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

Transcript from Dr. Groves’ most recent press conference..and a funny story

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Update: For some reason, comments were turned off for this post. Now that I noticed the problem, they are turned on.

Note: For a few months now, the Census Bureau has prevented me from asking questions when I dial in by phone to their monthly press conferences. The Bureau prefers to take questions from journalists with little or no knowledge about 2010 Census operations, because such questions will be less pointed/inflammatory.

Such was the case last week at Dr Groves’ press conference when question after question was asked and I was not selected to ask mine.  II was forced to resort to plan B: I dialed in to the press conference on a second phone line,  using a false name, “John Smith”, representing a fictional publication, “The Ocean Side Gazette” in order to have my question asked. Within minutes of this call ending, Steve Jost (the Census Bureau’s #2 political appointee)  acknowledged that people realized it was me on the line.

I find it both shocking and despicable that a fictional journalist from a fictional publication gets better treatment from the Census Bureau’s management at press conferences than Stephen Robert Morse of MyTwoCensus.com trying to ask tough questions.

Here’s the transcript:

http://2010.census.gov/news/pdf/transcript_8-10-10.pdf

Texas residents aren’t counted

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Here’s an article that discusses some major counting problems in El Paso County, Texas. Hopefully this is an isolated incident of neglect.

China counts 4 times as many people at 1/12 the cost…

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Here’s an article about China’s 2010 Census, which will cost $1.18 billion.

Interesting take on New York 2010 Census spending…

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Please keep in mind that the following opinion piece from Matt Schaertl on MPNnow.com doesn’t even factor in many millions of federal dollars that were allocated for 2010 Census PR and advertising in New York:

Canandaigua, N.Y. —

Too frequently, I receive emailed newsletters from Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez, New York’s secretary of state, informing me how her department is doing a terrific job and should be expanded. I do not really know how she received my email address, but it’s good reading when I am in a cynical mood, or when I need something to think about when I wake up in the middle of the night.

In her last newsletter, besides mentioning herself 28 times, she highlights the additional “$2 million in grants to bolster mobilization and media campaigns around the 2010 census,” and how those grants improved returns. What she does not say is that the grants improved the return by only 190,000 people. In other words, taxpayers spent, on average, an additional $50 in advertising for every lazy family of five that can’t manage to walk out to the mailbox, or, perhaps, don’t know where the mailbox or post office is.

She also mentions that because of the extra effort, there were “dozens of non-profits that worked together for the first time.” Wow, dozens out of tens of thousands in the state.

It seems like a more reasonable solution would be to use tax returns and Social Security numbers (dependents are listed on tax returns) backed up with driver licenses to gather census information. Question for Cortes-Vazquez: If 59 percent of state residents responded to the 2000 census and 60 percent responded to the most recent census, then how do they know that the other 40 percent even exist? According to the state website, New York City represents approximately 44 percent of the state’s population; something does not sit right.

Census Director Robert M. Groves’ update on the 2012 Census (transcript not yet available)

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Census Bureau returns $$ to the Treasury…but how do we know this now when operations are ongoing?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Well, in anticipation of Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves’ press conference that starts in just over an hour (yes, for those people on the West Coast this is conveniently timed for 7AM – perhaps a move so nobody is actually on the call) the Commerce Department announced that the Census Bureau is under-budget and is returning more than $1.5 billion to the Treasury Department. Obviously, the timing of this statement is a Public Relations coup d’etat prior to the press conference, with the hopes of deflecting the rather tough questions that should be asked in regard to faulty operations.  But let’s get some things straight here: The Census Bureau received $1 billion in  extra cash from the stimulus package, so that means that its budget swelled to $14.7 billion after the initial budgeting was done. Additionally, the 2010 Census is NOT FINISHED. There are ongoing operations, including Census Coverage Measurement (CCM) and the recently added NRFU Residual Follow-Up. How much will these operations cost?

