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 ‘Press Releases’ Category

New York Times Editorial Criticizes Census Bureau Hiring

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The following New York Times editorial concerns the class action lawsuit that we reported on last week. For many months now, MyTwoCensus.com has criticized 2010 Census hiring practices. Here’s the editorial:

The Census Bureau is hiring a million or more people to assist with the 2010 count. It is temporary work, but it pays well. With national unemployment at nearly 10 percent, it looks like an excellent opportunity. That is unless you are one of the nearly 50 million Americans with any arrest or conviction on record.

A new class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of applicants who say they were unfairly turned down for census jobs based on an opaque screening policy that relies on F.B.I. checks for any criminal histories. Those checks are notoriously unreliable. A 2006 federal report found that half of them were inaccurate or out of date.

The Census Bureau is vague about what makes someone ineligible. In Congressional testimony, it suggested that it is excluding people who have been convicted of crimes involving violence and dishonesty. The bureau’s Web site seems to say that applicants whose background checks turn up any arrest — no matter how trivial, distant in time, irrelevant to the job — receive a letter advising them that they can remain eligible only if they produce “official court documentation” bearing on the case within 30 days. Incredibly, the letter does not identify the alleged criminal activity. Applicants must prove eligibility, even if they don’t know why they were flagged.

Official court records are often unobtainable for the millions of people whose convictions have been sealed or expunged or for people who have been arrested and released because of lack of evidence or mistaken arrest. This problem falls heaviest on black and Hispanic communities where stop-and-frisk policies and indiscriminate arrests are common.

The hiring problem is not limited to the Census Bureau. After 9/11, Congress required port workers to undergo F.B.I. background checks to keep their jobs. Last year, a study by the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for workers, found that the government had mistakenly denied credentials to tens of thousands of those workers.

States and cities are wisely revising employment policies. The federal government needs to develop a fair and transparent screening system for job applicants and a more effective appeals process. Congress must also require the F.B.I. to verify the criminal records — and find missing data before issuing background checks.

In Focus: How your $timulus package money is being $pent by the Cen$u$ Bureau

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

H/t to Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporting outlet Pro Publica for sharing the following data with us. Here are some screen captures that depict how your taxpayer dollars are being spent (…interestingly, Census Bureau Communications Director Steve Jost’s former boss Carolyn Maloney represents New York City and the areas where $125,000,000 in stimulus money is headed in communications contracts!). The amount of money being spent on partnership support is particularly disturbing as I have received multiple reports of partnership materials being DISCARDED by the palette!

Fact-Checking Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves: Are assisted living facilities group quarters?

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Yesterday, a reader pointed out to me an inconsistency from the transcript of Dr. Robert M. Groves’ most recent press conference. Dr. Groves said, “And then finally group quarters, another category of folks who don’t receive forms in the mail. These are areas that are like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, prisons, dormitories, barracks, and so on.” The reader suggested that assisted living facilities are not considered group quarters, and each resident receives and completes his/her own census forms.

This is actually a complex issue that is not black and white. A Census Bureau official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “If a nursing home has independent or assisted living units then those are considered housing units and they will receive a census form in the mail. The units associated with the skilled nursing unit or nursing unit are group quarters and will be enumerated during the operation Groves speaks about.” So, in short, those people in independent housing units will receive their own forms, and thus, Groves inaccurately characterized the status of assisted living facilities at his press conference.

Maryland enacts law to count incarcerated people at their home addresses

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The following comes from PrisonersOfTheCensus.org:

April 13, 2010 – Today, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill ensuring that incarcerated persons will be counted as residents of their home addresses when new state and local legislative districts are drawn in Maryland.

The U.S. Census counts incarcerated people as residents of the prison location. When state and local government bodies use Census counts to draw legislative districts, they unintentionally enhance the weight of a vote cast in districts that contain prisons at the expense of all other districts in the state. Maryland is the first state to pledge to collect the home addresses of incarcerated people and correct the data state-wide.

The new law will help Maryland correct past distortions in representation caused by counting incarcerated persons as residents of prisons, such as the following:

  • 18% of the population currently credited to House of Delegates District 2B (near Hagerstown) is actually incarcerated people from other parts of the state. In effect, by using uncorrected Census data to draw legislative districts, the legislature granted every group of 82 residents in this districts as much political influence as 100 residents of every other district.
  • In Somerset County, a large prison is 64% of the 1st County Commission District, giving each resident in that district 2.7 times as much influence as residents in other districts. Even more troubling is that by including the prison population as “residents” in county districts, the county has been unable to draw an effective majority-African American district and has had no African-American elected to county government, despite settlement of a vote dilution lawsuit in the 1980s.

