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 ‘Politics’ Category

WSJ: Census makes Obama’s re-election more difficult

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Here’s an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal detailing why 2010 Census results may make re-election more difficult for President Obama:

President George W. Bush would not have won the 2000 election had the 1960 map been in use. But the population movement that occurred over 40 years shifted enough electoral votes from states Democrat Al Gore won to states that Mr. Bush won to make the difference. And for that matter, President John F. Kennedy would not have won the White House had the 2000 Electoral College numbers been in place in 1960.

The best guess – and it is more than a guess since reasonably accurate population projections for the states are no secret – is that the following states are likely to gain one seat in Congress and one electoral vote: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Texas will gain at least two and probably three. One other state is likely to gain a seat, but it is not clear at this point which one it will be.

Five of those states, including Texas, went for Republican John McCain in 2008, but all except Washington backed Mr. Bush in the close 2000 and 2004 elections – an indication that if 2012 is as close as it was in those two years, this year’s census could give the GOP nine of the 10 votes.

Let the Freedom (of information) Summer begin!

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Today, Michael C. Cook of the Census Bureau’s public information office wrote the following in the comments section of this post:

The Census Bureau publicly discloses on our website a status log of all FOIA requests to assist organizations like My Two Census and individuals to track the status of formal public records inquiries. In addition we have routinely provided My Two Census with status reports on your many requests.

On February 14, 2010 you requested records on the translation services contract with Diplomatic Language Services and we provided a response in 31 days.

On February 19 and again on the 26th you submitted a modified request for correspondence with various public officials and emails which contained your itemized list of 26 profanities. We have partially complied with this request.

On February 25, 2010, you requested travel records on all Census employee hotel stays for a 14 month period. As of today, we have not received from you the legally required fee to cover the cost of this substantial request.

On April 20, 2010, you requested all records relating to technology systems at the Census Bureau covering a three and a half year period beginning in 2006. As of today, we have not received from you the legally required fee to cover the cost of this substantial request.

On April 25, 2010, you requested copies of all emails between four Census employees during a one week period in February. As of today, we have not received from you the legally required fee to cover the cost of this request.

On June 14, 2010 you requested a log of all your requests.

Last night you requested information on an employee in our Chicago Region.

What you don’t see here is the exorbitant prices — in the range of $30,000 — that the Census Bureau tries to charge me to fill these requests. However, journalism organizations, like MyTwoCensus.com, are exempt from these fees. Nonetheless, though in 2009 the Census Bureau forced me to create appeals to claim my status as a journalism organization and then waived the fees, in 2010 the Census Bureau has not recognized MyTwoCensus.com (currently getting more daily hits than ever) as a journalism organization. Here’s what I wrote back to Mr. Cook:

How in god’s name do you expect me to pay these fees? I am working for myself and this site is no longer funded. Journalism organizations are excluded from paying fees, and I only request electronic copies as I don’t believe in wasting paper. It is an insult to have to have $30,000 on hand every time I want to make a request. What do you think?

In light of this information and the Census Bureau’s continuous effort to shield itself from damaging information being released to the public through MyTwoCensus.com, I will be starting the Freedom (of Information) Summer initiative, whereby I will make FOIA requests five times per week throughout the summer. As you already read in a previous post, the Census Bureau’s FOIA staff doesn’t get all that many requests, so I’m going to make them work a bit harder to encourage more government transparency.

My voice will not be silenced, and yours shouldn’t be either. If you would like me to request information on your behalf, please be as specific as possible (dates, terms, people, etc.) and I will do my best to file FOIAs that have legitimacy for you. Here is some more info for you to check out:

http://www.census.gov/po/www/foia/foiaweb.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_Information_Act_%28United_States%29

Congressman responds to Blagojevich-linked Census Bureau official with letter to Census Bureau Director Groves

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com is appreciative that Congressman Patrick McHenry’s office has taken up this issue. Now, we hope that William Lacy Clay and the House Democrats also jump on board to make this a bi-partisan effort…

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Josh Kahn
June 17, 2010
McHenry: Why Is a Census Official Tied to the Blagojevich Scandal?

WASHINGTON, DC… Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), sent the following letter to U.S. Census Director Dr. Robert Groves questioning the Bureau about a local Census official tied to the Blagojevich trial.

Rep. McHenry is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee overseeing the Census.  The letter is below:

June 17, 2010

Robert Groves
Director
U.S. Census Bureau
4600 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746

Dear Dr. Groves:

This week the director of a Census Bureau office in Chicago, Joseph Aramanda, appeared as a witness in former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial.  Although Mr. Aramanda testified under immunity and so will not be charged himself, he was involved in some extremely questionable money transfers at the direction of Blagojevich associate Tony Rezko.