*Also, a note about the media: The mainstream media has been ALL OVER reporting this issue. I am upset by this for 2 reasons: 1. The media goes nuts whenever the Census Bureau does something good, but fails to criticize it when it is wrong. 2. I never received this press release even though I have informed the Census Bureau on numerous occasions that their time-sensitive releases don’t reach my inbox, and they have repeatedly assured me that they will correct the problem, but this hasn’t happened yet.

Whole community missed by the 2010 Census

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Here’s a story from the Press of Atlantic City that explains how Little Egg Harbor Township wasn’t counted in the 2010 Census:

LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — When Township Committeeman Eugene Kobryn did not receive a census form in the mail, just as many of the other residents in the township’s Cross Creek community, he figured he would eventually get a knock on the door.

“Nobody ever came,” said Kobryn, 72. “They missed the entire section we live in.”

A data collection glitch has caused millions of U.S. homes to go uncounted in the recent census form, including hundreds in Little Egg Harbor Township alone, census and township officials say.

Census takers missed more than 200 homes in the Cross Creek community, a housing subdivision off Center Street, a major roadway, a regional census official said.

The U.S. Census Bureau has acknowledged the errors and said it is working to correct the problem.

If you were not counted in the 2010 Census, click here.

But township officials fear their municipality will be shortchanged as a result — losing government aid and possibly lessening the state’s influence in Washington.  Census data collected during the 2006-08 American Community Survey show 20,527 people living in the township, a nearly 29 percent increase over the 15,945 counted in 1990.

Township officials want to make sure the full growth is measured.

“Accuracy is paramount to the census program. … The government strictly distributes funding based on population, and the representation in Congress is based on population. It’s all tied together,” Kobryn  said. “What if you went to the bank and they told you an error caused a shortfall in your account of 5 (percent), 10 (percent) or 20 percent? Would you be OK with that? But if our count is wrong, it impacts all of the other towns by us.”

Kobryn said he was told that his neighborhood was not on the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent maps.

“We’ve been here for seven years,” he said. “If we weren’t on their maps, who else did they miss?”

Philip Lutz, an assistant regional census manager for the Philadelphia region, which covers Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia and 11 southern counties of New Jersey, said as many as 3 million addresses in the country were not on census maps.

Lutz said the bureau sent workers out in 2009 to make sure the maps it had — which are largely created by gathering information from the postal service, municipalities, county planning offices and the general public — were accurate prior to the surveys going out.

“In this area, that was not done as well as it should’ve been done,” Lutz said.

Lutz  blamed the undercounting in part to the bureau having to hire “temporary people” every decade to perform these jobs. “Sometimes it’s not a perfect process, which is why we built-in other operations to fill in the gaps.”

One of these operations, Lutz said, is the bureau’s New Construction Program that enables municipalities to report any new developments completed between the time the census workers last updated the address lists and April 1, 2010.

Census workers will also remain on the streets for the next few weeks to count and verify addresses, Lutz said.

CLICK HERE for the rest of the story…

Census workers call results into question

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Ex-workers in California count allege falsified data, inaccuracy.

Posted at 09:18 PM on Thursday, Aug. 05, 2010

By Michael Doyle / Bee Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Federal investigators probing discrimination complaints filed by former California census workers also are looking into allegations that management pressure drove some workers to cut corners or even falsify data in the crucial population count.

In one case, a former census worker allegedly tallied residents of a migrant farmworkers’ camp on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side, even though the camp itself was abandoned because of the region’s irrigation water shortage.

“The goals had everything to do with speed, and nothing to do with accuracy,” said Craig Baltz, a former worker in one of the Census Bureau’s two Fresno offices. “Instead of slowing down to ensure accurate data, we sped up.”

Baltz added that in some difficult-to-reach areas, “enumerators had two choices — turn in accurate work [late] and get written up or terminated, or falsify data and keep working.”

Baltz worked for the census between October 2009 and July 2010.



