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 ‘Operations’ Category

Transcript of Census Bureau’s latest operational press briefing

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Unfortunately, at the last minute, other work prevented me from calling in to the 2010 Census press briefing. Nonetheless, here is the transcript of the event. These are some highlights that I have selected…(Remember, these people are professionals who know how to lie with statistics!):

1. We have just completed all of the interviewing for this decade’s post enumeration survey which we call the Census Coverage Measurement Operation. In a nutshell, things went well. Let me give you some statistics on that. We had a big interviewing force, as we did in the census itself. We had re-interviews of their work to check whether they were following training guidelines. 99.7 percent of those interviewers passed that reinterviewing check. Another way of saying that, we only had 18 interviewers that failed that check.

2. On the other hand, and a negative signal, is in the year 2000 about 0.14 percent of the cases when we finished all of our efforts we still didn’t have a population count on, it was a non-interview case. This time, that 0.14 has risen to 1.54 percent.

3. This year, we’re estimating at this point that about 96.5 percent of the addresses match up to the master address file that we used to mail out all the cases. Last time, in 2000, that 96.5 percent number was 91.4. Similarly, 96 percent of the cases we judge were correctly enumerated. Based on that match, compared to about 89.9 percent in 2000.

4, Let me turn to big operational issues. We had 494 local census offices. We’re closing those down in a very careful manner. We’ve closed more than 59 percent of them at this point. As of this morning, that’s 293. We think we’ll close all of those by November 12. This is not just kind of locking the doors and walking away. We have computer networks in these offices. We have a team that goes in and completely sanitizes the computer, the desktops, the Xerox machines. We want to make sure every trace of confidential information is wiped off these machines before they’re moved out of there.

5. So for those kind of checkbox fields, we failed to read about .1 percent of those in 2000. This time, we failed to read .03 percent.

AOL News: 2010 Census reveals possible undercount

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

MyTwoCensus thanks the astute reader who noticed this article (published 4 days ago) about a 2010 Census undercount (written by Andrea Stone, AOL’s Senior Washington Correspondent) that was then mysteriously removed from the internet by AOL. We’re not sure if this was because of an inaccuracy or some other reason. Nonetheless, here is a saved PDF file that shows the article. What do you think?

Countdown to Congressional reapportionment: 56 days

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

As mandated by the Constitution, this data must be delivered to the President of the United States on or before Dec. 31. That means we’ve got 56 days to go, but word is out that the information will appear around December 26.

How will big GOP wins at the state level affect redistricting?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

The media is still focusing on the big GOP wins in the House of Representatives. Only a few commentators have noticed the huge gains that Republicans have made at the state level. Here’s some analysis from the Wall Street Journal:

Gains in eight states—including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin— gave the GOP control of the governor’s office and both legislative chambers. Republicans will be in charge there when drawing new congressional maps, something every legislature must do following each 10-year federal census. Minnesota could join the list depending on the outcome of a governor’s race that was still too close to call as of Wednesday evening.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans now hold the largest share of state legislative seats—53%—since 1928. The party added at least 680 seats Tuesday, the largest gain by either party since 1966, the bipartisan group said.

The authority to carve out districts helps create safe congressional seats for the party in charge. Only a handful of states put the redistricting process in the hands of an independent commission.

“We should be able to pick up at least two-dozen seats,” said Frank Donatelli, the chairman of GOPAC, a political-action committee formed in 1979 to fight for state-level Republicans. “We are in better shape than at any time since the 1960s.”

Democrats didn’t gain control of an additional chamber in any state.

Census Bureau will hold press briefing later today…

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Feel free to listen in on the phone!

** CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORY **

Census Bureau Director to Provide Update on
Status of 2010 Census Operations

What:       U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves will brief the
media on the status of 2010 Census operations. Groves will discuss
the final 2010 Census mail participation rates and 2020 Census
planning.  The briefing will include a media question-and-answer
session.

When:    Monday, Nov. 1, 2 to 3 p.m. (EDT)

Who:         Robert M. Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau

Where:   National Press Club, 13th floor
Holeman Lounge
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20045

Members of the media may also participate by telephone. (Please dial-in
early to allow time for the operator to place you in the call.)

