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.

Author Archive

Luncheons at ranch resorts on your dime…

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I cannot make this up. Here’s how your tax dollars are being spent: On luncheons…at ranch resorts…for 2010 Census Partnership specialists and coordinators and 2010 Census partners. An article from Arizona reads as follows:

The 2010 Census Partner Appreciation & Thank You Luncheon was held on Thursday, August 12th, at the Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort in Tucson, Arizona.

The event was held to recognize partners that participated beyond the requirements to aid in the success of the 2010 census.

The luncheon agenda included:
Welcome – DarLene Burkett and Laura Cummings, Partnership Specialists
Words of Appreciation – Cathy Lacy, Regional Director, Denver Regional Census Center
Data Overview & Next Steps – Pamela Lucero, Partnership Coordinator, Denver Regional
Census Center
Presentation of Awards – Cathy Lacy, Regional Director, Denver Regional Census Center

Does this mean that people were flown from DENVER to ARIZONA for a luncheon? My initial guess is “yes” and I will get to the bottom of this immediately.

MyTwoCensus has already contacted Steve Jost of the Census Bureau to determine how much this luncheon cost and how many other luncheons or similar celebrations are taking place or have taken place throughout the country.

And they keep knocking in Jersey…

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Is this problem unique to The Garden State?

Hiring opportunities for 2010 Census staff…

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

MyTwoCensus just learned that 2010 Census employees are being encouraged to apply for more long-term positions.

Transcript from Dr. Groves’ most recent press conference..and a funny story

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Update: For some reason, comments were turned off for this post. Now that I noticed the problem, they are turned on.

Note: For a few months now, the Census Bureau has prevented me from asking questions when I dial in by phone to their monthly press conferences. The Bureau prefers to take questions from journalists with little or no knowledge about 2010 Census operations, because such questions will be less pointed/inflammatory.

Such was the case last week at Dr Groves’ press conference when question after question was asked and I was not selected to ask mine.  II was forced to resort to plan B: I dialed in to the press conference on a second phone line,  using a false name, “John Smith”, representing a fictional publication, “The Ocean Side Gazette” in order to have my question asked. Within minutes of this call ending, Steve Jost (the Census Bureau’s #2 political appointee)  acknowledged that people realized it was me on the line.

I find it both shocking and despicable that a fictional journalist from a fictional publication gets better treatment from the Census Bureau’s management at press conferences than Stephen Robert Morse of MyTwoCensus.com trying to ask tough questions.

Here’s the transcript:

http://2010.census.gov/news/pdf/transcript_8-10-10.pdf

Another 2010 Census employee attacked…

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Though there haven’t been media reports of attacks on 2010 Census employees for a couple of months now, so let’s hope that this recent incident in Kentucky is an isolated one:

http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/101074709.html

MyTwoCensus Photo Challenge: Best photo of 2010 Census waste gets a cash prize

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

MyTwoCensus is running our first photo challenge. After receiving many reports from readers that Local Census Offices around the country are now  recycling and throwing out hundreds to thousands of boxes worth of 2010 Census materials (including,  as one source says, “A truck completely filled with rubber bands, erasers, and pens…”), MyTwoCensus wants to document this waste.

The Census Bureau is trying to do all of these activities on the down-low (ever  since MyTwoCensus posted a photo of boxes on the sidewalks of New York).  So to further expose the Census Bureau’s practices, use your camera phones to take photos of Census Bureau waste at your local census office.

Please send your photo with a caption to mytwocensus [AT] mytwocensus.com. I will post the top entries before Labor Day Weekend and let readers vote on the outcome (with a cash prize for the winner if the person chooses to be identified). All photos will be posted anonymously unless the photographer says otherwise.

Update on Vangent

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

The other day,  I wrote about Vangent, the company that received an $86 million contract from the Census Bureau to staff call/processing centers for the 2010 Census. As it turns out, the company has a very shady history. Some readers of this site might not even realize that they have been working for Vangent, which sub-contracted 2010 Census hiring to other companies such as Quest Staffing Services, Synergy Staffing Partners and Remedy Intelligent Staffing. To get a more clear picture about how Vangent runs their operations (which seems more like how things are run in China than the US), check out jobvent.com’s page for Vangent. Here’s a sample quote from the site:

“Let’s start out with the basics: Vangent is a call center & information processing company. They work on U.S. federal government contracts. This means the management and leaders at Vangent will stoop to any level to satisfy the government agency who gave them the contract. You as an employee are a robot; performing the work that was outsourced by the government. You are not a person and you have no rights outside of the most basic rights that are afforded to government contract employees. Vangent is the most impersonal company you will ever encounter.”