The Mysteries of CCM (Census Coverage Management)

Friday, August 6th, 2010

There are many mysteries surrounding Census Coverage Management. (Some are discussed here in this Powerpoint presentation.) The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published some critiques/suggestions for CCM back in April, but it is unknown if these recommendations have been implemented. Today, out of the blue, I received some updates to my FOIA request from February that sought to examine correspondences between various officials. (Presumably, this sudden appearance of information had something to do with the fallout of Mr. Jost’s mention of this request the other day in the comments section of this blog.)  If you start at page 32, you will get to read quite a bit of information about Census Coverage Management, a most important 2010 Census operation. Here’s the document:

FOIA response on 8-5-10

Census Bureau creates a new operation (late in the game)

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

For the past week, MyTwoCensus has received reports that the Census Bureau is undergoing some NEW unscheduled/unplanned operations. The question now is WHY? Was the previous data poor?

Here’s an e-mail that was recently sent to 2010 Census managers:

From:
FLD Decennial Data Collection

To:

FLD Regional Directors, FLD Deputy Regional Directors List, FLD ARCM, FLD 2010 Regional Offices List, TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010/BOC@BOC, FLD Decennial Assistant Division Chiefs List, FLD Decennial Branch Chiefs

Cc:

mtrocki@oig.doc.govfmeny@oig.doc.gov, Fay F Nash/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Barbara H Campbell/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Barbara J Biebl/DACMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Darlene L Monaco/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Susanna J Winder/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Shelley A Walker/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Hilda S Dimmock/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Ellen W Cafarella/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Lucia J Chavez/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Rodney Peter De Peiza/DACMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Annetta Clark Smith/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Nancy E Kolkebeck/PHRCC/BOC@BOC, PHRCC Area Managers List@BOC, Patricia A Boykin/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Eric L Cheevers/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Julia A Shaw/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, FLD Decennial Data Collection@BOC, Irvin Vann/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Kimberly L Canada/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Craig D Ostrom/DACMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, kamro@ics-nett.com, Andrew G Knaster/DACMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Sarah K Heimel/DSSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Geoffrey I Jackson/DSSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, William H Johnson Jr/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC

Date:

07/30/2010 02:11 PM

Subject:

2010 NRFU NRFU Residual Follow-up Ops Log – July 30, 2010

Sent by:

Hilda S Dimmock

ACTION:  July 30, 2010  NRFU Residual Follow-up Ops Log
Regional Census Centers should share the appropriate portions of information in this Ops Log with their LCOs

This is the first Ops Log related to the recently added NRFU Residual Follow-up Operation.  The operation universe, rules and procedures are in the final approval stage, but we are providing the following  field dates to aid in planning:

  • 8/11 Scheduled release of PBOCS for NRFU RES for Assignment Prep
  • 8/12 Begin Field enumeration
  • 8/21 Begin Final Attempt for cases
  • 8/24 End of field enumeration
  • 8/25 All EQs MUST be shipped to the data capture centers

Highlights of the operations are as follows:

  • Training will be similar to VDC in that we will provide a Job Aid for Enumerators, Crew Leaders/Field Operations Supervisors and NRFU Residual section for the Office Manual.
  • We will provide information on the size of the universe by early next week.
  • Assignment Preparation will very similar to NRFU VDC.
  • Field staff active in NRFU VDC will be available in NRFU Res.
  • Enumerators should be encouraged to get as many accurate interviews as possible during the short enumeration period based on the status of the address as of April 1, 2010.   What this means is that they should visit during the best time to catch the occupants at home and to continue to contact every address in their assignment before going back for the second or third attempt.
  • There will be no added HU during the operation.
  • There will be no RI attempts during the operation.
  • The Operation will use Operation Code ’91′ and Task code ’091′ for payroll

——————————————————————————-
> Please reply directly to “FLD Decennial Data Collection”

WSJ: Alternative methods of counting for the Census Bureau

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Here’s a great article from the Wall Street Journal…Be careful, otherwise you might end up like William Rickenbacker:

By CARL BIALIK

Even in a mandatory census, there are conscientious objectors.

Completing a census form is required by law, but census takers haven’t been able to get any information from more than 500,000 U.S. households this year. While census evaders theoretically can be fined up to $5,000, in practice they are rarely penalized—none were in 2010 or in 2000—for fear of creating a public backlash.