This is unacceptable.  The Census is too important to be caught up in a corruption trial.  Mr. Aramanda manages a significant number of employees and his deep involvement in the Blagojevich scandal tarnishes the reputation of the 2010 Census.

I strongly encourage you to reassess Mr. Aramanda’s employment status with the Bureau.  I would appreciate your quick response on this timely issue.

Sincerely,

Patrick T. McHenry
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Information Policy,
Census, and National Archives

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Current Census Bureau official involved in Blagojevich scandal must go…immediately!

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

MyTwoCensus is disturbed to learn that a man so deeply involved in the Blagojevich/Obama-Senate-seat-for-sale scandal is now employed in an upper level management position by the Census Bureau in Chicago. Even if the man, Joseph Aramanda, has not been convicted (yet) of  a crime, his reputation for being involved in illegal activities seriously undermines the credibility of Census Bureau operations in Chicago. In a city with corruption linked to 2010 Census advertising, the public should not have to worry that upper management positions are being filled by individuals who are directly tied to government corruption and fraud. Furthermore, Joseph Aramanda’s experiences as a pizza franchise owner (his job prior to the Census Bureau gig) don’t qualify him to be in charge of 1,000+ employees. This is particularly troubling at a time when there are  many hardworking, educated individuals with office management experience in the Chicago area who can do the job just as efficiently. MyTwoCensus.com will be pressing the Census Bureau to fire this man immediately, as his association with the Census Bureau tarnishes the reputation of the 2010 Census. That the suits in Washington could let a man so deeply embroiled in scandal run the office of one of America’s largest LCO’s is extremely troubling and indicative of larger problems.

The following coverage comes from The Chicago Tribune:

Pal says Rezko lured him into becoming a middleman in money transfers

Transfers helped obscure cash illegally destined to Blagojevich, Rezko and others, prosecutors say

June 15, 2010

These days Joseph Aramanda manages a U.S. Census Bureau Chicago-area office and its 1,000 employees. But it was in a different capacity that he showed up for the government Tuesday at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse — witness in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Aramanda took the stand to explain how he was lured by Blagojevich insider Antoin “Tony” Rezko into becoming a middleman in money transfers that prosecutors claim helped obscure cash siphoned from government-related deals and illegally destined for Blagojevich, Rezko and others.

Blagojevich wasn’t directly linked to the complicated chain of financial transactions described by Aramanda, who will return to the stand Wednesday. But prosecutors are clearly using his testimony to explain how Rezko, Blagojevich’s friend and political money man, operated to benefit himself and the ex-governor.

For the full article, click HERE.

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves says that operations are winding down; Mass #layoffs ahead at the #2010 #Census

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

We knew this day would come. Yesterday, Robert M. Groves tweeted and blogged that 2010 Census operations are winding down.

Groves wrote, “As of Sunday, we have completed and checked-in about 44 million enumerator forms for this operation of the approximately 47 million; we’re at about 93% complete in this operation. We are somewhat ahead of schedule and certainly under-budget.”

My first (snarky) comment is that its not hard to be under-budget when you are given a $15 billion blank check that is more than triple what your predecessors had to work with in 2000.

My second, realistic comment, is that there are still 3 million households that have not been counted. With the end of operations looming near, this invites fraud on many levels, as individuals will likely be pressured by their higher-ups, all the way through the chain of command back to Census Bureau Headquarters in Suitland, Maryland to get forms completed come hell or high water.

Subtly, Dr. Groves also warned of mass layoffs in the coming days. He wrote;

However, for many we will have to say our goodbyes. It is to them that this entry is dedicated –

You were among the best labor force for a decennial census in decades; you brought to the census family the strongest set of skills and intelligence, the best work experience, incredible flexibility, and a strong devotion to serving the American public by devoting your talents to the 2010 Census. On behalf of the full Census Bureau family, I thank you for your service to the country, and I wish you well in the next steps in your careers. I hope some of the experiences you had during this massive, complicated, messy effort will provide knowledge that makes you a better employee in your next endeavor. Thank you again.

Also, please say a warm and fuzzy goodbye to Obama Administration job creation statistics that were inflated by Census Bureau hires!

New #Census report from the Inspector General…

Monday, June 14th, 2010

It’ s only four pages and the last part of the report consists of recommendations based on problems highlighted earlier. Please post your comments below. Given how critical this report is, we can only imagine how scathing the next full report from the Inspector General will be.

http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/2010/OAE-19893-01.pdf

MyTwoCensus analysis:

1. Respondents are facing additional burdens because questionnaires are not being handled properly. The report doesn’t go far enough in criticizing the Census Bureau for creating a system whereby sensitive data is just laying around for long periods of time , thereby compromising the data’s confidentiality.

2. As has been discussed in recent weeks on MyTwoCensus.com, there are no guidelines that state whether enumerators can use the Internet to determine proxy information. A memo was sent out about this a couple of weeks ago, informing field workers not to use the Internet, but it is unknown whether this memo reached everyone. Either way, it was sent way too late in the operation to be effective as most enumerators are likely already set in their ways of tracking people down.