Dial-in number:  888-603-8938
Passcode:  2010 CENSUS

Online Press Kit:
Event materials will be posted online shortly after the event begins and
can be accessed by clicking on the 2010 Census Operational Press briefing
at <http://2010.census.gov/news/press-kits/operational-press-briefing/>.

Webcast:
There will be a live webcast of the briefing, accessible at
<http://www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=73902> at 2 p.m. (EDT) on
event day.

Note to America: Your 2010 Census data is being handed over to private citizens

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

The Census Bureau has long touted that it keeps data private and confidential for 70 years after it is gathered. This concept proved to be false as recently as 2004, when the Census Bureau didn’t put up a fight as it turned over information about Arab-Americans to other government agencies.

The Census Bureau also readily hands over data to research centers at universities, both public and private. This is a little-known program that has not been mentioned in the press. While I may personally agree that universities with data access can provide benefits for society, I stand against the Census Bureau handing over this data on the principle that  the American people have not agreed that the Census Bureau can use their data in this way.

Take a look at this recent Census Bureau press release that highlights the 10+ sites around the country where universities have access to your data:

The Center for Economic Studies at the U.S. Census Bureau, in
partnership with the University of Minnesota, has opened a new Research
Data Center (RDC) laboratory on the university’s campus in Minneapolis.

RDCs are Census Bureau facilities where researchers from academia,
federal agencies and other institutions with approved projects receive
restricted access to unpublished Census Bureau demographic and economic
microdata files. These secure facilities are staffed by Census Bureau
employees and meet stringent physical and computer security requirements
for access to confidential data.

“The Minnesota Research Data Center will serve researchers from a broad
range of academic disciplines, with particular strengths in demography and
public health,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “The Minnesota
RDC will contribute not only by providing researchers with assistance in
using the demographic, business and health data but also by developing
improved or new data collections.”

“The research lab is housed in the Minnesota Population Center (MPC),
which has a tradition of collaboration with the Census Bureau and other
statistical agencies. As a world leader in the improvement, dissemination
and analysis of census data, MPC is equipped to make unique contributions
to the RDC program,” Groves said.

Before gaining access to the information at RDCs, researchers must
submit proposals to the RDC and the Census Bureau for approval. The review
process ensures that proposed research is feasible, has scientific merit
and benefits Census Bureau programs. In addition, RDC operating procedures,
strict security and strong legal safeguards assure the confidentiality of
these data as required by law. Researchers, for instance, must pass a full
background investigation and are sworn for life to protect the
confidentiality of the data they access, with violations subject to
significant financial and legal penalties.

The Minnesota Census Research Data Center joins similar centers that
have been established in Boston; Berkeley, Calif.; Los Angeles; Washington;
Chicago; Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York; Ithaca, N.Y.; and Durham, N.C. The
center at Berkeley has a branch at Stanford University in Palo Alto,
Calif., while the center at Durham has recently opened a branch at Research
Triangle Park, N.C. An additional center is scheduled to open at a site in
Atlanta in spring 2011.

BS Alert: PBOCS system creators claim that the 2010 Census operations were successful…Lies, lies, and more lies!

Monday, October 25th, 2010

To any investors out there, this is as much of a bull-shit alert as I can possibly give you. As MyTwoCensus has repeatedly noted, and the Census Bureau has repeatedly acknowledged, the PBOCS systems used during 2010 Census operations were complete failures that created problems resulting in severely delayed operations (thousands of workers sat around waiting for assignments) and mismanaged data (2010 Census forms had to be manually imported at a snail’s pace, and who knows how many of these never made it into the system at all…). But the PR teams below state otherwise:

Rally helps ICS deliver mandated requirements 50% faster using 1/3 staff of previous efforts and demonstrates best practices for improving U.S. government’s outsourced IT operations

WASHINGTON and BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ — Rally®, the leader in Agile application lifecycle management (ALM), and ICS, a proven 8(a) information technology contractor, today announced that Rally’s Agile ALM platform played a central role in the success of ICS’s work in support of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 decennial census.