[NUMBGUY] Eddie Rickenbacker Papers, Auburn University Library Special CollectionsWilliam Rickenbacker was fined $100 for refusing to respond to a 1960 census questionnaire, making him one of the few Americans to ever face a penalty for noncompliance.

Instead, the Census Bureau combines threats of penalties with painstaking follow-up over the phone and in person, including interviews with neighbors of nonresponding households. That approach, backed by rapidly rising spending for advertising and census workers, yields near-complete coverage of the U.S. population.

That balancing act is costly, but it yields better statistics than a voluntary census, statisticians say. Calling a survey mandatory boosts participation significantly, they argue, even when enforcement is limited. That is why some data experts in Canada are assailing the government’s new plan to make many census questions there optional.

But as the 2010 U.S. decennial census winds down, a number of critics say even more reliable demographic data could be obtained at far less cost. They point to a system in some European countries that links personal identification numbers to government records on births, deaths, housing and other characteristics. That allows for an annual census rather than waiting every 10 years, and eliminates much of the error experts say arises when people self-report their information.

“The statistical systems in the Netherlands and Germany are much better than our statistical system, because they have a registration system,” said Kenneth Prewitt, the director of the Census Bureau during the 2000 census and now a professor of public affairs at Columbia University. (more…)

How to submit inaccurate or incomplete 2010 Census data (and get away with it)

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Last week, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said to Fox News that you can “trust 2010 Census data.” What our director fails to tell us is that the two software applications have operational problems that will ultimately lead to inaccurate data. Just spend a day working in PBOCS, the Paper-Based Operational Control System which processes enumerator questionnaires from the field, or MARCS, the Matching Address Review Coding System which shows a data capture of every questionnaire that was scanned at the Baltimore Data Capture Center and you will see the poor quality of work. Thousands upon thousands of questionnaires are being scanned that show conflicting or incomplete data such as: vacant housing units with a population count, incorrect enumerator IDs, occupied housing units with no demographic information and the list goes on.

During the peak of the non-response follow-up (NRFU) phase of 2010 Census operations (around mid May), the Census switched to a shipping application built off a PeopleSoft/Oracle interface in order to take the load off PBOCS. Although this was a good thought in theory, the application allowed questionnaires to be shipped that were not even checked in PBOCS. In the final closeout days of the operation, PBOCS claimed many questionnaires were not checked in even though enumerators fervently claimed they turned them in. Fortunately some of those were found in MARCS having been received at the data capture center but never scanned for shipping nor checked in. However because there was such a bottleneck sometimes a few weeks between the time they were shipped and scanned; some questionnaires that never showed in MARCS were re-enumerated. Sometimes PBOCS would just revert some cases back to not being checked in. In a mad dash to finish and meet deadlines enumerators submitted second versions of questionnaires with little or less than accurate data replacing what may or may not have been originally submitted. Immediately after offices finished NRFU, headquarters closed the PBOCS to the local census offices to prevent further glitches.

As it has been mentioned time and time again, the Census never made it clear what constituted a completed questionnaire. In such a recession, employees were promised more work if they finished quickly so experienced and resourceful field staff took advantage of the three visit rule sometimes making visits in consecutive days or all in a one day before going to a proxy. Local census offices managers, RCC supervisors and managers developed their own rules which were verbally communicated to field staff. These included guesstimating the population count and allowing enumerators to submit Enumerator Questionnaires (EQs) with little or no demographic information. Since performance was purely based on how many questionnaires get checked in; those who submitted hundreds of forms with nothing on the inside of the questionnaire were rewarded with more work.

On the quality assurance end, the staff attempted to examine the data collected for falsification and poor work quality. However reinterview only has been able to find those who intentionally falsified data. An enumerator can submit inaccurate or incomplete data and practically get away with it.

Most enumerators will be tempted to submit inaccurate data when they cannot gain access to the building, speak to a household member or knowledgeable proxy after repeated visits. The reinterview telephone clerks and field staff have to prove definitively by gaining access to the building or speaking to a respondent who said the interview was never conducted. But in reality the reinterview staff can never access the building, or with large apartment buildings sometimes a proxy is asked about hundreds of units and may not remember if the original interview occurred. Most of these bad data cases have little or no information or wrong information: no names, ages, Hispanic origin, race and sometimes not even a person count. But quality assurance staff have either been told to mark them refusals with an unknown population and check them in.

