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 the ‘MyTwoCensus Editorials’ Category

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Heads Should Fly…NOW!!!

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

UPDATE: The Inspector General’s report is available HERE.

Though we are yet to obtain a hard copy of the Inspector General’s report that will be released within the next two hours that details how the Census Bureau went massively over budget during the address canvassing phase of the decennial census, we believe that Census Bureau employees should be held accountable. Without making false accusations,  here is a list of names of people who, according to the positions they hold at the Census Bureau , should be held accountable and punishedmeaning demoted or fired – for this waste (in order of culpability from worst offenders to more moderate offenders…):

1. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR DECENNIAL CENSUS – ARNOLD A. JACKSON

2. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR ACS AND DECENNIAL CENSUS – DANIEL H. WEINBERG

3. COMPTROLLER -  ANDREW H. MOXAM

4. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR FIELD OPERATIONS – MARILIA A. MATOS

5.  HUMAN RESOURCES CHIEF -  TYRA DENT SMITH

6. TECHNOLOGIES MANAGEMENT OFFICE CHIEF – BARBARA M. LOPRESTI

7. FIELD CHIEF – BRIAN MONAGHAN

And while these deputies and senior Census Bureau employees are responsible for their actions, they answer directly to three men: Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves, Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Mesenbourg, and Associate Director For Communications Steve Jost, who are in that order, the three top dogs so to speak at the Census Bureau. Perhaps the man who is most to blame for the widespread failures is Mr. Mesenbourg, who served as Acting Director of the Census Bureau for more than a year before Dr. Groves was installed in office. Mesenbourg continues to oversee an agency filled with miserable and inexcusable performance results, yet he has done little to enact change. Nonetheless, neither Dr. Groves nor Steve Jost should be let slide for these actions. While both of them consistently discuss looking toward the future, they can’t seem to take responsibility for cleaning up the mess that was present at the Census Bureau when they arrived. To play on Shakespeare’s words, “There’s Something Rotten In Suitland!”

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Now Is The Time To Print The 2010 Census Form In Creole

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Back on July 30, 2009, we published an article titled “Trouble in Florida for Haitians” detailing the problem of the Census Bureau’s choice not to use Creole as one of the 27 languages other than English that will appear on 2010 Census forms. In the wake of last month’s earthquake, and with an influx of refugees pouring into the United States (and Florida in particular), this decision now appears less intelligent than ever. MyTwoCensus.com is also surprised that the mainstream media has failed to pick up on this, and we urge media outlets to report this story. Are there a million Creole speakers in America? 1.5 million? More? This is an example of yet another community getting the shaft based on poor planning…but the Census Bureau still has time to act and create a creole language 2010 Census form as well as an ad campaign targeting creole-speakers. To the Census Bureau officials reading this: Please take our advice, and start this process ASAP!

MyTwoCensus Editorial: New Web Site Is A Step Forward, But Analytics Data Must Be Provided

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

A government agency with a beautiful web site is rare, and only when the Obama Administration redesigned and modernized WhiteHouse.gov were the American people able to get access to the sort of web site that should be standard for online government publications. Building off the success of the Obama ‘08 campaign’s successful use of social media, we are glad to see that the Census Bureau has, as of yesterday, gone above and beyond 21st century governmental web site norms by redesigning 2010.Census.gov. The new site embraces the Obama rhetoric that advocates interactivity and transparency even further than WhiteHouse.gov. 

From a practical perspective, one of the best features of this new site will be the ability to track census questionnaire response rates of individual states and locales as the data results come in. (We hope that Steve Jost and the communications team at the Census Bureau will make it a priority to update this data on a daily basis.) If nothing else, this feature will motivate states, municipalities, and other regional districts to improve their participation numbers before the non-response follow up period ends. This part of the new site will also encourage friendly rivalries between politicians, states, and municipalities which will likely result in free and positive press for the Census Bureau. We also hope that Dr. Groves and other bloggers for the 2010 Census site continue to provide new information at frequent intervals. 

While the idea of a new and improved web site is wonderful, if few people are viewing it, then it won’t have the impact it needs. MyTwoCensus urges the Census Bureau to release the analytics data detailing the number of unique users per day on its new web site, particularly as it compares to the analytics data of the old web site. We hope to see the numbers of viewers for each individual page of the web site as well. This is the only way that MyTwoCensus and other watchdog/non-profit organizations will be able to accurately track the success of the redesign. Additionally, if the Census Bureau’s site redesign becomes a statistical success, then perhaps other government agencies will follow suit by improving their interactivity and transparency, which will be a great step forward for American society.

