give me way too much credit, really. I hope that earning a BA in English taught me not to use the term “figger out” unless I was creating a pastiche of a Mark Twain novel. SRM

  12. Al Forteni Says:

    This is going to unravel more and more. More congressional offices are joining in the investigations. Visalia is one of the offices managed by Araceli Barcelo and had the most proxys. Nationally, they are finding numerous proxys are incorrect. What does your neighbor know about you? In most communities these days, very little. There are employees in the offices managed by Araceli Barcelo who are now saying they were so pressured to finish early, they were told to lie and management would cover up. Speed not accuracy. Greed not quality.

    What’s in it for the LARCC managers, including Christy, merit pay/awards (bonuses, promotions for all who finished early -Jeff Enos, Celeste Jimenez, Julie Lam-Ly. For the next level bonuses and permanent jobs at the Regional Office, some in ACS managed by Jeff Enos. Those eligible for the permanent positions: Araceli Barcelo, other Area Managers who finished early, Sandra Iraheta Aguilera, Rachell McDonald. (Sorry Sal Ramirez, I don’t think you will get one of those positions.) The LCOMs were told very directly by Julie Lam-Ly at an LCOM conference, there are no jobs for them at the Regional Office. These LARCC managers will get all of these rewards on the backs of the many field employees they mislead, pressured relentlessly and abused. These were hard working folks who needed to and wanted to work, who believe in their civic duty and that they could help the community. They were taken advantage of. I am getting off my soap box because I don’t need to say more. These managers will be investigated inside out and will be hed accountable what they did and for what they failed to do.

  13. Carol Bradley Says:

    Re Florida Fool’s question “self as proxy”

    My LCO told me, as CL, that I could be a proxy for the vacant, seasonal or otherwise uninhabitable homes/cabins here in the sticks — but one of my enumerators conducted the reinterview with me, then put me as OR and herself as enumerator (date, signature, ID #). These were all “vacants, proxy or no respondent” last-minute REIQs for our large rural area, including, NO JOKE, NOLQs in the forests, BLM areas, etc. We shared a ride and my enumerator claimed the mileage, but we were both paid per hour.

    2020 should use no proxies whatsoever unless a written directive is handed down from Congress, no less. Although it is difficult to get seasonal usage information, then and only then should a proxy be used. Our original production enumerators were really iffy and their CL was ultimately terminated.

  14. Jake Says:

    This might help to address Seasonal Homes and all their related issues:

    On the 2020 Census have spaces that persons completing Census 2020 for their primary residence so they have to list all other properties they own plus whether or not “somebody” lives there full time of not and if so provide names etc, plus if the property is used as a HU or for in most cases Ag use.
    One would think with this data they could devise a program to cross reference these (seasonal use only ) addresses so when it comes time for
    NRFU questions about these addresses would already be answered and not have to be visited.
    Any thoughts?

  15. Brooklyn Enum Says:

    This case is just another example of why Census trainees are constantly encouraged to write up their superiors on info-comms. Throughout the duration of my training on both NRFU and VDC, we were regularly told: “If you notice a superior doing something suspicious, write them up. If it’s me, turn it into somebody else.”

    To those who pointed out shady dealings, we salute you. We need an accurate count.

  16. Brooklyn Enum Says:

    PS, Morse: Your response to ActualWorker is a bit of a red herring. By attacking his spelling, you dodge his point that you solicit complaints from census workers by pretending you care about their welfare, when your true purpose is to discredit the decennial census by any means necessary.

    The fact that you have no qualms about leaving false posts unaltered and uncorrected shows that this blog is partly a disinformation operation, not a fact-finding mission.

  17. Jeremy Says:

    The thing is the same people ready to scream and kick about inaccuracies were the same ones whining about the thing costing too much money. “Good, Fast and Cheap. Pick two of the three.”

  18. Shirley Says:

    Regarding seasonal homes;when I worked VDC, many people I spoke with didn’t understand that we needed information on EVERY residence, occupied or not. I had more than one person tell me, “I filled out a form where I live, so why do I need to respond for this (seasonal) home?”

  19. Former Enumerator Says:

    Cutting corners is so true! I watched some real high quality employees get thrown under the bus. When the L.A. RCC comes to town, be afraid, be very afraid! I witnessed L.A. people screaming at people to get it done yesterday! They do indeed get bonuses based on speed, not accuracy.

    I DARE the L.A. staff to go enumerate an area like Big Sur which is full of nasty uphill dirt roads with no names and locked gates. Then there are inaccurate maps, because the mapping operation was cut off abruptly last year. Finally, if you do find the place you are looking for, many times, the residents want nothing to do with the government! Nonetheless, L.A. wanted Big Sur to be done instantly! If not, you got fired.

  20. Barcelo Observer Says:

    Good report, “Former Enumerator” … so, so true — another STERLING EXAMPLE of the work ethic of Araceli Barcelo and her crack staff …

    In her twisted world, she would actually LIKE the part “be afraid, be very afraid…”