Is this problem unique to The Garden State?
Archive for the ‘Management’ Category
MyTwoCensus just learned that 2010 Census employees are being encouraged to apply for more long-term positions.
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.
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.”
Here’s an article that discusses some major counting problems in El Paso County, Texas. Hopefully this is an isolated incident of neglect.
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!
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?
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…
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
A reader sent us the following from the Los Angeles Census Office – Are other regions doing this too?
Well, in anticipation of Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves’ press conference that starts in just over an hour (yes, for those people on the West Coast this is conveniently timed for 7AM – perhaps a move so nobody is actually on the call) the Commerce Department announced that the Census Bureau is under-budget and is returning more than $1.5 billion to the Treasury Department. Obviously, the timing of this statement is a Public Relations coup d’etat prior to the press conference, with the hopes of deflecting the rather tough questions that should be asked in regard to faulty operations. But let’s get some things straight here: The Census Bureau received $1 billion in extra cash from the stimulus package, so that means that its budget swelled to $14.7 billion after the initial budgeting was done. Additionally, the 2010 Census is NOT FINISHED. There are ongoing operations, including Census Coverage Measurement (CCM) and the recently added NRFU Residual Follow-Up. How much will these operations cost?
*Also, a note about the media: The mainstream media has been ALL OVER reporting this issue. I am upset by this for 2 reasons: 1. The media goes nuts whenever the Census Bureau does something good, but fails to criticize it when it is wrong. 2. I never received this press release even though I have informed the Census Bureau on numerous occasions that their time-sensitive releases don’t reach my inbox, and they have repeatedly assured me that they will correct the problem, but this hasn’t happened yet.
The 2010 Census has been marked by management goals that monitoring production standards. Every job from payroll keying, to hours and miles driven per case, is monitored. But imagine a job though where you are held to no production standard. Your job is simply to make sure other people are doing their jobs. You can stand over, hover and watch to make sure people are doing it, threaten or intimidate but you don’t have to know anything about procedures. You are reimbursed for mileage, travel costs and are paid anywhere from GS-07 to GS-12 per year, well above the salaries of clerks, crew leaders, office supervisors and sometimes even the AMFO and LCOM.
The sad part is actually there is a job like this at the Census and it is the job of the Regional Technician.
Before we begin dissing on Regional Technicians let’s take some comments that I have compiled from posts on MyTwoCensus that come from around the nation about them:
Former AMFO Says:
May 18th, 2010 at 9:53 am
The biggest waste of money spent in the 2010 Census are the Regional Technicians. They are supposed to support the LCO’s and provide whatever guidance and resources necessary to complete the task. They are really clueless on how the operations should be run. Our RT would come in and find the smallest thing wrong and and run right to the Area Manager. She would completely bypass the Local Manager. It didn’t matter that the LCO far exceeded all goals in every operation if one thing was out of line we were a bunch of failures. This person loved to talk down the neighboring offices as well as ours. The Census pays the RT’s for both their time and mileage. Added up the are paid quite handsomely for not knowing much. My RT told me that I was a Manager and wasn’t supposed to think. Try that in the Private sector. Anyone else out there have the same experience ?
Anonymous NE Says:
May 18th, 2010 at 4:23 pm
As for FORMER AMFO….I couldn’t agree more with regard to the RT’s. They actually ship these morons from other states, put them up in high priced apartments and houses and pay them well….and they know ZIP. As you say , they are quick to condemn the staff at the LCO’s, and operate with ZERO accountability.
May 18th, 2010 at 9:24 pm
Former AMFO’s RT sounds just like ours. Several managers and OOS’s found out the hard way that the RT sort of functioned like a Political Commissar. Everything the Area Manager knew about the LCO was through the RT’s filter. When anyone complained that the RT’s directives were contrary to Census manuals and rules, they were soon demoted or fired.