Texas residents aren’t counted

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Here’s an article that discusses some major counting problems in El Paso County, Texas. Hopefully this is an isolated incident of neglect.

China counts 4 times as many people at 1/12 the cost…

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Here’s an article about China’s 2010 Census, which will cost $1.18 billion.

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Detroit Ponzi Schemer STILL employed by Census Bureau

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Toine Murphy making a 2010 Census presentation. Photo courtesy of the Ann Arbor Chronicle

Despite being indicted in Michigan in June, 2010, Toine Murphy, a one-time basketball player turned US Census Bureau partnership specialist (and apparently a major Dwight Dean crony) is STILL employed by the Census Bureau. As MLive.com reported back in June:

Michigan’s Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation today announced it has shut down a $1.9 million Ponzi scheme after records showed sales of securities products were used to fund shopping sprees and trips to strip clubs.

Investor Martin Royster, a partner in Royster, Carberry, Goldman & Associates, was accused of “promising outrageous returns” of up to 240 percent annually in a fraudulent oil investment company, according to OFIR

OFIR’s investigation showed that Royster’s wife, April Royster, Toine Murphy, Lloyd Banks III, Shannon Steel and Royster’s firm all were associated with the sale of unregistered securities products, a violation of the state’s Uniform Securities Act.

Mr. Murphy has not returned calls or e-mails, but it has been confirmed by a secretary at the Detroit Regional office that Murphy “works from home” but stops by the office “almost every day.” Mind you, Census Bureau “partnership” activities finished in early June, and in mid-August with Census forms all returned, who knows what this guy isdoing while remaining on the government’s payroll…

Burton Reist, the Census Bureau’s Associate Director for Communications,  denied any knowledge of this situation.

Stay tuned for more!

Anyone know about Vangent?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

A significant amount of work, $86 million worth, for the 2010 Census went to an IT management firm called Vangent. In the company’s most recent earnings report, they wrote:

Vangent reported revenue from continuing operations of $214.8 million for the quarter ended July 3, 2010, an increase of $79.7 million or 59% compared to $135.1 million in the quarter ended June 27, 2009.  The increase in total revenue from continuing operations reflects an $83.0 million or 72% increase in revenue from the Government Group.  The increase is primarily attributable to $85.9 million in revenue from Vangent’s 2010 U.S. Census contract.

What have been your experiences working for Vangent? How have they managed this large contract? As this firm derived a major portion of their revenue from the 2010 Census, it’s important for us to look into their background. A search reveals that Chairman of the Board Robert B. McKeon has a shady past which is revealed in this Business Week article:

McKeon is the founder of Veritas Capital, a New York private-equity firm that invests in intelligence and defense contractors. Among the fund’s holdings: DynCorp International Inc. (DCP ) in Irving, Tex., whose name was tarnished in the late 1990s when some of its employees in Bosnia became embroiled in a sex trafficking scandal.

In the summer of 2005, another scandal-plagued military contractor caught McKeon’s eye. MZM Inc. was the focus of a federal investigation into whether its owner bribed California Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars of government contracts providing technical and other support to intelligence agencies and the military. Sensing an opportunity, McKeon hired a former CIA general counsel to quiz Pentagon and intelligence officials about the viability of MZM’s business, which before the invasion of Iraq included helping with controversial analysis of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear capabilities. “We take on messy situations, and MZM was a mess,” says McKeon, whose top secret security clearance still doesn’t allow him to know all the details of what his companies do.

Not everyone is cheering. Critics argue that Athena’s apparent success rests on lucrative contracts landed under questionable circumstances. “Veritas is profiting from the spoils of congressional bribes,” says Keith Ashdown, vice-president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, in Washington.


What other skeletons are in the Vangent closet?

Why is Dwight Dean still on the 2010 Census payroll?

Monday, August 16th, 2010

A quick search of the Commerce Department web site reveals that Dwight Dean is still employed by the Census Bureau even though he has long been removed from duty as the director of the Detroit region. Numerous tips have come in to the MyTwoCensus inbox with allegations that Mr. Dean engaged in substantial amounts of illegal activities while he was on the job.