Rally Unlimited Edition enabled the 2010 Census Agile ICS software development team to deliver the Census Bureau’s paper-based operations control system (PBOCS) software over 50% faster than delivery times of the 2000 or the 1990 census software, with just 1/3 of the staff. By tracking its software development process with Rally, ICS not only delivered software requirements and met immovable deadlines, but exceeded expectations by delivering an additional software module.

“The efficiencies we realized with Rally are a perfect example of the change being driven within the government to improve the performance of IT operations across the board,” said Khurram Shah, ICS founding partner and chief strategy officer. “The velocity and productivity gains Rally brought to the 2010 Census Agile ICS development team enabled us to deliver applications that processed more data at a much faster rate than during previous Census operations.”

About the United States Census

The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution to gather statistics on the U.S. population. The data collected helps determine the number of seats states have in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the 2010 Census, this data also helps communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year.

“Because Census deadlines are mandated by the Constitution, there’s no question that the execution, performance and timing of our software development operation was critical,” said Erika Peace, technical project manager at ICS. “Rally provided the right tools at the right time so we could cost-effectively deliver technology more accurately aligned with our client’s business objectives.”

Challenges

Software development requirements are defined by the mandate that decennial U.S. Census figures are based on actual counts of every person dwelling in U.S. residential structures. Delivery dates are immovable, as the Census Bureau is required by law to report the nation’s population and the allotment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for each state by the end of December. The 2010 Census Agile ICS software development team also had to adapt to changing requirements and unique circumstances, such as the challenges around accurately counting “group quarters,” like college students living in dormitories.

Solution and Results

The 2010 Census Agile ICS software development team brought in Agile development practices to deliver 12 key requirements for the Census Bureau’s paper-based operations control system (PBOCS) software. By implementing Rally Unlimited Edition to provide the real-time status, progress and quality of the Census Bureau’s software development processes, the Agile ICS team over-delivered ahead of schedule – completing all requirements in just 18 months with just 1/3 of the staff.

“By taking advantage of Rally’s Agile ALM platform, the 2010 Census Agile ICS software development team was able to help the Census Bureau improve the speed and accuracy of the 2010 census-taking process in response to the ever-increasing population of the United States,” said Ryan Martens, Rally’s founder and CTO. “Demonstrating that Agile practices meet federal schedule performance index requirements allows Rally’s Agile ALM platform to align with government projects.”

In order to achieve critical requirements within the allotted timeframe, every incremental build resulted in shippable, working software. The 2010 Census Agile ICS software development team used Rally to meet changing requirements, build incrementally and turn deliverables around quickly. Requirements, acceptance tests and source code changes were tracked in Rally’s Agile ALM platform, giving the team rapid feedback on the status and quality of each build.

Rally’s powerful reporting capabilities were critical for providing data analysis, progress reports and status updates to government officials on a daily basis. Providing real-time visibility to senior government officials was vital for making informed decisions, assessing scope change and tracking team progress to delivery.

While addressing the National Press Club, Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert Groves summed up the importance of the PBOCS software delivered by ICS and how well it was performing when he said, “This software system, called the Paper-Based Operation Control System (PBOCS), performs various functions that are really crucial for the non-response follow-up phase…we’re processing at rates that we never imagined we could process.” (1)

Government Agile Success Tour

Rally is hosting a special edition of its Agile Success Tour on October 21, 2010 in Bedford, MA for those working in Federal contracting environments. This free, interactive half-day seminar is intended for anyone who is adopting or considering adopting Agile development practices for government software projects. Northrop Grumman and Rally Software will discuss real-life Agile implementation stories from the Department of Defense, civilian agencies, and state and local governments.

About ICS

ICS is a certified 8(a), Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) founded in 2003 by seasoned technology professionals.  ICS has proven an innovative designing experience that is client-focused, developing quality solutions in mission critical environments in the public and private sector.

ICS is comprised of experienced management and technically agile professionals with diverse competencies, creating a collaborative program and project management environment for clients. The size of the organization, coupled with the focused range of services performed, enables the company to rapidly source and retain thoroughly trained, certified professionals with tested, measurable performance and proven experience.