 

It should be noted that the redesign of 2010.Census.gov was a combined effort of the Census Bureau with private sector advertising firm Draftfcb.

A quick note from the editor…

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Personally, I believe that the debate in Congress about the 2010 Census being altered to require that only citizens are counted is nonsense. This movement only has traction from elected officials who feel their seats are threatened by immigrants. It will not go far. I am surprised that the media is giving it so much hype. There must not be anything else to discuss. Good job as usual mainstream media by blowing things out of proportion!

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Dr. Groves, You’ve Got Your Stats Wrong This Time

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Today, the Washington Post reported the following:

Robert Groves said the bureau is trying to determine whether it is feasible to require a second security check on job candidates whose fingerprints cannot be read the first time they are run through the FBI database. The bureau is spending $100 million this year checking fingerprints, the first time it has done so for temporary workers.

Last week, the GAO said it estimated that more than200 temporary employees with unreadable prints might have criminal records that should have disqualified them from being hired.

Groves said people whose prints are hard to decipher tend to be older workers whose ridges have worn down with age or manual workers whose jobs have made their prints less sharp. The average age of temporary census workers with unreadable prints was 63 for men and 55 for women.

While it may be true that the fingerprints of older workers are more difficult to read, this should not take away from the fact that no individuals with disqualifying criminal records should be hired to work for the census. And who’s to say that there are not older individuals who have criminal records? MyTwoCensus.com disagrees with Dr. Groves’ efforts to brush off the GAO’s findings as inconsequential or overstated.  In fact, we suspect that individuals with criminal records would know how to easily go undetected by the Census Bureau’s lax fingerprinting procedures, a topic that we will cover in greater depth in the near future.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Keep Up The Good Work Dr. Groves!

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

At Dr. Robert M. Groves’ confirmation hearing to become the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, it was reassuring to hear a career statistician and manager discuss his vision for a Bureau that was in great need of reform. However, at that time it was only natural to worry that Groves was simply a man of words who needed to get past what could have been a controversial confirmation process. Four months after making many promises to change the Bureau, Dr. Groves has proven that he follows through with actions.

Despite GOP partisans stalling Dr. Groves’ nomination over concerns that he would bring his political views to the 2010 Census, Dr. Groves’ has proven to a level-headed, fair, honest, transparent, and decisive leader. As he stated yesterday at his first major press conference, he is constantly trying to be persuaded to enter the political fray but fights every day to maintain his independence. Dr. Groves’ rejection of political overtures is what will make his tenure different than those of past Census Bureau leaders.

An excellent Census Bureau director must have superior statistical knowledge, superb management skills, and an ability to answer honestly to both politicians and the public. In his first months in this role, Dr. Groves has succeeded in all of these areas. With his decision to terminate the Census Bureau’s partnership with ACORN, Dr. Groves unequivocally proved himself as a leader who put the Bureau and the people of this nation ahead of the Democrats who supported him from day one and the president who nominated him.

Dr. Groves inherited a Census Bureau that was filled with disorganization, mismanagement, and a lack of foresight. Turning this agency around cannot occur overnight, and MyTwoCensus does not place blame on on Dr. Groves for most failures of the 2010 Census. Though his first 70 days in office have been marked by success and progress, there is still much work to be done with April 1, 2010 only six months away.

How do you count the drunks on Bourbon Street? Go bar to bar.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

The following report from the Associated Press makes us wonder if we are really living in the year 2010 or 1910, as technology continues to elude us and door-to-door interaction is on the rise. Nonetheless, the MyTwoCensus team applauds the decision of Census Director Robert M. Groves to accurately count the residents of New Orleans without succumbing to the partisan interests of New Orleans’ often-controversial mayor, Ray Nagin. Nagin’s call to count former residents of New Orleans who no longer live there as current New Orleans residents is selfish and detrimental for the rest of the country. If former residents were counted as still living in New Orleans, then the municipalities where these people currently reside would not receive the proper federal funding that they deserve and need to compensate for the extra bodies.


By BECKY BOHRER (AP) – 6 hours ago

NEW ORLEANS — Census forms will be hand-delivered in the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas affected by the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita to get the most accurate count possible following concerns that the region could lose federal representation and funding.