From the directory:

Dean, Dwight P CENSUS Dwight.P.Dean@census.gov +1 313 259 1158

Note: I have tried to get through to Mr. Dean numerous times by telephone but I suspect that part of the reason that I was unable to get through is that Mr. Dean permitted his secretary’s husband to be hired as a supervisor for the 2010 Census (can you say NEPOTISM and CRONYISM) after other hardworking individuals were wrongfully fired by Mr. Dean.  Getting past a crony gatekeeper isn’t easy…

MyTwoCensus has successfully removed other corrupt officials from office like Joseph Aramanda in Chicago and Rafael Dominguez in New York, and we will get to the bottom of this issue as well.

Interesting take on New York 2010 Census spending…

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Please keep in mind that the following opinion piece from Matt Schaertl on MPNnow.com doesn’t even factor in many millions of federal dollars that were allocated for 2010 Census PR and advertising in New York:

Canandaigua, N.Y. —

Too frequently, I receive emailed newsletters from Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez, New York’s secretary of state, informing me how her department is doing a terrific job and should be expanded. I do not really know how she received my email address, but it’s good reading when I am in a cynical mood, or when I need something to think about when I wake up in the middle of the night.

In her last newsletter, besides mentioning herself 28 times, she highlights the additional “$2 million in grants to bolster mobilization and media campaigns around the 2010 census,” and how those grants improved returns. What she does not say is that the grants improved the return by only 190,000 people. In other words, taxpayers spent, on average, an additional $50 in advertising for every lazy family of five that can’t manage to walk out to the mailbox, or, perhaps, don’t know where the mailbox or post office is.

She also mentions that because of the extra effort, there were “dozens of non-profits that worked together for the first time.” Wow, dozens out of tens of thousands in the state.

It seems like a more reasonable solution would be to use tax returns and Social Security numbers (dependents are listed on tax returns) backed up with driver licenses to gather census information. Question for Cortes-Vazquez: If 59 percent of state residents responded to the 2000 census and 60 percent responded to the most recent census, then how do they know that the other 40 percent even exist? According to the state website, New York City represents approximately 44 percent of the state’s population; something does not sit right.

Another rumor comes into our Inbox…

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Can anyone confirm/deny the following:

In the  Los Angeles region,  laid off workers are being denied unemployment benefits because wage data provided to EDD is incorrect or has not been provided.  LARCC sent  email to offices today asking to be advised asap if  this has occurred in their offices. . One case in our office has wage data reported incorrectly and another shows  ZERO wages for the last year although employee has worked in office since 2009. Problem is occurring in both DAPPS and NFC (management) payrolls.

Update: Former 2010 Census workers speak out in Fresno

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Looks like Fresno is in more and more trouble every day. Thanks to the local CBS affiliate for the following:

By Tony Botti

Former workers of our local US Census Bureau offices banded together on Wednesday at a Fresno park to tell the media their stories of alleged discrimination, not receiving pay and being wrongfully terminated.

The issue goes deeper then the people being fired for questioning the ethics of their superiors; it’s believed that management’s desire to cut corners, could skew the population count that comes out at the end of the year.

Former census worker Craig Baltz was not fired from his job but says he personally witnessed misconduct. “I saw many instances of mistreatment of employees and poor management decisions that lead to a questionable count of the population,” Baltz said.

The accusations go against everything the census is about, to capture our region’s exact population count, so we can compete for federal funds.

The former workers say upper management basically took the critical task of gathering an exact count and turned it into a contest with the goal of speed and not accuracy.

The former employees say this type of environment left them facing a dilemma. “…turn in accurate work not meeting the goal and face termination or falsify work and be praised and rewarded with more work and continued employment,” said Mary Costell. Mary was fired and says she felt she was fighting a losing battle.

The former workers say they are not disgruntled because they never intended to make a career at the Census Bureau and knew the jobs were temporary.

What has them most upset is that by being terminated, they are now eliminated from ever working for the federal government again.

Several departments in Washington D.C. are now investigating these complaints. If evidence is found to back the worker’s stories, they will file a lawsuit.

In response to the allegations, the U.S. Census Bureau issued the following statement: “We immediately took action upon learning about these allegations coming from the Fresno area. It appears that all procedures and protocols have been followed. As the Inspector General and Government Accountability Office are always alerted any time there are questions, concerns or allegations; we are cooperating with them and will keep doing so going forward.”