3. That 1/3 of interviews were proxy interviews is an unacceptably high figure.

4. Enumerators should never have to give out their personal phone numbers unless they are being compensated by the government or have this written into their contract as part of their job description.

Daily Sound Off: Are Census Bureau officials getting bonuses based on performance?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

This came in through our submission form:

I would sure like to see a story on who in the census office are getting bonuses and for what.

Out of the Matteson Office 2526 we have been given deadline dates by the LCOM John Mathis such as one a week ago, then one today, etc.  In a meeting with the LCOM, someone from the RCC Chicago office, brought up these dates John seemed to change his mind on the dates.  Someone else then asked if anyone is getting bonuses for completing early.  The RCC guy said “Who said we are getting bonuses?”

I think any bonuses if they exist for finishing early are only going to cause more bad census data as we are rushed to meet dates that are falsely imposed.  The website says this part of the operation should end in early July.

So can you find out what bonuses are offered to census management and for what?  Then we can start writing our congress people to abolish them.  The only bonus I think should be for getting a complete and accurate count of all people and where they lived on April 1st.

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Is Florida already gearing up for a challenge to its 2010 Census figures?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

First, here’s some background: States and municipalities have the power to challenge census results. For instance, just this year the Census Bureau admitted that its numbers were faulty for a number of locales around the country and eventually adjusted the totals, immediately effecting how federal funds were/are distributed. A few days ago, Microsoft released a press release stating that it is now operating a software system for the state of Florida that will help the state identify areas where the Census Bureau may have screwed up and failed to count people.

(Check out the site here at myfloridacensus.com)

site note: maybe I should sue Microsoft/the state of Florida for infringing on the mytwocensus name with myfloridacensus? any lawyers out there want to advise me on this one?

The press release states the following:

“The Florida House of Representatives is making one final push over the next month for its state residents to be counted in the 2010 Census, through its MyFloridaCensus (http://www.myfloridacensus.gov) website and Web-based application. MyFloridaCensus is an innovative component in Florida’s overall effort to ensure a complete count of residents during the ongoing 2010 Census, supplementing door-to-door canvassing, which ends nationwide July 10.”

Ostensibly, if Florida doesn’t like its total population count as identified by the Census Bureau, it will happily use data collected through myfloridacensus.com to fight the Census Bureau in its challenge. Does this mean that the stage is already being set for yet another bloody recount in Florida, this one to take place in 2011, ten years after the last one rocked the nation and changed the course of history?

Key White House staffer admits Harris Corp. failed the American people

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Peter Orszag is the White House’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Below are excerpts of a June 8 speech delivered to the Center for American Progress, courtesy of the Federal Times.

(Please have a look through the MyTwoCensus.com archives to learn more about the Harris Corp. handheld-computer debacle that cost US taxpayers $800 million, not the $600 million that Orszag states below, because an additional $200 million was awarded to the contractors after their initial failure to create a usable product.)

Here’s what he said:

For example, the Census Bureau awarded in 2006 a $595 million contract to develop a hand-held computer for census workers to use this year. Two years and $600 million later, the project was canceled with nothing to show for it.

And census workers out there today still use pen and paper.

Clearly, we have massive room for improvement. Pursuing that improvement and closing the IT gap will help us create a government that is more efficient and less wasteful, and that is … more responsive to the American people.

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves lies (again)

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

UPDATE: For those people who are arguing in the comments section, Groves, in his prepared remarks, which can be found at the following link on page 1, stated that the ad campaign has been completed:

http://www.mytwocensus.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/GrovesRemarksJune2010.pdf

At his most recent press conference (on June 2nd), Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves stated that the Census Bureau had completed its 2010 Census advertising campaign. Yet, yesterday, it was reported that the advertising campaign is ongoing in Mississippi:

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – The U.S. Census Bureau will increase its advertising efforts in the poverty-stricken Mississippi Delta to encourage people to respond.

Census Bureau director Robert M. Groves said Tuesday the agency is committed to a complete and accurate count of area’s population.

The Census is conducted once every 10 years and helps determine how millions of federal dollars are spent. Officials use the updated population figures to reconfigure lines for districts in the U.S. House, the state House and Senate and for local offices such as county supervisors.

Graves met in Jackson last week with several groups concerned about an accurate count in the Delta, including Southern Echo and the Sunflower County Parents and Students Organization.

To Census Bureau officials reading this: Is the advertising campaign really complete?