The problem is national as well. One legislative district in New York includes 7% prisoners; a legislative district in Texas includes 12% prisoners; and 15% of one Montana district are prisoners imported from other parts of the state. Indeed, the 2010 Census will find five times as many people in prison as it did just three decades ago. To address this problem, eight other states have similar bills pending in the current session or being prepared for reintroduction in the next legislative session: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

“The Maryland legislature has taken a much-needed step to ensure fairness in redistricting and reflect incarcerated populations in a more accurate way. Maryland’s action should pave the way for other states to end the distortions caused by counting incarcerated persons in the wrong place,” said Peter Wagner, Executive Director of the Prison Policy Initiative.

“Maryland’s ‘No Representation without Population’ Act will bring the state’s redistricting practices in line with the rules Maryland uses for determining legal residence of incarcerated persons for other purposes. We applaud this common-sense solution to a growing problem of fairness in representation,” said Brenda Wright, Director of the Democracy Program at Demos.

The legislation, passed as H.B. 496 and S.B.400, applies only to redistricting and would not affect federal funding distributions.

The Prison Policy Initiative and Demos have a national project to end prison-based gerrymandering, seeking to change how the U.S. Census counts incarcerated people and how states and local governments use prison counts when drawing districts. The two groups provided technical assistance to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland and the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland who led this effort.

In addition, Mr. Wagner and Ms. Wright both testified in support of Maryland’s new law at legislative hearings this spring. Their testimony pointed out that HB496/SB400 has precedent in the practice of more than 100 rural counties around the country that currently revise the Census Bureau’s prison counts for internal districting purposes, and in the laws of states such as Kansas that adjust the Census for other purposes.

PPI and Demos long have advocated for the Census Bureau to change its practices so that incarcerated persons would be counted at their home residences on a nationwide basis. While it is too late for that change to be made for the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau’s recent decision to accelerate the release of its prison count data so that states can more readily identify prison populations in the Census will be helpful to states such as Maryland that wish to make their own adjustments.

PPI and Demos applaud the lead sponsors of the legislation, Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk and Senator Catherine Pugh, who deserve special credit for their leadership on this issue. Although both represent legislative districts that contain large prison populations currently counted as part of their districts, both recognized that the issue of fairness and accuracy in statewide redistricting should take precedence over individual concerns. PPI and Demos are also encouraged by the bi-partisan support for the bill including that of Republican Senators J. Lowell Stoltzfus and Donald F. Munson.

Rep. McHenry promotes 2010 Census for the GOP

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Ranking Republican on the House of Reps. Committee for the 2010 Census Patrick McHenry has rightfully been criticizing members of his own party in recent weeks for their attempts to thwart progress on the decennial headcount. The St. Petersburg Times’ PoliFact blog has looked into McHenry’s claims and fact-checked them:

By Robert Farley

By now, most people have gotten the 2010 census in the mail. And for the first time, the U.S. Census has provided a way for the public to keep track of return rates — by state, city and zip codes.

With billions of federal dollars and political leverage at stake, most politicians are urging all residents to participate and be counted.

This year, however, some Republican leaders have raised questions about whether the census’s questions expand too far beyond the intent of the Constitution, and whether the government can be trusted to keep personal information private.

That has Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-NC., worried. As the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that oversees the census, he’s concerned that skepticism about the census being fanned by “blatant misinformation” coming from “otherwise well-meaning conservatives” within his own party (Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, have been the most vocal census critics) will discourage Republicans from fully filling out their forms. And that’s bad for Republicans, McHenry said.

“Few things will make Nancy Pelosi happier than large numbers of conservatives failing to respond to the census,” McHenry wrote in an op-ed for the conservative Red State. “If we do not respond, we will not be counted, and if we are not counted, then we effectively will not exist. That would reduce conservatives’ power in elections, allow Democrats to draw more favorable congressional boundaries and help put more tax-hiking politicians in office.”

We took a look at several of McHenry’s claims about the census in the Red State article, as well as in a press release he issued.