About Rally

Rally is the recognized leader in Agile application lifecycle management (ALM). We are dedicated to helping organizations embrace Agile and Lean development practices that increase the pace of innovation and improve product quality. According to a study by QSM Associates, software-driven companies that rely on Rally’s Agile ALM products and services are 50% faster to market and 25% more productive than industry averages. The company’s experienced services group, including training through Agile University, guides companies through the organizational change required to become innovative, Agile businesses. Rally’s products, including AgileZen, currently support more than 3,000 corporate customers, 76,000 projects and 138,000 users in 60 countries. For more information, visit www.rallydev.com.

(1) Dr. Groves briefing at the National Press Club on June 2nd, 2010; transcript available here.

Rally, the Rally logo, Rally Software Development, and AgileZen are trademarks of Rally Software Development Corp. Third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Census Bureau Press Release: Nation Achieves 74 Percent Final Mail Participation in 2010 Census

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Editor’s Note: The Census Bureau spent $340 million on ads for the 2010 Census…way more than it spent in 2000, while it achieved the same response rate.

Here’s the press release:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that 74 percent of households in the United States filled out and mailed back their 2010 Census questionnaire, matching the final mail participation rate achieved in the 2000 Census. Twenty-two states, 1,553 counties, and 278 cities and townships with a population of 50,000 or more met or exceeded their 2000 Census participation rates. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico also met or exceeded their rates.

The final 74 percent mail participation rate includes an additional 2 percent of households that mailed back their forms after April 27, when the U.S. Census Bureau announced a 72 percent participation rate. While these forms were received too late to prevent a visit by a census taker, they were included in the final tally. “We are very pleased with the public’s response to the 2010 Census, and these results demonstrate that the public stepped up to be counted,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said.

Approximately 47 million households that did not mail back a census form by the deadline were visited by census takers in person as part of a series
of operations and methods to ensure as complete a count as possible. The Census Bureau either received a form or attempted repeated visits to 100
percent of the identified housing units in the country. “As the law requires, we look forward to reporting to the nation by Dec. 31 the national and state populations as well as the allocation of seats to each state in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Groves said.
The final mail participation rates for the nation, states, counties, cities, towns and even the neighborhood level can now be found on the 2010 Census website (http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/2010textview.php).

Below are final mail participation results from the 20 largest cities nationwide based on 2008 population estimates.

Highest Mail Participation Rates: Cities with Populations Over 100,000

Cities                   Percent
Livonia, Mich.             88
Rochester, Minn.           83
Centennial, Colo.          83
Sterling Heights, Mich.       83
Naperville, Ill.           83
Olathe, Kan.               82
Arvada, Colo.              82
Cary, N.C.                 82
Hialeah, Fla.              82
Madison, Wis.              82
Thousand Oaks, Calif.         81
Warren, Mich.              81
Overland Park, Kan.           81
Boise, Idaho               81
Billings, Mont.            80
Ann Arbor, Mich.           80
Independence, Mo.          80
Sioux Falls, S.D.          80
Chesapeake, Va.            80
Lincoln, Neb.              80

2010 Census oversight team wins award

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The Commerce Department Inspector General has been recognized for an award by the professional organization that unites the Inspector Generals of all government agencies…Here’s the brief from Ed O’Keefe:

The Commerce Department’s 2010 Census Oversight Team will be honored for “exemplary service” for a recurring series of reports on the planning, coordination, and execution of the largest decennial census in American history. (Example: Census workers who did no work were paid.)

Both the Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office both did some excellent work in the past few years by shedding light on major inefficiencies related to the 2010 Census and doing their best to correct many debacles.

Update to photo contest: The $500 photo of 2010 Census WASTE is here!

Friday, October 8th, 2010

The following photo of 2010 Census waste comes from a local census office in a major city. To protect the employee involved, I will not say which region until that person grants me permission to do so. Feel free to write your captions for this photo in the comments section below. Be aware, there is no Title 13 or PII-protected information in this photo. We are also curiously wondering why some leftover items have been donated to schools while others headed straight to the dump, depending on which office was responsible. MyTwoCensus is awaiting the Census Bureau’s response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that was filed a couple of months back that further examines the 2010 Census waste disposal contracts. Remember, a picture’s worth a thousand words:

Data releases begin; more to come

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

H/t to Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post for the following:

“We’re going to be releasing a lot of population data in the coming months,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said last week at a meeting with reporters. “There is a potential for confusion.” (See a full schedule below.)