Census Director Robert M. Groves’ update on the 2012 Census (transcript not yet available)

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Is it BONUS season at the 2010 Census?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

MyTwoCensus has been receiving many reports of 2010 Census workers getting bonuses. We have heard that favoritism and nepotism have determined in some instances who is getting these bonuses. And finally, multiple sources have told us that partnership specialists have received bonuses as well as those people who finished their jobs early (without quality of data being checked).

Please chime in on this issue in the comments section and let us know who did or didn’t get bonuses in your office,  so we can get a more clear picture of this most elusive policy.

China’s headcount using satellite images to find everyone

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Will actions similar to those in China one day be the norm in the US?

by Xinhua writer Guo Likun

BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) — From counting toothbrushes on building sites to using remote sensing satellite maps, China’s officials, scholars and census takers are racking their brains to make this year’s national census of the world’s most populous country as accurate as possible.

About 6.5 million census takers will go door-to-door in the first 10 days of the census, which begins on Nov. 1.

Experts say increasing internal migration, greater awareness of privacy, urbanization and children born in violation of the country’s “one child” policy make the census a challenging task.

DESTINATION OR SOURCE?

One of the trickiest questions is how to track China’s large mobile population, which is estimated at 210 million compared with only 100 million a decade ago.

About 75 percent of the mobile population is aged 18 to 40, and about 157 million have moved from rural areas to cities for better job prospects, says Zhang Yi, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Almost half of the labor force in Chinese cities comes from the country’s vast rural areas, says Zhang.

In addition, 30 percent of urban residents are away from their permanent residence, Zhang said.

Duan Chengrong, director of the Research Center for Population and Development under the People’s University of China, says previous censuses mainly focused on the cities, or the destinations of internal migration, to count mobile population.

“But only surveying the destinations of flow increases the chance of leaving some migrant workers uncounted,” Duan said. “So the government has decided to incorporate both the destinations and sources in the upcoming census to get more accurate data.

“Since residents are familiar with each other in small communities like villages, they know who went out and how many of their fellow villagers have gone to cities to work,” said Duan, who is also a member of the nine-member census consultant group under the State Council.

“Generally speaking, we are trying to get an accurate head count from the sources, or the rural areas, and at the same time have an idea of their structure in the cities, such as where have they gone and what do they do in cities,” he said.

Since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, China has conducted national population censuses in 1953, 1964, 1982, 1990 and 2000.

The last census a decade ago counted 1.29533 billion people.

by Xinhua writer Guo Likun

BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) — From counting toothbrushes on building sites to using remote sensing satellite maps, China’s officials, scholars and census takers are racking their brains to make this year’s national census of the world’s most populous country as accurate as possible.

About 6.5 million census takers will go door-to-door in the first 10 days of the census, which begins on Nov. 1.

Experts say increasing internal migration, greater awareness of privacy, urbanization and children born in violation of the country’s “one child” policy make the census a challenging task.

DESTINATION OR SOURCE?

One of the trickiest questions is how to track China’s large mobile population, which is estimated at 210 million compared with only 100 million a decade ago.

About 75 percent of the mobile population is aged 18 to 40, and about 157 million have moved from rural areas to cities for better job prospects, says Zhang Yi, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Almost half of the labor force in Chinese cities comes from the country’s vast rural areas, says Zhang.

In addition, 30 percent of urban residents are away from their permanent residence, Zhang said.

Duan Chengrong, director of the Research Center for Population and Development under the People’s University of China, says previous censuses mainly focused on the cities, or the destinations of internal migration, to count mobile population.

“But only surveying the destinations of flow increases the chance of leaving some migrant workers uncounted,” Duan said. “So the government has decided to incorporate both the destinations and sources in the upcoming census to get more accurate data.

“Since residents are familiar with each other in small communities like villages, they know who went out and how many of their fellow villagers have gone to cities to work,” said Duan, who is also a member of the nine-member census consultant group under the State Council.

“Generally speaking, we are trying to get an accurate head count from the sources, or the rural areas, and at the same time have an idea of their structure in the cities, such as where have they gone and what do they do in cities,” he said.

Since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, China has conducted national population censuses in 1953, 1964, 1982, 1990 and 2000.

NRFU Res operation…

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Last week, MyTwoCensus wrote about a 2010 Census operation called NRFU Residual Follow-Up (yes, that means a follow-up to a follow-up). Now, in the comments section, we hope to hear your stories about this operation, which has been dubbed NRFU RES.

Update: Our tech problems are fixed

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Google and other web browsers may take a day or two to update their systems. A big thanks to Evan Goldin for working tirelessly to fix these problems.

Best,

SRM