The first relates to the very premise guiding McHenry’s concerns, that “Early census returns are showing that conservatives have been measurably less likely than liberals to return their census forms.” We found that claim was based on the thinnest of underpinnings, and is largely unsupported. It earned a False rating.

Next, we looked at two claims that seek to allay Republican fears that the census is too prying and cumbersome.

The first is that “the most private question on this year’s form asks for an individual’s race and that question has been asked by every census since the 1790 census conducted under then-President George Washington.” We examined the census questionnaires all the way back to 1790, and found that they provide interesting insight into changing attitudes about race over the course of U.S. history. While every census dealt with race issues, it hasn’t always been a matter of “check your race here.” In the first census in 1790, for example, the census asked about the number of free white males and females; the number of “other free persons” and the number of slaves. We rated this one Mostly True.

We also looked at McHenry’s claim that, “This census is also the shortest and least intrusive count in modern history.” The 2010 census has just 10 questions. That’s two more than the short form in 2000, but in 2000, one out of six households would get a long form, which had 53 questions. There is no short form this year — everyone gets the 10-question version. So it’s arguable which of those is shorter. No other census in modern history comes close to being as short as 10 questions. And so we rated this one Mostly True.

As a bonus, we draw your attention to one more census claim, courtesy of our friends at PolitiFact Texas. It’s a claim from U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, that a census audit found more than 370,000 Texans were missed by the 2000 census, costing $1 billion in federal aid. They found that Reyes’ claim relies on an outdated report based on numbers the Census Bureau has said were flawed. It earned our worst rating, Pants on Fire!

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Why is the Census Bureau pointing at some cities to improve while others are left lagging behind in silence?

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Imagine you’re in first grade and you’re playing soccer for a team. Imagine if you’re one of a handful of kids who isn’t playing as well as the others. Now, imagine that the coach tells a few kids who are playing poorly what they’re doing wrong, but he doesn’t tell you anything. So what do you do? You keep doing what you’re doing, which is lousy. It’s lousy because you will never get better. Well, this is what the Census Bureau has done in recent days by pointing out that some states, cities and towns have poor “participation rates” while letting others linger in the darkness.

Just yesterday, I worried that Connecticut didn’t have enough resources for its Questionnaire Assistance Centers. Today, my fears were confirmed when the Census Bureau called out Connecticut on its low response rates. The Census Bureau sent out a press release with the following:

2010 Census Mail Participation Rates in Parts of Connecticut
Behind Rest of the Nation

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves noted today that some areas are
lagging behind the rest of the country in mailing back their 2010 Census
forms. With Census Day on April 1, parts of Connecticut still have some of
the lowest rates of mail participation. Nationally, 50 percent of
households have mailed back their forms. But in parts of Connecticut, the
participation rate is significantly lower, with Hartford one of the
farthest behind at 32 percent.

“We’re concerned about the relatively low response from parts of
Connecticut,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “Every household
that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a
census taker starting in May — at a significant taxpayer cost. The easiest
and best way to be counted in the census is to fill out and return your
form by mail.”

Why single out Connecticut and Chicago when other states and cities are performing even worse? (Conspiracy theorists may start here when they notice that both of these regions tilt Democratic and it would be an insult to the President if Chicago underperformed…)

On Tuesday, a concerned reader wrote to me (note the following numbers have changed since Tuesday…), “This morning the Bureau issued a press release calling out a number of cities and states concerned with their mailback response.  The Bureau called out Anchorage, AK (41% participation response) and Montgomery, AL (41%) as low performing areas.  They also called out several cities in Florida and Jackson Mississippi which have participation rates in the 30’s.

Why did the Census Bureau single out some areas in press releases and not others?  As of Tuesday’s update, these major cities all had participation rates in the 30% range – Houston, TX 33%, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Dallas each at 37%, Austin, TX 33%, Columbus, OH 35%, and Memphis, TN 31%  — yet weren’t mentioned anywhere.

Why call out some locales and not others? If there is a method to this madness, Dr. Groves, Mr. Jost, Mr. Buckner, and other Census Bureau officials are requested to let us know in the comments section why there is such disparity in the levels of attention given by the Bureau to specific poorly performing areas.

Robert M. Groves/Google Press Conference transcript now available…

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Find it here.