Anonymous NE Says:
May 18th, 2010 at 10:58 pm
EX-IT…..you are also correct about the RT’s. Here in NY, the Area Managers do NOTHING..the poor excuse is that they be in all places at all times, so therefore they dispatch the, and I quote…’eyes and ears of the Area Manager” to the LCO’s….the RT’s come with an agenda, and may I say their own “prejudices” to inflame, instigate, undercut etc the LCOM’s. There are RT’s here in the NY area that preach EEO and by the book, yet have been subjects of EEo complaints themselves, and sexual misconduct…..hmmmmm, the eyes and ears????? Interesting
May 18th, 2010 at 11:56 pm
RT’s are such a waste of time and money. They come in and try to change things and just make a bigger mess. Some of the RT’s do have experience but most have no clue. We had an RT that started out as a clerk and is now an RT. He was barely making it as a clerk.
The Regional Technician job is not well defined, and this is a major cause of problems. RTs have no supervisory rights but sometimes exercise them. They usually can’t be trusted because they are simply tattle tellers running straight to the area managers and telling them who should be fired. They are usually the ones who are ready to step in an take the helm of the assistant manager but sometimes add to the chaos because they don’t know anything. The Regional Technician is also next in line to succeed the Area Manager in case he/she should be incapacitated. Some regional technicians are career census employees. This makes the entire Census Bureau look bad because if they are like this during the decennial it shows you the incompetency that is running this agency the other eight years.
The regional technician job in summary is another bad decision on the part of the census. For the 2020 Census they should define a better role for the regional technician because frankly paying someone to do nothing and not firing them because they do nothing is simply unacceptable.
If anyone wants to vent please feel free to tell us your “best” Regional Technician (and I say this with all sarcasm) stories along with some names and locations.
The Star Advertiser reports the following:
The Hawaii County prosecutor’s office agreed yesterday to dismiss a trespassing charge against a census worker who had been arrested after a Puna resident refused to participate in the survey.
The county also said it will cooperate with the U.S. Census Bureau to prevent similar situations in the future.
“We came to the conclusion that this was the better way to resolve this,” said Kevin Hashizaki, deputy county prosecutor.
Big Island police arrested census taker Russell J. Haas, 57, on March 10 at a home in Puna after the resident, an off-duty police officer, declined to answer questions and asked him to leave the property.
The resident called police, who arrested him for trespassing. “I tried to explain it to them. They didn’t want to hear it. They told me to get the hell out of there,” Haas said yesterday.
Haas had been charged with second-degree criminal trespass, a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $1,000 fine.
“I hope this never happens to any other census worker, any place, any time,” Haas said.
A federal judge in Honolulu dismissed the case, which had been transferred from state court, yesterday.
Hashizaki said continuing to prosecute the case would have required bringing four to five witnesses to Oahu yesterday for a hearing to oppose dismissal of the charge. And if the county was successful, those witnesses would be brought back to Oahu for trial.
“We’re very happy that this was resolved the way it was,” said Jamey Christy, Los Angeles regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “We learned a lot.” Christy said he believes local authorities also learned a lot.
Christy said guidance and procedures for census workers are scripted and that they are the same for census workers across the country. He said there might be room for adjustment for each location.
He also said a way to prevent such incidents is for census officials to have discussions with local officials in advance.
That would include meetings with county police chiefs, said Larry L. Butrick, assistant U.S. attorney.
Haas said he had been working the Puna area for at least a month when police arrested him. He continued collecting census data after his arrest.
Note: Haas continued collecting census data after his arrest. Isn’t this a violation of the Bureau’s own policies?
Ex-workers in California count allege falsified data, inaccuracy.
Posted at 09:18 PM on Thursday, Aug. 05, 2010By 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.Read more: http://www.fresnobee.com/2010/08/05/2031953/census-results-called-into-question.html#ixzz0w2VojsNA
There are many mysteries surrounding Census Coverage Management. (Some are discussed here in this Powerpoint presentation.) The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published some critiques/suggestions for CCM back in April, but it is unknown if these recommendations have been implemented. Today, out of the blue, I received some updates to my FOIA request from February that sought to examine correspondences between various officials. (Presumably, this sudden appearance of information had something to do with the fallout of Mr. Jost’s mention of this request the other day in the comments section of this blog.) If you start at page 32, you will get to read quite a bit of information about Census Coverage Management, a most important 2010 Census operation. Here’s the document: