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 ‘Statistics’ Category

2010 Census results will be released tomorrow…

Monday, December 20th, 2010

11AM EST tomorrow. The data dump you’ve all been waiting for. Early predictions are that the GOP will score big (because of wins in the November elections that will enable the GOP to redraw the maps of many Congressional and state districts).

Take a look at the Census Bureau’s interactive map HERE.

PS – It’s a shame that there are so few demographics reporters out there these days to deeply analyze this data at the local and regional level.

Ed O’Keefe: 2010 Census results coming Dec. 21

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

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

How many people live in the United States? Where do they live? Where did they move from? Which states get more seats in Congress?

We’ll start getting answers next week, when the U.S. Census Bureau fulfills its constitutional mandate and presents the results of the 2010 Census.

The data will include the total population for the country, each of the 50 states and the Congressional apportionment totals for each.

By law, the Census Bureau must report the decennial census results to the president by Dec. 31.

From the Census Bureau…

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Sens. Carper, Coburn Hail Senate Passage of Bipartisan Census Reform Bill

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

FOR RELEASE: Dec. 9, 2010

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the census, hailed the unanimous Senate passage of legislation that brings much needed stability of leadership and organizational reform to the Census Bureau, the nation’s largest general-purpose statistical agency. The Census Oversight and Management Act of 2010, co-authored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), is crafted to improve Census management challenges which arise from the fact the Census operates on a constitutionally mandated ten-year cycle while Presidential administrations which oversee management of the Census operate on a four-year cycle. The bill strengthens Congressional oversight of the Census to help prevent operational problems that have emerged on the eve of the censuses in 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010, in part from a lack of steady leadership and management due to changes in Presidential administrations.

The Census Oversight, Efficiency and Management Reform Act would ensure that the Census Bureau enjoys the independence of governance that will best enable it to perform its essential function in the following ways:

o   Makes the Director of the Census Bureau a presidential term appointment of five years, with the 10-year decennial cycle split into two, five-year phases – planning and operational, creating continuity across administrations.

o   Gives the Director the independence to report directly to the Secretary of Commerce without being required to report through any other official at the Commerce Department.

o   Requires the Director to submit to Congress a comprehensive annual report on the next decennial census, with a description of the Bureau’s performance standards and a risk-assessment of each significant decennial operation.

o   Requires the Bureau to test, develop, and implement an option for internet response to the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey.

“This bill is an important step forward in our effort to modernize and improve the Census process,” said Sen. Carper. “By working with our colleagues across the aisle, we were able to enact several common sense reforms that will strengthen the Census Bureau and enhance our ability to conduct a thorough, cost effective, and accurate Census.  I’d like to thank my colleagues for passing this bill and look forward to seeing a stronger, improved Census in 2020 and beyond.”

“In an age where the internet has become a primary form of communication and administration, getting the Census online by 2020 is a top priority. Although this is only the first step, it helps lay the groundwork for conducting cost-effective oversight that will give Congress and the Census Director the ability to better manage this Constitutional responsibility,” said Sen. Coburn, M.D.

###

Census Bureau to Host Webinar on 2010 Demographic Analysis

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

What:    The Census Bureau will hold a webinar prior to the Dec. 6 release
of the 2010 Demographic Analysis estimates of the national
population by age, sex and race. The webinar will help explain the
methodology behind demographic analysis, why it is conducted and
how it relates to 2010 Census numbers and other U.S. population
figures being released by the Census Bureau. Although not 2010
Census counts, these estimates provide one way of measuring the
size of the U.S. population and will be used to analyze 2010
Census results.

The webinar will consist of a simultaneous audio conference and
online presentation. Reporters will be able to ask questions
following the online presentation.

Date:    Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010

Time:    1:15-2 p.m. EST

Who:     Jason Devine, chief, Methodology, Research and Development Branch,
Estimates and Projections, Population Division

Conference details: Audio conference access information —
Toll free number: 888-324-9312
Participant passcode: CENSUS
Questions and answers are limited to media

Online presentation access information —
Please log in early, as some setup is required.
URL: https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join/
Conference number: PW9500032
Audience passcode: CENSUS

Who estimated the 2010 Census supplies and printed materials contract? (RIP dead trees!)

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
The following article comes from a former 2010 Census manager:
A month ago, MyTwoCensus posted a picture of hundreds of boxes of materials that were being recycled. Although no one will argue that recycling is good for the environment, the truth is none of this should of been printed in the first place. The Census Bureau estimate of the census forms they needed were off completely wrong and here’s why:
The company contracted to print the enumerator questionnaires (D1-E) printed over 200 million questionnaires. However the NRFU workload was only estimated to be 47 million households. Critics could argue that the NRFU workload was unknown before the printing contract was awarded however the American Community Survey estimate of 2008 only showed 128 million households in the United States. If America had a zero percent response rate they would still require only 128 million questionnaires, not the 200 million that was printed. There were 15 million enumerator supplemental questionnaires (D-1E SUPP) printed which field staff used when there were six or more household members. Information on how many households have six or more people was unavailable however only 23.4% of American households have 4 or more members. Any statistician can say with confidence that households with six or more members is negligible.
The errors in estimate cascaded to other printed materials such as information sheets and notice of visits also being overprinted. For example even though census procedures specifically allowed only three personal visits; in some regions to increase accuracy and avoid going to a proxy some enumerators made more than three visits. However Stephen Morse’s picture clearly shows there are still hundreds of boxes of these forms unused. Another example were the forms for eligibility employment verification (I-9) forms. The contract for the I-9 forms was 20 million, yet the census only ended up hiring about 600,000 employees across the nation and estimates show only a couple of million applicants.
None of this news should be surprising, Census models are completely inadequate. In 2009 during address canvassing they threw away millions of taxpayers’ dollars on training employees for which there was little or no work available. Each office returned palettes and palettes of office supplies such as pens, pencils, paper clips and rubber bands. The companies contracted to provide these were the ones who received the money.
If Census managers are infuriated over this picture perhaps they should be funneling their energy towards ensuring that their money is spent on technology that actually works and the proper amount of printing. Surely printing 200 million questionnaires for just 48 million households assuming assignment prep error is a little overkill.