The US Census Bureau Falls Short In Paying Contractors, Says GA1 Marketing Firm

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

WASHINGTON, March 23 /PRNewswire/ — Global Advertising 1st (GA1), an award-winning integrated marketing solutions firm, was chosen to meet the US Census Bureau’s increasing needs to recruit applicants for temporary positions necessary to conduct the decennial Census in 2010.

In August of 2009, the US Census Bureau contracted GA1 to handle recruitment advertising in the Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, Kansas City, and Charlotte regions. The campaigns launched during the peak recruiting phase of the 2010 Census, which fell between late 2009 and continues through April 2010.

Although, the efforts of the recruitment campaign have been an overall success, with some regions having a surplus of applicants, the small business agency still has not been paid. The US Census owes GA1 several millions to date and the company has received less than $2,000.00.

“In this economy, it is unfathomable to ask any business, especially one of our size to execute such a major campaign and work six months for free,” says Derrick Hollie, president and CEO of GA1. “GA1 has been caught up in the Census’ red tape and bureaucracy which has resulted in major delays in payment to our firm.”

With an initiative as large as the US Census and the holdup of payment for services rendered, it is impossible for any businesses to survive.  GA1 has continued to extend themselves to this government client despite effects to their credit line and that cannot go on forever.

GA1 was excited to be a part of such an important initiative mandated by the US government, and the agency is prepared to make the 2010 Census a huge success. However, GA1 never thought receiving compensation for work completed would be such an issue.

About GA1:

Global Advertising 1st (GA1) is an award-winning minority-owned, full-service marketing solutions firm that specializes in providing innovative approaches to disseminating our clients’ messages. GA1 has created and implemented campaigns for clients such as the US Department of Education, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Gillette, Dodge, the US Department of State and American Lung Association of DC, and the 2010 US Census. GA1 holds a GSA AIMS Schedule 541 and does the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as a qualified minority-owned business for government media placement certify 8(a). GA1 has also received multiple state and local authorities. For a complete list of our certifications and awards please visit: www.globalad1.com.

Update: Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner sent me the following response to this post:

We are required by law to adhere to federal accounting and financial guidelines, policies and standards to ensure the appropriate use of public funds.  The U.S. Census Bureau promptly pays invoices properly submitted by contractors as long as the information presented in the invoice is correct and is accompanied by the legally required supporting documentation.

In the case of Global Advertising, as of March 25, 2010, the Census Bureau has paid Global Advertising for every invoice properly submitted and accepted. Because they are a small business, we have gone the extra mile and Census Bureau staff personally assisted the company’s employees to prepare their invoices and speed the invoicing process so they can be paid for work performed in an efficient manner.  We deeply regret that the President of Global Advertising did not disclose the extraordinary effort our staff have provided to his company to help them with contract compliance. The Census Bureau values the work of our contractors and will do all that we can to make the invoicing process as smooth as possible, at the same time we are careful stewards of the taxpayers funds.

Stange Twist In West Virginian Post Office/Census Bureau Operations

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Yesterday, we reported that some 2010 Census forms were sent to West Virginia with the wrong city names one the envelopes. Now we are being told that this was intentional, and it won’t mean a loss of funding for the respondents from cities that were affected by this. Admittedly, this still sounds a bit shady, and we don’t plan to take this explaination at face value. Nonetheless, here’s the latest from West Virginia Public Broadcasting:

Census says wrong city name on form is cost-saving measure

March 17, 2010 · U.S. residents are receiving their 2010 Census forms in the mail this week and some in West Virginia are concerned their town won’t be represented, but Census officials say that’s not the case.

Residents in Vienna received Census forms with neighboring Parkersburg listed as their hometown. Vienna’s Mayor is telling them to cross out Parkersburg on the forms and write in Vienna before mailing them back, but Census spokesman John Willse says this is not necessary.

“That shouldn’t concern them at all. That’s just a postal procedure that helps cut costs on distribution or the mailing out,” Willse says.

By Emily Corio

Willse says a 20-digit identification number on each form links the data to the person’s exact street address and hometown.

Official response from GlobalHue…

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Here’s the official response from GlobalHue, answering allegations that were made last week:

March 15, 2010

Contact: Angela Spencer Ford

GlobalHue’s Statement Regarding NNPA Allegations

GlobalHue has long respected the Black Newspapers and their value to the Black community. We are however concerned about the recent allegations from some members of the National Newspaper Publisher Association (NNPA) – also referred to as the Black Press – which was subcontracted by GlobalHue to negotiate and execute all Black newspaper buys for the 2010 Census.