With latest jobs report, the Census Bureau’s failures to report training hours and part-time jobs come to light

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

For most of you, this is old news by now, but I hesitated to report it because it would probably just make you more angry. It recently came out that most of America’s new jobs are temporary Census Bureau positions that will soon end, which is dismal news for the economy. As MyTwoCensus.com observed, some people on the right are outraged by what they report as false job statistics since Census Bureau employees have been hired and let go (for various reasons) and then re-hired to work for other 2010 Census operations down the road.

FoxNews published reports from Commerce Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics spokespersons:

Commerce Department spokesman Nick Kimball:

“The Census Bureau — like all other employers — reports the number of individuals on its payroll for the specific week the Labor Department uses as a point of reference for measuring the nation’s level of This is not a tally of positions filled during the past month — instead, it is the number of actual individual human beings who received paychecks that week. That number can then be compared to the reports from previous months to understand the changing jobs environment over time.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics spokeswoman Stacey Standish:

“Each month the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Current Employment Statistics (CES) program publishes the employment levels for total nonfarm and component industries. Establishments, including the Census Bureau, are asked to report the total number of workers on their payroll. That is, the establishment is asked to report the total number of employees who worked or received pay for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. The CES program does not ask establishments to report the number of new hires or created, or the number of persons who were laid off.”

Shelly Lowe of the Census Bureau’s public information office commented on a MyTwoCensus post:

First, the Census Bureau does not hire, then fire, and then rehire anyone. Any employee who is fired is fired for cause. We train and hire temporary workers for various operations, most significantly Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) to complete work assignments. When the work is complete, the temporary worker goes into an inactive status. They may be re-activated if there is more work to do, or for another subsequent operation. At no time do we count a re-activation from non-working status as a ?rehire.?

The article goes on to state: “Labor doesn’t check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

This is simply inaccurate. The Census Bureau reports to the Department of Labor and on our public website the number of people paid for work during a given week. We do not report the number of jobs. The Census Bureau reports the total number of unduplicated temporary 2010 workers that earned any pay during a specific weekly pay period. Temporary workers earning any pay during the week are counted only once. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measures changes in employment levels — not the actual level itself — and looks only at the week which includes the 12th day of the month. It is simply not possible for Census to engage in the manipulation of data to artificially inflate the employment report of the BLS in the manner alleged by this news column.

So now we see that the number of people on the payroll each week is the number of people who are reported to the government. However, as we know from previous posts and reports by the Commerce Department Inspector General and Government Accountability Office, there are tons and tons of Census Bureau employees who are “trained” each week but never actually work. Furthermore, there are thousands of Census Bureau employees who are only working part-time. Many workers have twenty hours to work per week, tops. These  figures are not accounted for in the Census Bureau’s tally, which are further compounded by the Census Bureau’s frequent IT malfunctions making it such that Census Bureau employees who are on the clock are merely sitting around and waiting for assignments to come through.

Must-Read: New York’s 2010 Census nightmare

Monday, June 7th, 2010

The following report comes from a Census Bureau official whose identity has been confirmed but will remain anonymous as she is a current Census Bureau employee:

The five boroughs of New York City and its diversified population of eight million have long eluded demographers and census employees in producing an accurate count. Having worked in three censuses now and living in New York for almost my entire adult life I notice that the socioeconomic spectrum of New Yorkers has widened, making the poor poorer and the rich richer. In the last ten years there is an influx of immigrants; some legal some illegal. It makes what was once a one family home in Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx a two or even three family home. These people are living in converted basements or the second story of the houses some legal some illegal. On the other end of the spectrum, luxury rentals and condominiums have become even more exclusive with price tags in the millions of dollars. In both cases the immigrants and residents of these upscale housing units and their exclusive real estate management companies have ignored repeated attempts by phone or mail to allow enumeration.  Even in the face of a fine, the management companies are adamant about their policy and would willingly pay the fine rather than to allow enumerators to count their residents. The problem is the Census’ Bureau’s threat of a fine is merely used as a scare tactic. When a real estate mogul calls their bluff the actual fine like many other Census Bureau promises is empty.

As native New Yorkers we anticipated these problems. And sitting through four days of verbatim training where someone read through a book, we knew that it wasn’t as simple as the script made it to be to persuade these respondents about the importance of the census and their participation. As a group we brainstormed and created techniques through trial and error to get those who were non-responsive to fill out our questionnaires. Some of these tactics included: sending another enumerator of a different race or creed after several visits with no contact; leaving blank enumerator questionnaires under their door allowing them the privacy of completing it in their own home. One of us even went as far as sending well dressed suits or female fashion models to coerce participation. But all this takes time and money. All of which with 15 billion price tag the Census Bureau doesn’t have.