Transcript of Census Bureau’s latest operational press briefing

Monday, November 8th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

AOL News: 2010 Census reveals possible undercount

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

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

Countdown to Congressional reapportionment: 56 days

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

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

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

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Census Bureau will hold press briefing later today…

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Feel free to listen in on the phone!

** CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORY **

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 25th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

About the United States Census

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

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

Challenges

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

Solution and Results

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

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

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

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

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

Government Agile Success Tour

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

About ICS

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

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

About Rally

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

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

Here’s the press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Data releases begin; more to come

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPCOMING CENSUS BUREAU RELEASES:

OCTOBER:
2009 American Community Survey estimates

DECEMBER:
2010 Census state counts

Census Bureau demographic analysis

2005-2009 American Community Survey estimates

JANUARY:
2007-2009 American Community Survey estimates

FEBRUARY TO MARCH:
Redistricting data from the 2010 Census

Transcript from latest Census Bureau press conference

Monday, September 27th, 2010

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

The Census Bureau just launched its own official blog…

Friday, September 24th, 2010

It’s called Random Samplings. Check it out HERE.

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

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Census Bureau official criticizes $1.6 billion savings

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

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

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

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

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

The next phase of MyTwoCensus.com

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Update: To any former Census Bureau employees who may be interested in working on MyTwoCensus.com, I am aware that a misleading gag order was sent to many of you with your final paycheck that addressed the issues of social media and blogging. However, so long as you are not revealing Title 13 information, you are free to blog as you wish. Steve Jost of the Census Bureau commented on another Census worker’s blog, “…Upon reading it I went right to the Chief Information Officer to find if the Census Bureau has “shut down” a blog or website and he reported “none”. At it’s worst, our information technology protections might block Census staff from visiting websites identified has having malware or threats, but never shut down a site like yours. So, please keep on blogging.” So, follow his advice, and keep on blogging!

(Here’s what a 2010 Census gag order looks like)

To the readers of MyTwoCensus.com:

As the operations of the 2010 US Census wind down, the activities of MyTwoCensus.com will follow suit. As of this week, there will no longer be daily updates on this site, but when there is news, information, or investigations regarding the 2010 Census or the Census Bureau, you should continue to look here for information. If readers want to suggest future topics for me to write about or investigate, please contact me without hesitation.

(That said, if anyone out there wishes to take over this blog and update it daily or multiple times per week, I would be glad to hand over/share the reins! Please get in touch as I am happy to bring some fresh talent and watchful eyes aboard.)

This blog started from humble beginnings in San Francisco in early February 2009. In its first weeks, MyTwoCensus.com received great recognition from Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post and David Weir from BNet, which surely kept it chugging along.

The Census Bureau’s Public Information Office (Stephen Buckner in particular during those early days) fielded many questions from me and provided this fledgling news organization with invaluable information and clarifications.

From June 2009-June 2010, MyTwoCensus was funded by a generous grant from The Phillips Foundation. Despite critics of this blog decrying The Phillips Foundation as a “conservative” organization, it is 100% true that nobody other than I, Stephen Robert Morse, had any control over the editorial content of this blog (with the exception of some great interns who provided excellent commentary and news when I was on vacation). In fact, the Phillips Foundation’s hands-off approach is what led MyTwoCensus to experiment with different styles of reportage.

And, perhaps most of all, the site would not have been possible without the dedication and expertise of Evan Goldin, MyTwoCensus.com’s Chief Technology Officer, who has been constantly tweaking and improving this site. Any blogger would be lucky to have a guy like Evan as a dear friend and colleague.

As readers, you have been an extremely insightful bunch. You have directed me down the path to investigate many aspects of 2010 Census operations that would otherwise never have been covered or discussed by the media. I am proud to say that more than one million unique visitors have come to MyTwoCensus.com as a source of information since we started tracking analaytics.

The 2010 Census is not yet over. Some time before December 31, 2010, the results of the 2010 Census will be made public, which will initiate a major scramble for power. With redistricting, Congressional reapportionment, and gerrymandering arriving after the new year, there will surely be a wealth of information to gather and report. (If any readers are interested in collaborating on watchdog or reporting efforts surrounding these activities, please let me know.)

The MyTwoCensus Community forum (located on the upper right portion of the page) will remain open indefinitely for readers to share their comments and opinions.

Best regards,

Stephen Robert Morse

PS – To any media/non-profit/corporate organizations or individuals seeking comments or appearances related to MyTwoCensus.com or the 2010 Census, feel free to contact me.