Indeed. For example, the ranks of the nation’s poor rose last year, according to Census statistics released Tuesday.

Those stats come from the American Community Survey, a questionnaire randomly sent on an annual basis to households nationwide. The survey helps determine the status of 40 different topic areas, including annual income, housing levels, educational attainment, family structure, commute times and the number of disabled people.

Some conservative activists and Republican lawmakers wrongly assumed that these questions were part of the 2010 Census forms. But no, the ACS replaced the old census “long form” that was randomly sent to some households in the past. (And yes, skeptics: It is constitutional for the Census Bureau to ask questions beyond a simple count of people.)

In December the Census Bureau will release ACS statistics based on data collected between 2005 and 2009 for geographic areas of all sizes. A third set of ACS data collected between 2007 and 2009 and covering all areas with populations of 20,000 or more will be released in January.

The results of the 10-question decennial census forms completed earlier this year will be released in December, as required by the U.S. Constitution. (Article 1, Section 2 states that “[An] enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.”)

The December release will include the nation’s new total population figures and state-by-state congressional apportionment information. Other information on redistricting will be released in February or March.

UPCOMING CENSUS BUREAU RELEASES:

OCTOBER:
2009 American Community Survey estimates

DECEMBER:
2010 Census state counts

Census Bureau demographic analysis

2005-2009 American Community Survey estimates

JANUARY:
2007-2009 American Community Survey estimates

FEBRUARY TO MARCH:
Redistricting data from the 2010 Census

Note to potential whistleblowers in Detroit

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

To any whistleblowers in the Detroit region:

I am not sure why, but someone has told you to direct your complaints to Thomas Hugh Chodzko, the Detroit region’s Assistant Regional Census Manager. It has been verified from multiple sources that Mr. Chodzko is in cahoots with Dwight Dean, the corrupt long-time head of the Detroit office who is currently under investigation for his activities. (As we recently noted, Mr. Dean “retired” as of September 1.) It appears that if you contact Mr. Chodzko, your complaints will never reach the appropriate authorities in Washington. Instead, please contact the Commerce Department Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office. The letter below shows that Mr. Chodzko is writing (and signing letters — look at the signature closely) on Mr. Dean’s behalf:

Transcript from latest Census Bureau press conference

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Unfortunately, I was unable to be in Washington for last Wednesday’s press conference. However, the transcript is available HERE.

Las Vegas money well spent…hardly

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Update: To clarify, Michael Cook of the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office has noted in the comments section that the below event differs from the $100,000 trip to the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas that CBS recently investigated.

Thanks to the reader who alerted us to this YouTube video that was uploaded in August. Dozens (perhaps hundreds) of people watch a woman sing a mediocre a cappella rendition “I Love Rock & Roll” and this supports the 2010 Census in what way?

The price tag of 2010 Census managers go to Vegas baby, Vegas…

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com broke the story that managers from the Denver region (140 of them) went to Vegas for a “debriefing.” Unfortunately, Steve Jost and the Census Bureau Public Information Office never returned my calls/e-mails requesting the PRICE TAG of this event. Now, a month later, a CBS affiliate in Denver has taken up this case, as has a Congressman from Colorado:

A CBS 4 investigation has learned the U.S. Census Bureau sent 140 administrators from Colorado and nine other Rocky Mountain and southwestern states to Las Vegas for several days to discuss “lessons learned” from the 2010 census that could be applied in the next census in 2020. The trip cost an estimated $100,000 in airfare, meals and hotel costs and is coming under withering criticism from a Colorado congressman.

“It’s impossible to argue this without saying these folks took a vacation and they took it at taxpayer expense,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican congressman from Colorado. “I mean I think it’s the equivalent of theft,” said Coffman, who insisted the Census Bureau could have saved taxpayers money by gathering the same information from administrators by conducting online and written surveys, phone conferencing and a host of other data-gathering methods that would not involve congregating in Las Vegas.