With inaccurate workload estimation models and front loading the Census Bureau overrecruited, overhired on many operations in preparation for the final major operation: non-response followup. One of the major costs was the paper based operational control system PBOCS which has been the subject of intense scrutiny by media, Congress and employees because of its inability to check out, check out and ship questionnaires and generate management reports. The managers who are monitoring productivity and costs are trained to believe if the reports don’t show it’s done then it isn’t done. With only erroneous reports to rely on, headquarters and regional offices are using a take no prisoners do whatever it takes attitude to pressure temporary employees to complete the task. PBOCS also moves assignment areas fooling LCO managers and field staff into thinking they have more or less work than they have. And ultimately this may have long term geography problems when the Census is completed and used for congressional redistricting.

Since PBOCS doesn’t work correctly and fails to handle the workload, The Census Bureau runs on a more is better attitude. The solution is hire more employees for manually counting and reviewing enumerator questionnaires when they should have slowed enumerator production. Local Census offices have gone from a simple 9am-5:30pm operation to running three shifts 24 hours a day seven days a week with triple to quadruple what their staffing authorizations originally allowed. This compounded the bottleneck, increased the backlog of questionnaires waiting to be checked in and slowed the re -interview and quality assurance phase. There is overwhelming suspicion of data falsification and false proxies but by the time this is figured out the operation will end and the enumerators already released for lack of work.

Now what was originally touted as the most accurate decennial count ever has quickly turned into a race to meet production goals and wrap up the operation as quickly as possible with procedural changes.  We have enumerators, telephone clerks in the LCO, and enumerators from other LCOs taking interviews ignoring the fact that PBOCS will only let you check it in under an enumerator and that if data falsification is happening it will be difficult to find the culprit. What were originally any six personal and telephone visits is now three visits go to a proxy. What used to be try to get the household member because he knows his own name, sex, age, DOB, Hispanic origin and race and whether he rents or owns has become going to a proxy on a first visit and sometimes writing don’t know on most if not all of those questions. Sadly this actually passes the office review portion and nothing in the enumerator procedures disallows that. If a respondent refuses and a proxy is able to give any of the information no matter how knowledgeable he/she is that doesn’t constitute marking it as a refusal, skewing the accuracy of the data.

The incentives of career census employees at RCC and headquarters are in contradiction with each enumerator who wants our city to be accurately counted. The career census employees’ evaluation of performance is purely based on numbers how many cases are completed with little regard to the demography or difficulty of enumerating the population. Their expectation is that the enumeration of traditionally undercounted minorities of Bedford Stuyvesant be just as quick as the white, upper middle class of Upper West Side of Manhattan. The very same agency whose motto has always been the leading source of data about the nation’s people and economy has become a competition between area managers and local census offices.

The leadership in the local census offices isn’t the strongest either. Those who made hiring decisions in New York RCC had every chance to hire the best managers but instead resorted to nepotism to make decisions. When it was clear these decisions were poor the career census employees terminated LCO managers’ employment to cover it up. But then found another disappointing replacement. In an attempt to bring operations up to speed the Census Bureau flew in managers from Denver into Manhattan and headquarters to Staten Island.

The goal is for enumerators to get as many cases in and clerks process work as quickly as possible doing whatever it takes to get the job done, otherwise there will be a formal written reprimand and termination of their employment. It is the chest beating, gorilla apelike attitude of the managers that will ultimately be the demise of New York City.

Lester Farthing, the Regional Director and his managers of the New York Regional Census Center have no intention of an accurate count in the five boroughs. Instead their goal is to appease headquarters, finish as quickly as possible so that the career census employees will be viewed as productive team players who are not questioning the possible inaccuracy of this count. As one of our area managers will say “it’s a hot mess.” I only hope the mayor of our great city Michael Bloomberg, city census coordinator Stacey Cumberbatch, politicians and congressmen are reading this letter and will intervene because ultimately it is the city that will suffer for the next ten years. They were quick to make public announcements touting the importance of participating in the census by returning the forms. But have yet to do anything to persuade non cooperative households and real estate management companies to allow enumerators in to complete their job. The sad reality is that it may be too little too late.

With the way the census works can any of us ever trust census data again?

CNSNews.com Inspector General’s Memo: Census Says It Hired More Workers Than It Needed As a ‘Cost-Saving Measure’

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Interesting article from CNS News (click HERE for full article):

The U.S. Census purposefully hired more workers than it needed, telling the Office of the Inspector General of the Commerce Department that it did so as a “cost-saving measure,” according to a memorandum that Todd J. Zinser of the inspector general’s office sent to Census Bureau Director Robert Groves last week.

“According to Census,” said Zinser’s May 26 memo to Groves, “‘frontloading’ its workforce (i.e. hiring and training more enumerators than necessary to offset turnover) is a cost-saving measure.” The inspector general’s memo, however, suggested that in at least one Census Bureau operation excessive staff had increased the “cost of operations” and that in another operation deployment of an unnecessarily large number of workers ”increased the operation’s direct labor and travel costs.”