In 2009, following a competitive selection process, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) was selected to manage the Black newspaper buy. The NNPA is headed by Mr. Danny Bakewell, publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel. The NNPA was selected as a subcontractor because of their extensive knowledge about the Black newspaper business.  The NNPA is receiving payment for their services, and Mr. Bakewell is one of two NNPA subcontractors actually conducting the work on behalf of the Census Bureau.

In close consultation with GlobalHue, NNPA conducted negotiations with media properties for ad placements.  NNPA also made recommendations to GlobalHue on what the terms of the agreement with the media vendors should be. One of the items in the negotiations was the added value the media vendors would offer.  All of the more than 3,800 media vendors participating in the 2010 Census media buy were asked to provide added value.  This is a standard industry practice and an important factor in informing the public about the Census.

With regard to added value from the Black newspapers, in a proposal dated 12/31/2009, NNPA recommended that GlobalHue request participating Black newspapers promise the following:

“In lieu of free advertising added value, I recommend we ask all participating newspapers to promise to run, during the paid advertising campaign, at least 6 news articles and 2 editorials stressing the important of completing the 2010 Census. African American/Black readers believe in the Black Press. African American/Black readers have been guided by and represented by the Black Press for more than 100 years. The combination of paid advertising and the Black Press endorsement will have great success in increasing the completion ratio.”

GlobalHue accepted the NNPA’s added-value recommendations and issued insertion orders to all newspapers accordingly.  The added value guidelines as recommended by the NNPA led to concerns by a few representatives of the Black newspaper community.

In response, GlobalHue amended the value added guidelines and new insertion orders were submitted to all of the newspapers that received the original insertion order.  While the new insertion order asked that every paper make an effort to include articles/editorial pieces about the 2010 Census, it also made it clear there was no quid pro quo for advertising buy.

Of the $23 million Black Audience paid media plan, Black newspapers are receiving 11 percent of the ad dollars for this audience. At this time, 173 African American, African, Caribbean and Haitian newspapers in 64 markets across the country are being engaged in the buy.

# # #

The 2010 Census takes to YouTube for a last-minute push…

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Propaganda Minister Census Director Robert M. Groves pleads for your participation…

Ad Scandal: Agency Forces Community Newspapers To Write Six Or More Articles About The 2010 Census

Friday, March 12th, 2010

H/t to Jim Edwards, the former managing editor of AdWeek, for making us aware of the following (full article HERE):

Ad agencies for the U.S. Census Bureau appear to have learned nothing from a decade-old White House scandal — because they’re busy repeating history.

Back in 2000, the White House was discovered trading ad buys with TV networks in return for positive spin in its war on drugs. That covert operation, which exposed millions to anti-drug propaganda masquerading as drama and sitcoms, ended in disgrace and the White House promised to cancel the program.

Ten years later, that promise is long forgotten. Globalhue, the ad agency that controls much of the government’s ad money targeting minorities for Census 2010, sent a letter to the National Newspaper Association demanding that publishers run six articles about the census or else the government would cancel its ads. (The NNPA represents community newspapers.)

While there was no explicit requirement of positive coverage demanded by Globalhue, the implication is clear: How long do you think the agency would continue placing ads in any newspaper that was digging dirt against the national headcount?

According to congressional hearings in February and March, the letter from Globalhue CEO Don Coleman said:

“In lieu of free ad space, all papers must agree to running six articles (preferably during hiatus weeks) about the Census 2010 as well as two editorials. If paper does not agree to the added value stipulations, buy will be canceled immediately.”

Amazingly, the arrangement proposed in the letter — that ad buys be contingent upon articles written by the papers themselves — is exactly the same as the one conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy during its disgraced ads-for-coverage scheme.

Census Takers Begin Hand Delivering 2010 Census Questionnaires to 12 Million Addresses

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Census Bureau Press Release (to read it in its entirety, click HERE):

About 56,000 census workers today began hand delivering 2010 Census questionnaires to roughly 12 million addresses across the nation, mostly in rural areas where people do not receive mail at the same location as their residence. Most of nation’s 120 million households, about 90 percent of the U.S. population, should look for their 10-question forms to arrive by mail mid-March.