“You need to be respectful of taxpayers. Don’t waste their money on a three-day party in Las Vegas or anywhere else to have discussions you can have via a written survey.”

The CBS4 investigation learned that the Census administrators were flown to Las Vegas Aug. 24 and put up at the luxurious Treasure Island hotel and casino on the Las Vegas strip. Some of the managers stayed for two days, others stayed for three. The Census Bureau obtained a government rate of $61 per night per room with every 40th room free, according to census officials.

While census officials say they haven’t tabulated exact costs for the trip, the federal government per diem rate for meals is $71 per day and $53.25 on travel days.

CBS4 has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the federal government to obtain precise costs for the trip. Census officials were not able to provide cost estimates for flying in managers from Colorado, Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada.

“It helps to have an exchange of information and ideas,” said Steve Jost, Associate Director for Communications for the Census Bureau.

Jost told CBS4 that the post-census meeting took place in Las Vegas because it had the lowest airfares, hotel costs and meeting room charges in the region. Jost said a meeting like the one that took place in Vegas “improves quality and processes and allows us to be efficient.” Jost said the debriefing involved three senior managers from each Census field office in the region and that they discussed “what worked, what didn’t work, how we can improve, training, monitoring big tough questions.”

Asked why the Census Bureau couldn’t have saved taxpayers money by gathering the information by surveys or electronically, Jost said his agency has had video meetings, webinars and has done mail and web-based surveys. But he said, “Sometimes you just need to sit down and hash things out face to face with these people.”

Another Census spokesperson, Raul Cisneros, told CBS4 the gathering only involved 1/4 of one percent of Census employees in the Denver region.

“We wanted to have face-to-face meetings so we could drill down and cover key topics,” Cisneros said. “This is standard management practice … we want to get that local knowledge.”

Coffman said he agrees that “after action,” data gathering is important. But he said it could have been done other ways and “this is an absolute waste of taxpayer dollars.”

In the past, President Obama has been critical of holding meetings in Las Vegas. Obama criticized corporate CEOs for junkets to Las Vegas. He told an audience in Elkhart, Ind., “You can’t get corporate jets, can’t take a trip to Vegas or the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime. There’s got to be accountability and responsibility, something I intend to impose as president of the United States.”

And after taking office, Obama again criticized spending money in Las Vegas.

“When times are tough you tighten your belt. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize, you make tough choices. Its time your government did the same.”

CBS4 has learned the Las Vegas meeting was actually one of a dozen that involved flying census managers into central locations and putting them up at hotels. The Census Bureau has 12 regional offices in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Seattle. The Census Bureau held similar “lessons learned” debriefing sessions in each region.

Follow up: Census Bureau gives “awards” to organizations that did “nothing more than cover” the 2010 Census

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

I came across a cheeky and informative post from the Willammette Week, a publication based in Portland, Oregon about the Census Bureau’s “awards” scheme. Here’s the post:

IMG_0066
Look what we got recently! It’s a plaque from the United States Census Bureau!

The Census Bureau tells us in an email the plaque cost $6.95 and that it sent 135 of these plaques to organizations in Portland as a token of gratitude for helping out with this past census. That works out to about $938 in Portland, not including shipping,

Wondering how that played out around the country? We did too. About 59,000 of the plaques were sent nationwide. Multiply that by their $6.95 cost and that’s about $410,000 worth of gratitude, again not including shipping.

These plaques and thank-you letters were sent to organizations “that collectively provided countless donated goods and services to the 2010 Census effort,” according to an email from Census Bureau spokeswoman Michelle Lowe. Lowe’s email also states that some of the plaques went to organizations that helped save the census bureau $23 million by providing resources to help “test and train” census workers and to other news organizations who did nothing more than cover the census like we did.

Um, thanks.

IMG_0072

Note: Somebody at the Census Bureau has decided to make the word “newspaper” into the words “news paper.” The grammar police who have commented on MyTwoCensus so many times should be all over the Census Bureau for this egregious error.