In the first quarter of this year (January-March), personnel from the inspector general’s office observed Census Bureau operations in four programs. These included “update/leave” (U/L), in which Census workers deliver questionnaires to homes that would not be reached by ordinary mail service; “update/enumerate” (U/E), which counts people in communities where the homes lack ordinary mailing addresses or street names; “enumeration at transitory locations” (ETL), which counts people at places where their residences are potentially mobile, such as recreational vehicle parks, campgrounds, marinas and carnivals; and “service-based enumeration” (SBE), which counts homeless people at places such as homeless shelters, mobile food vans and so-called “targeted non-sheltered outdoor locations” (TNSOL).

The inspector general’s memo said that the Census Bureau had “overestimated” the staff needed for the program to enumerate people at transitory locations. “During the ETL operation,” said the memo, “crew leaders overestimated the number of Census staff needed to enumerate transitory locations, thus increasing the cost of operations.”

The memo also said that there were so many people hired for the “service-based enumeration” that there turned out to be one Census enumerator for every seven homeless people counted, and that the inspector general’s office “observed significant periods of enumerator inactivity at certain locations.”

“In another operation [which the inspector general’s office confirmed to CNSNews.com was the SBE program],” said the memo, “we found many enumerator teams to be unnecessarily large—an average ratio of one enumerator for just seven homeless respondents. We observed significant periods of enumerator inactivity at certain locations, which increased the operation’s direct labor and travel costs.”

As a result of these problems, the inspector general suggested that the Census bureau should “reevaluate” frontloading—that is, the practice of hiring more enumerators than necessary to cover anticipated turnover. “Census should reevaluate its practice of frontloading and develop a better process to estimate workload and cost assumptions,” said the memo. “A more streamlined enumeration process could reduce training and travel costs and be more responsive to changing economic conditions.”

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Tell us why Dean was arrested and don’t keep him on the Census Bureau’s payroll

Friday, June 4th, 2010

After more than 22 years as the head of the Census Bureau’s Detroit Regional office, Dwight Dean was mysteriously and suddenly removed from his post earlier this week. Letters to MyTwoCensus.com have cited cronyism, bribery, corruption, inefficiency, and a failure to get the job done as reasons for Mr. Dean’s recent departure.

However, the Census Bureau has been completely mum on the subject and Mr. Dean has not answered or returned calls from reporters seeking clarification about what has happened. The Census Bureau maintains that Mr. Dean remains on the Census Bureau payroll and has not been fired. This makes us wonder: In what capacity is this senior administrator currently serving? Is he on paid leave? Is the Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office or the FBI investigating his actions? The Census Bureau won’t even admit that the man was arrested, as some MyTwoCensus.com sources have alleged.

It would surely be a PR disaster for the Census Bureau to admit that its data from the Detroit region (which includes all of Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia) has been corrupted in some way for the 2010 Census — let alone during the past 22 years of Mr. Dean’s tenure.

Perhaps the comments section of MyTwoCensus.com provide us with the best insight:

He was the KING OF OVERTIME . Lets not find out why things work or do not work , just give blanket overtime. This guy pissed away a lot of overtime money to be number 1 or a close number 2. I also have heard stories about his cruelty to Area Managers . His cruel leadership style affected a lot of his RTs . Dean’s RTs had more power then his AMs , because some RTs were his pals and reported dirctly to him and it caused an uneasiness in the district. Those RTs that Dean brought back over and over again need to be looked at more closely. If nothing else I hope the RT leadership of intimidation comes to an end. You could always tell who was a friend of Dean’s in the RT world.

Another reader wrote:

“It’s a fact not a rumor. Dwight Dean, Regional Director, and all around God was arrested last week for misappropriation of funds. Basically he gave a government contract to a friend of his who owns a warehouse. (A big no no)

Dean did it on the sly by using his government-issued credit cards. He had other (higher ups) who worked for him use their government issued credit cards too.

Last week, US Marshals arrested him at work, escorted him out, the locks were changed, and there were dozens of witnesses. I worked two decennials for “Mr. Dean.”

He was a tyrant and an idiot. The corruption I saw. The waste of taxpayer money.

I’ve been looking over the press releases issued by, of course, the government. What a bunch of b.s… A cover up already. “They” are saying he left for “personnel reasons.” It’s disgusting.
Dean is being paid while on leave and no one will ever know the truth. I used to work in the Detroit Regional Office, Grade 12, – I know what I’m talking about.”

MyTwoCensus.com is currently investigating the information listed above and we hope to have some facts

The Census Bureau wastes your tax dollars by shifting workers around the country…

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Yesterday, MyTwoCensus.com reported that 2010 Census workers from Colorado have arrived in New York to assist with operations. Each of these employees is put up at a hotel and paid a per diem rate. (I’ve heard that Hilton Hotels are being used for this purpose — which isn’t surprising since Census Bureau officials are known to stay at Ritz Carleton Hotels while on government business).