While the majority of areas covered by this operation are rural, the Census Bureau also is delivering forms to Gulf Coast areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to ensure everyone is included in the once-a-decade count. Census takers will deliver 2010 Census questionnaires directly to each residence in these areas, leaving a form packaged in a plastic bag at the home’s main door. Residents are encouraged to fill out and mail back their census forms — using the enclosed pre-paid envelope — as soon as possible.

“Regardless of whether your census form gets dropped off at your front door or you receive it within a few weeks in your mailbox, it’s important that you fill it out and mail it back as soon as possible,” said Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. “With only 10 questions, the 2010 Census should only take about 10 minutes to complete.”

In 2000, about 72 percent of the population mailed back their census forms — halting a three-decade decline in the national mail participation rate. Mailing back the forms save taxpayers money, as it reduces the number of census takers that must go door-to-door to follow up with households that failed to do so. The Census Bureau saves about $85 million in operational costs for every percentage point increase in the national mail response rate.

“It costs us just 42 cents in a postage paid envelope when households mail back their 2010 Census forms,” Groves said. “The Census Bureau will spend about $25 per person if we have to go out and knock on the doors of households that don’t mail them back.”

Census Bureau Sends Out Press Release About New Mapping Tool…But Fails To Let Us Know Where On The Internet It Can Be Found!

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

UPDATE: I found the mapping tool on the Census Bureau’s web site under the “Press Release” section. Click HERE to access it. Now, what I can say is that I hope this data is regularly updated throughout the headcount. BUT I have already noticed that data from some towns and cities is present while it is missing for others. The map is filled with blank spots. Why? I’m not sure, but I just e-mailed the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office for answers…

I’ve actually been waiting for the below press release for a really, really long time — ever since Steve Jost told me about this long-awaited new function of the Census Bureau’s web site when we met in Suitland back in October. However, the Census Bureau managed to screw this one up, because they didn’t include a link to the mapping site they are speaking of in their press release. A cursory check of 2010.census.gov reveals nothing of this new mapping tool to check response rates. Nor does a Google search for “2010 Census mapping tool” reveal anything other than the site that allows people to track the Census Bureau’s “Road Tour” vehicles. Come on Census Bureau…tell us where to find the tool!

U.S. CENSUS BUREAU NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, FEB. 25, 2010

Census Bureau Launches Online Mapping Tool Showing
2000 Census Response Rates to Help Communities
Prepare for 2010 Census

With mail-out of the 2010 Census forms less than one month away, the
Census Bureau today unveiled a new online mapping tool that allows
communities nationwide to prepare for the 2010 Census by seeing how well
they did mailing back their 2000 Census forms.

Visitors to the new Google-based map will be able to find the 2000
Census mail participation rates for states, counties and cities, as well as
smaller areas called “census tracts.” After the 2010 Census forms are
mailed out in mid-March, the online map will be updated to include a
tracking tool with daily updates of the 2010 Census mail participation
rates for local areas across the nation. Users will be able to compare
their 2010 Census progress using their 2000 Census rates as a benchmark.

“The future of your community starts with a look at its past,” said
Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. “The 2000 Census map allows
communities to see which areas need extra attention and reminders to
improve mail participation. We will be challenging communities nationwide
to take 10 minutes to fill out and mail back their 2010 Census forms next
month.” The Census Bureau has also created an online toolkit with ideas
that communities can use to inspire their residents to improve their mail
participation rate.

The emphasis on encouraging mail participation in the census is a
practical one. For every
1 percent increase in mail response, taxpayers will save an estimated $85
million in federal funds. Those funds would otherwise be required to send
census takers to collect census responses in person from households that
don’t mail back the form. After the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau was able
to return $305 million in savings to the federal Treasury because mail
rates exceeded expectations ¯ a move the Census Bureau would like to repeat
in 2010.

In 2000, 72 percent of households that received a form mailed it back.
The mail participation rate is a new measure designed to give a better
picture of actual participation by factoring out census forms that the U.S.
Postal Service was unable to deliver as addressed. It should be
particularly useful in areas with seasonal populations or a large number of
vacancies or foreclosures.

As required by the U.S. Constitution, the once-a-decade census must
count every person living in the United States. Census data are the basis
for our democratic system of government, ensuring that representation in
government is equally distributed. The data also help determine how more
than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed to state local and
tribal governments every year. That includes money that could go toward
roads, hospitals, schools and critical social services.