Census Bureau spends tons of your $$ on “awards”

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Thanks to the reader who alerted us to an investigation into how much money the Census Bureau spent giving out “awards” that came to roughly $7 per award. Here’s an excerpt:

The latest award-winning idea from the Census Bureau is literally an award. As we learned at George Levy Awards, there are all sorts of awards and the Census Bureau was frugal in avoiding the most expensive award. However, it sent 59,000 awards to people, including the media, who helped get out the word about the census.

And while the sign at the Census Bureau says, “Warning! U.S. Government”, some are saying it should say, “Warning! Your tax dollars are being wasted.”

While we certainly appreciate the Census Bureau giving 10 News an award for doing our job, some taxpayers say that it is not a good use of public money.

Melanie Capello says she thinks it is ridiculous that taxpayer money should be spent to give news outlets awards. Ben Jones told us he would like to see taxpayer money spent more wisely.

While the Census Bureau says the awards are a small way to thank those who helped, and it is keeping a watchful eye on tax dollars, taxpayers aren’t convinced.

What’s this latest census venture costing you? The cost for the awards is $ 413,000.

Dwight Dean, former head of the corrupt Detroit office, no longer with the Census Bureau

Friday, September 10th, 2010

After a reader tipped us off earlier this week, it has been confirmed by Steve Jost that Dwight Dean, formerly the long-time head of the troubled Detroit Regional Census Center, is no longer with the Census Bureau as of September 1. Word on the street is that he “retired.” MyTwoCensus urges federal, state, and local agencies to continue their investigations into the improprieties of the Detroit office. (We will be providing a series of follow-ups on the Detroit corruption story coming this week!)

Waste in New York – Please take photos!!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
If you want to see about one thousand boxes of materials that were printed and never used being thrown out, the waste hauler is coming to these offices after 2pm today. The boxes will be sealed with the word RECYCLE marked on it. 1361 Amsterdam Avenue between West 125th and West 126th Street, (the freight entrance is around the corner) and 423 West 127 Street (no freight entrance)
$250 for any photos of this waste!

Census Bureau official criticizes $1.6 billion savings

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

An anonymous Census Bureau official submitted the following to MyTwoCensus.com:

Last week Commerce Secretary Locke touted the Census Bureau’s $1.6 billion cost savings which they will return to the Treasury.  But I agree with congressman Issa that the touting of 1.6 billion returned to the Treasury is simply a “smoke and mirrors budget gimmickry that the American people have come to expect from the federal government.”

The bureau’s incompetency was saved by luck. There were no natural disasters and the recession produced a workforce that was otherwise unparalleled. About $800 million were in unspent funds set aside for hurricanes, floods and earthquakes which there were none. It is analogous to as if I lent you $10 and you returned it when it was not needed.

But the workforce productivity that beat expectations came from alleged poor management practices and labor and wage violations.
The most common complaint is the overtime it denied field, office staff and LCO managers. There were many office and field staff who worked many hours and never submitted time sheets for fear of termination in the worst employment market since the Great Depression.
The report also fails to mention that the first few operations (address canvassing, groups quarters validation) were overstaffed and thousands of employees were trained and got either no work or less than a week’s work.
The Census Bureau also entered into poor contracts such as the Harris handheld computers and PBOCS. And last but not least the supplies and paper contracts it entered into which produced enormous amounts of waste. There are entire rooms of unused office supplies (rubber bands, erasers, pencils, file folders) and preprinted manuals and administrative forms in huge quantities that are quietly being made to disappear. We’re not talking boxes, we are talking hundreds to thousands of boxes per LCO. The counter argument was any operation would of generated office waste but any census employee who works in the office who packed the shipping trucks knows exactly what I am talking about.
Robert Groves should have a press conference about what they are doing with the truckloads of unused supplies and whether they are returning those to the contractor for a refund. Perhaps the Inspector General should do an audit over the truckloads and pallets that are being quietly thrown out. In order to hide this waste some managers are threatening employees who document this with immediate termination.
I am optimistic that in the months after the census ends the truth will come out. In retrospect had the Census entered into better IT contracts, had there there not been problems with PBOCS, had they better estimated simply the amount of rubber bands every office would need they could have saved them themselves possibly at least another billion.