The measures announced by U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves on Tuesday did not go as far as those sought by Mayor Ray Nagin and some advocacy groups to locally count potentially thousands of former residents scattered across the country who are trying to come back.

By at least one estimate, 75 percent of New Orleans’ pre-Katrina population has returned in the nearly four years since the Aug. 29, 2005, storm and levee breaches. In some neighborhoods, there remain huge swaths of empty homes.

Groves said he shared Nagin’s concerns, but “the proposal to count people where they want to be is something that would really be a massive change.”

Census rules dictate people be counted “in their abodes,” as of Census Day, he said, and Congress has not changed the law to reflect situations like refugees of Katrina and other disasters, missionaries spending time overseas or noncitizens being included in the count.

“So we have to follow the law,” Groves said. “In the 2010 Census, we’ll count people where they usually live.”

Census workers in the region are expected to hand-deliver an estimated 300,000 questionnaires to homes in 11 south Louisiana parishes affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Additional hand deliveries are expected in parts of Mississippi’s Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, also affected by the 2005 storms, and parts of Galveston Island, Texas, which was hit by Hurricane Ike last summer, said Jeff Behler, deputy regional director of the census’ Dallas office.

Census officials said 2,400 workers would be hired in the New Orleans-area office, but they could not immediately provide a total cost for hand-delivering forms. They said hand deliveries are sometimes used in very rural parts of the country and on some tribal lands.

Nagin repeated his call Tuesday to include former residents who moved away from the city and are working to come back, saying an accurate count is “essential” for the future of the region and providing needed services to displaced residents when they return.

“We’re looking forward to a good count, as high as we can possibly get it,” Nagin said.

There’s a lot at stake: the 10-year count, which starts with surveys going out in March, will help decide congressional representation and distribution of at least $400 billion a year in federal funds across the country.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: 39 Days Without A Leader

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

It has been 39 days since Robert M. Groves’ U.S. Senate confirmation hearing, yet one anonymous GOP senator has held up his confirmation. As I have previously stated, if said GOP senator has good reason to hold up the hearing, then explain your reasoning to the public (or your own colleagues at the very least). If said GOP senator is taking this action to stall the confirmation for political gain, this is a terrible detriment to the American people at a critical time for the Census Bureau. I am shocked that the mainstream media has not reported on this delay for the past two weeks. It is a travesty that this lack of transparency and accountability is allowed to take place. MyTwoCensus calls on anyone with information as to which senator has caused this delay to please contact us.

Open Letter to the GOP Senator Who Blocked Robert Groves’

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Dear Senator,

It is now known that one GOP Senator has blocked Robert Groves’ nomination to become the next Census Director. MyTwoCensus.com is very interested in learning why this has occurred. If this nomination has been held up for a good reason, please contact us and share your story. Keeping your colleagues and the public in the dark won’t help anyone.

Best regards,

Stephen Robert Morse and the MyTwoCensus Team

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Continue outreach by using highly skilled professionals

Monday, June 8th, 2009

In recent editorials, MyTwoCensus has questioned the effectiveness of the U.S. Census Bureau’s outreach efforts. However, today, at San Francisco’s Israel in the Gardens celebration, I was able to witness firsthand the effectiveness of highly qualified partnership specialist Pnina Levermore as she communicated with hundreds of members of the Bay Area community who don’t necessarily speak English as their first language. As a long-time employee of Russian and Jewish community organizations in the Bay Area, Levermore is a huge asset to the Census Bureau. I watched as she bounced between English and Russian, fielding inquiries from children as young as five to octogenarians (who have surely lived through many decennial headcounts), answering all questions asked of her with accuracy and care.

Levermore went so far as to create her own Russian language handout about the 2010 Census (we have been told that the Census Bureau will have their own national handouts printed in many languages soon) to distribute at this event.

The Census Bureau should continue to hire highly skilled people like Levermore. Many of the millions of Americans who applied for jobs at the Census Bureau speak more than one language, but hiring someone who has a deep knowledge of the community he/she will be assisting as well as the foreign language skills that he/she will be using on the job is of the utmost importance. We urge the local and regional 2010 Census offices to hire partnership specialists based on intangible factors that won’t necessarily show up on job applications and will only be revealed after in-person interviews and carefully examining individuals’ personalities.

We applaud the San Francisco 2010 Census Office for hiring someone like Levermore and we hope that other offices around the country will follow suit with similar practices.