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!”

Senate Hearing: Countdown to Census Day

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

NOTE: THIS MEETING IS NOW POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER!

FOR RELEASE: Feb. 10, 2010

U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs

HEARING: “Countdown to Census Day: Progress Report on the Census Bureau’s Preparedness for the Enumeration”

WASHINGTON (Feb. 10, 2010) – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security, will hold a hearing TOMORROW, Thursday, Feb. 11, at 2:30 p.m. titled “Countdown to Census Day: Progress Report on the Census Bureau’s Preparedness for the Enumeration.”

With less than two months until Census Day 2010, Dr. Robert Groves and other officials will give the committee a progress report.

WHAT:

“Countdown to Census Day: Progress Report on the Census Bureau’s Preparedness for the Enumeration”

WHEN:

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.

WHERE:

342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Also scheduled to live broadcast at http://hsgac.senate.gov.

WITNESSES:

- The Honorable Robert M. Groves, Director, U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce

- The Honorable Todd J. Zinser, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce

- Robert N. Goldenkoff, Director, Strategic Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office

###

The Super Bowl Ad: The Census Bureau Responds To MyTwoCensus Questions

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com has received a fair share of e-mails from Americans who are all asking the same question: Why did the Census Bureau choose to purchase a multimillion dollar Super Bowl advertisement? Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner has responded to this and other related questions below:

Questions from Stephen Robert Morse, Founder/Editor of MyTwoCensus.com: Whose idea was it to air an ad for the Census Bureau during the Super Bowl? Who chose Christopher Guest as the director of the ad? Who chose which specific ad or ads will run? Which ad or ads will run? Were there ever focus groups to see how effective the ads were? If so, where and when did these focus groups take place? What were the results of these studies?

Answers from Stephen Buckner, Assistant Division Chief, Decennial Programs, Public Information Office:

The essential challenge for the Census is that because it happens only once
every ten years, many U.S. residents are unaware of when it happens (in
March) and how they participate (by mail).  Our own research in late 2009
showed less than 10% of Americans surveyed correctly answered that the 2010
Census occurred in March.  

The first goal of our promotion efforts is to
raise awareness of the when and how the Census works.  We have a very
limited window of opportunity to achieve our goals Jan – April, and
therefore need programming that delivers high ratings.   The 2000 Census
paid advertising campaign also had a Super Bowl ad for just this reason.

The Super Bowl is the top-rated and most highly anticipated television
event in the U.S.  An ad running once in the Super Bowl has the potential
to reach 45% adults over age 18.  For comparison, CSI which is one of the
top rated programs on television delivers a 6.6 rating with adults, which
is a fraction of the reach of the Super Bowl.   A 30 second spot on the
top-rated regularly scheduled show in America, American Idol costs $450,000
and has a 9.5 rating, or just 9.5% of adults are watching.   The Super Bowl
reaches 100 million viewers at a very efficient price compared to other
shows.

 The Super Bowl is rare, in that viewers are just as tuned in to see the
commercials as the program itself.  Commercials that air on the Super Bowl
have a multiplier effect.  Advertisers are mentioned in multiple news media
outlets and viewers will typically look to view them online almost
immediately after airing.  Therefore, airing once in the Super Bowl creates
significant buzz leading to additional viewing potential.

Our media buy with CBS consists of (1) 30 second ad in the 3rd Quarter.
CBS provided added value in the form of (2) more 30 second ads in the
pre-game show and an additional (2-3) 12-second vignettes featuring James
Brown delivering a message on behalf of the Census.  We believe the message
delivered by James Brown who is the host of the day, will carry great
weight with viewers.

We did not choose the Super Bowl itself for an ad, or at the expense of
some other programming.  We went where the audience was to be found, and
CBS put the Super Bowl into their proposal for all Census ad dollars, along
with the NCAA finals and other high profile programming.  NBC similarly
offered us special programming for advertising during the Olympics.

We did conduct focus groups and other research for all of our paid
advertising concepts in 2009, including the concept of a “Snap Shot of 300
million Americans” which became the ads being directed by Christopher
Guest.  They tested very positively.  We conducted a total of 115 focus
groups in 37 markets cities across the United States for all our
advertising, television, radio, print, digital and out door.