Michael C. Cook of the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office wrote to me yesterday, “When we assess that a particular office is either not following procedures or has weak management we often make staffing changes, or even send in experienced managers to help improve operations and re-train the temporary staff.” So the Census Bureau is saying that nobody in New York, a city of 8 million people,  is capable of handling these procedures? (Two sources have confirmed to me that one manager clerk from Washington DC is even being put up in New York’s Battery Park in a $4,500 per month apartment on your dime.)

The federal government outlines hotel and per diem rates for New York quite clearly. This means that in addition to their salaries as Census Bureau employees, each individual is spending up to $411 per day, not including flights or other expenditures, merely to eat and sleep in New York. This isn’t the first time this has occurred. During the address canvassing stage of 2010 Census operations, the Census Bureau sent in workers from North Carolina to assist with efforts in New York. Such wasteful incidents have also occurred with workers from Georgia being sent to Florida and workers from Texas being sent to Louisiana. With unemployment hovering around 10% and the Census Bureau’s admission that it had four times as many applicants as it did positions open, can this type of spending on transportation, hotels, and per diems be justified? Absolutely not.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Fingerprinting changes are long overdue because the media failed to report on the potential problems

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

For nearly a year, MyTwoCensus.com was the only media outlet reporting about the problems that the Census Bureau faced in terms of fingerprinting the 1.4 million people who were set to work for the 2010 Census. And we continue that fight today.

In December 2009, I reported that a convicted felon in Alaska was working in a supervisory position for the Census Bureau. This was discovered only after the man killed his mother and then himself. Clearly, this incident should have made calls for improved fingerprinting procedures at the Census Bureau obvious. However, the Census Bureau maintained the status quo and did nothing — fending off my questions and ignoring my concerns.

This incident occurred two months AFTER I originally posted the flaws of the 2010 Census fingerprinting process that were written by child advocate and fingerprinting expert David Allburn, who offered solutions to the Census Bureau that were ultimately refused. Allburn wrote:

(1) The Bureau should announce that trainees are responsible for the “readability” of their own fingerprints, and that fingerprint “failure” due to un-readability (or to discovery of disqualifying criminal history), terminates the canvasser’s employment. This stops attracting ex-felons who would intentionally blur their prints, but it is manifestly unfair to honest workers whose fingerprints are blurred by the inexperienced print-takers. This is fixed by step two.

(2) The Bureau should augment its fingerprint capture by adopting part of our patented “self-capture” technique. Invented by a war veteran, the method has applicants use an extra minute or two to make their own set of “backup prints”, observed and authenticated by the print-taker. Barcoded and enclosed with the cards forwarded to the scanning center, those self-captured prints are readily available for fixing any individual print impressions found “bad.” Well tested, this gets the cards through the FBI with the same dependability as live-scanning offers, typically twenty times better than the old rubber-stamp method now in use.

Only after a handicapped woman was raped by a 2010 Census employee and a sex offender was caught going door-to-door did the Census Bureau decide to change their policies. Is that what it takes to create “change” in America?

Census Bureau Director’s remarks from today’s press conference show significant operational problems/MyTwoCensus commentary/scathing criticism

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

The Census Bureau posted the remarks that Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert M. Groves made today online before they were actually said in public, so there wasn’t much of a need to live-blog the event. Please find the speech from Dr. Groves HERE, but I will also provide you with commentary and highlights below…

Here are the highlights from Dr. Groves’ speech and MyTwoCensus commentary (being updated as it is typed):

Dr. Groves says: “As I reported in our last briefing, one area of concern was our paper-based operational control system (PBOCS). Despite major problems at the onset, the system is starting to stabilize, and we are cautiously optimistic that we may be catching up on the check-in process.”

MyTwoCensus Commentary: Are you kidding me? Starting to stabilize? This system was developed two years ago and this operation is already more than halfway through its allotted time period. How can you spin this “cautious optimism” as a solution to a $3 billion operation?

Dr. Groves says, “The problems with this system seriously slowed the check-in of group quarters and enumerator forms in the field. Several field operations were affected. And we have had to implement separate alternative methods to handle the check-out and shipping of forms to the data capture
centers.”

MyTwoCensus Commentary: What are these “separate alternative methods?” Is the data safe using alternative methods? What are the costs of designing, implementing, and activating these new systems?

Dr. Groves says, “In the first week of the door-to-door (non-response follow-up) operation, the system was not reliable; work was assigned to enumerators through a manual backup to make sure that the no harm was done to completing the field work. ”

MyTwoCensus Commentary: What about the millions of taxpayer dollars that were wasted as workers just sat around doing nothing while they waited for assignments? Isn’t “harm” being done because the operation has a limited budget and wasted time means that the real work won’t be able to get done later on?

Dr. Groves says: “Right now the system is letting us check in about two million forms a day and if this pace continues we should be able to catch up.”