The first ad in the series is currently airing and will also air during the
Super Bowl pre-game. A new will air during the game, but if we told you
what it was all about, it would spoil all the suspense.  While we reply on
the professional expertise and advice of our expert advertising
contractors, the Census Bureau is responsible for these ads and their
placement.

Finally, Super Bowl advertisers see a significant lift in internet searches
which is a great opportunity for Census to drive traffic to 2010census.gov
to further educate viewers on the Census.

Nevada awards $866,000 public relations contract

Monday, January 11th, 2010

The public relations firm Weber Shandwick has been awarded an $866,000 contract for a 2010 Census outreach program in Nevada, according to a press release from the company.

The Nevada Secretary of State’s office awarded the contract.

A few more details from Weber Shandwick:

The Minneapolis office of Weber Shandwick, which directs the firm’s work on the national Census effort, has assigned a separate team to lead the Nevada campaign. The Nevada program includes advertising support from Sawyer Miller Advertising and Hispanic and African American outreach by Weber Shandwick’s multi-cultural firm, the Axis Agency. Weber Shandwick has subcontracted with The Ferraro Group of Reno and Las Vegas to assist in executing the plan. Weber Shandwick’s contract runs through the end of April.

Census road tour updates: Twitter feeds and tour stops

Monday, January 4th, 2010

The 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour is launching in New York City today, and we have a few updates on the tour:

There will be one national vehicle and 13 smaller regional vehicles. The national vehicle, which will be unveiled today in Times Square, is a 46-foot gooseneck trailer towed by a dual axle, quad-cab pick-up truck. It’s expected to visit high-profile events nationwide.

The regional vehicles are sprinter cargo vans towing 14-foot bumper pull trailers. They’ll be at a variety of events in their areas.

The vehicles, which the Census Bureau has named, are equipped with GPS technology to track their progress online. Each vehicle also has it’s own Twitter feed.

After the jump, see the full list of regional vehicles, Twitter feeds and locations the national vehicle is slated to visit.

(more…)

New York awards grants for Census outreach

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Happy new year, everyone. It’s now Census year! We’ve valued all of your comments, e-mails and suggestions in 2009. Keep them coming in 2010.

To start off the new year, we have a funding announcement — and some disappointed groups — up in New York. The state is distributing $2 million in grants to community groups and local governments for census outreach, but the allocations are already under fire from at least one who group that applied for, but did not receive, funds.

According to a release from Gov. David Paterson’s office, grants were awarded in two categories. Funds for outreach and mobilization will help recipients distribute information, train community members to encourage census participation and help hard-to-count groups fill out the census form. Grants for media campaigns will fund census promotion in print, broadcast and online media.

Here’s a full list of groups and local governments that received funding:

Outreach and mobilization grants

  • Asian American Federation
  • CAMBA, Inc.
  • Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce
  • Centro Cultural Hispano de Oyster Bay, East Norwich
  • Chinese-American Planning Council
  • Citizens Advice Bureau, Inc.
  • City of Albany, Vital Statistics
  • City of Buffalo
  • City of New Rochelle
  • City of Syracuse, Department of Community Development
  • City of Rochester
  • City of White Plains
  • City of Yonkers
  • Council of Peoples Organization
  • County of St. Lawrence
  • Emerald Isle Immigration Center
  • Hagedorn Foundation
  • Hispanic Federation
  • Make the Road New York
  • Medgar Evers College (CUNY) Center for Law and Social Justice
  • The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
  • NYS Association of Regional Councils
  • Sesame Flyers International, Inc.

Media Campaign Grants

  • Asian American Federation
  • Asian Americans for Equality
  • City of Buffalo
  • City of Rochester
  • Hagedorn Foundation
  • Hispanic Federation
  • New York Immigration Coalition
  • Voto Latin

But one group not on those lists was quick to issue a statement criticizing the allocations yesterday. CaribID2010, which is advocating for the Census Bureau to add a Caribbean-American or West Indian category to census forms, says it deserved a grant due to its record of partnerships with media, churches and other groups to educate Caribbean Americans about the census.

CaribID2010 also criticized the state for not awarding a media grant to a Caribbean-focused group. Felicia Persaud, the group’s founder, called the decision “an insult and an outrage” in the statement.

Readers, where else have state grants been awarded? And what has the reaction been?