MyTwoCensus Commentary: And what if this pace doesn’t continue because the system continues to crash and operate without stability as it has all along? There have been a multitude of reports to MyTwoCensus that completed questionnaires are literally piling up by the thousands at local census offices because the “system” is unable to process them in a timely fashion. This results in the appearance that residences were not visited, and then enumerators get sent BACK into the field to re-enumerate the same individuals whose completed questionnaires are laying around collecting dust at an office until they are put into the system.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when I will rail and rail and rail against the Census Bureau for their lax fingerprinting procedures. (This is something that I have been writing about for OVER A YEAR NOW, and the Census Bureau only changed their policies once a sex offender was hired and a handicapped woman was raped. Both of these incidents would have been unnecessary had the Census Bureau listened to the advice I and others posted on MyTwoCensus.com…)

Breaking News: Firing people from New York and hiring people from Denver, Colorado to replace them…

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

In the past week, many New York City Census Bureau employees have been terminated. MyTwoCensus.com has received substantial evidence from two individuals who have alerted us that since the Denver, Colorado region was ahead of schedule, they have since flown workers to New York, put them at hotels, paid them per diems, and provided meals for them. Yes, you are reading this correctly. A city of 8 million people does not have enough competence to complete a task, so the Census Bureau has recruited folks from Denver to help them get the job done. If this isn’t inefficiency, what is? More details coming ASAP.

Note: If you know more about this, please get in touch with me or leave a note in the comments section with details. Thanks!

Associated Press: Detained immigrants may help bring in census money

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

This news got drowned out yesterday but it’s prety important and interesting:

TACOMA, Wash. – Paulo Sergio Alfaro-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant being held at a detention center in Washington state, had no idea that the federal government would count him in the census.

No one gave him a census form. No one told him his information would be culled from the center’s records.

But counted he was, along with other illegal immigrants facing deportation in detention centers across the country — about 30,000 people on any given day, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement.

By the time the census delivers the total tallies to the state and federal government, most of the immigrants will be long gone. But because the population snapshot determines the allocation of federal dollars, those in custody could help bring money to the towns, cities and counties in Texas, Arizona, Washington and Georgia where the country’s biggest and newest facilities are located.

“I think the irony, if there’s any irony, is that the locality is what’s going to benefit, because you have a detention center in a particular city where people have been brought from different parts of the region, and that community will benefit,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, an organization that has pushed Latinos to participate in the census.

This census brings a twist, though. For the first time, states have the option of counting people in detention centers and prisons as residents of their last address before they’re detained, worrying some local lawmakers who say cities and counties that host detention centers could lose money.

“Detention centers and prisons should probably count where they are located, that’s where resources would be required,” Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-Georgia wrote in a May letter to the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the census. Bishop represents Stewart County, Georgia, population 4,600, where the nation’s largest detention center housed a total of 14,000 people between April 2007 and March 2008. (more…)

Another look at James O’Keefe

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Yesterday I was accused of a Conservative bias simply for publishing the James O’Keefe video. Well, here’s the response from Media Matters for a left-wing perspective on the issue:

Surprise! O’Keefe edits out inconvenient footage from new BigGovernment video

June 01, 2010 12:02 pm ET — 59 Comments

In a video posted on BigGovernment.com, conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe claims that he has uncovered census supervisors in a New Jersey office “systematically encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets.” Following his pattern of selectively editing videos, O’Keefe excluded a clip — which was subsequently aired by ABC — of a census leader telling workers that they must carefully and accurately report on their time sheets the number of miles they drive when they are doing their enumeration work.

O’Keefe removes relevant information from video posted on BigGovernment.com

ABC airs additional clip showing census crew leader stressing need for accuracy in time sheet reporting. On June 1, ABC’s Good Morning America interviewed O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart. From the June 1 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (host): But this was the training program. And you concede that in the actual Census program, they were holding workers to much stricter standards. We have some video tape of that as well.

CREW LEADER (video clip): This is not a big issue here, but when you start doing this enumeration thing, you want to make sure you are watching your miles, OK? Set the odometer and every day record it. Don’t estimate it, don’t guess it. That’s part of their ability to audit you, would be to look at your miles, take a look at the places you went to, if it didn’t add up, you know, they’ll go crazy.

BigGovernment video omits this relevant clip in claiming that “Census supervisors” were “systemically encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets.” In the ten-minute video posted on Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, O’Keefe stated that he had been hired as a Census worker and attended two days of training. He said, “What I found were Census supervisors systematically encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets.” The video includes clips of census leaders, who according to O’Keefe, “didn’t seem to have a problem with the discrepancy” of the hours recorded on his time sheet versus the hours he claimed to have worked. O’Keefe omitted the clip aired by ABC, which shows a census leader emphasizing the importance of accurately reporting on miles driven by census enumerators.