In the rare instance that the Census Bureaus’s quality assurance (QA) operations do suspect data falsification or inaccuracy, finding the culprit is difficult. There are thousands of questionnaires where the enumerator ID numbers are being read incorrectly at data capture. This invites data falsification in two ways. If a questionnaire is found to be inaccurate or falsified then it is impossible to find the culprit. If quality assurance staff does find an enumerator is submitting falsified or inaccurate work, they can not examine the other questionnaires the enumerator completed because many questionnaires do not have a valid enumerator associated with it.

In the current Vacant/Delete check phase of 2010 Census operations, while the agency covered up their own software problems by closing access to PBOCS, they have also created problems. For hundreds of questionnaires where enumerators clearly marked them vacant or deletes without visiting them LCOs cannot access the system to research who actually submitted this erroneous work.

Most of this is happening now in your local census offices across the country as the re-interview phase winds down. This is because of a huge backlog of EQs that were sent into re-interview, hundreds of outliers, and the slowness of MARCS. This inaccurate data is another smear of shame for the Census Bureau. For Dr. Groves to say that we can trust 2010 Census data is merely a cover-up.

Here are some e-mails sent to 2010 Census managers across the nation that detail the aforementioned problems:

07/18/2010

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT: 1- PW Flags randomly appearing or disappearing on the Select Enumerator screen
2- Loss of notes in the LCO Notes panel on the Evaluate Case screen
3- Cases with missing person data from the 400,000 pushed cases

ACTION: Please share the information with the appropriate field staff

1. PW Flags randomly appearing or disappearing on the Select Enumerator screen
As a result of a MaRCS fix, the PW flag may have been working erratically. It has been reported that the PW flag on the Select Enumerator screen may have disappeared from the screen for already worked enumerators or may have appeared in cases for an enumerator the MaRCS clerk had never worked. This was a temporary issue and has been corrected. For those cases that this issue may have happened, please inform the AMQA they would need to remove the PW flag for the cases where the enumerator has not been worked in MaRCS OR asking the QA Clerk to click on the Edit pencil icon for the enumerator they have been working to reactivate the PW flag if it has disappeared.

2. Loss of notes in the LCO Notes panel in the Evaluate Case screen
As a result of the MaRCS performance issues that LCOs are experiencing, some screens are loading slowly. To avoid losing the notes entered in the Evaluate Case screen, the MaRCS clerk needs to wait until the page has fully loaded. A page is fully loaded when the “Please wait for page to respond” message disappears in MaRCS or when the Windows browser loading indicator (it shows as a progressive number of green squares) at the bottom of the browser also disappears. Please also remind the LCOs to enter the notes in the LCO Notes panel before assigning a final outcome on the case and to save these notes often so they are not lost if the MaRCS session times out.

3. Cases with missing person data from the 400,000 pushed cases
NPC noted that a portion of the 400,000 cases pushed for processing have blank person data in the original interview or the reinterview in cases where the unit status (US field in Review Data screen) shows occupied (OCC). Most if not all of these cases will be deferred to the LCOs due to different unit statuses between the original interview and reinterview. An example of this situation might be, the original interview has an unit status of occupied with 3 people living at the housing unit and the roster and demographic information is blank; and the reinterview shows that the housing unit is vacant (thus no roster or demographic information shown).

The MaRCS clerks should investigate these cases as any other case in LCO Review. For these cases, the MaRCS clerks should focus their investigation on the unit status of the housing unit, determining which one might be correct. When the MaRCS clerk determines the correct unit status, then they should turn their investigation on what might have caused the discrepancies in the data and assign an outcome code based on the investigation results.

07/15/2010

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT: MaRCS NRFU users account maintenance

ACTION: Delete unused MaRCS accounts by noon, Friday 7/16/2010

MaRCS is experiencing performance issues due to the exceeding the number of users accessing and using the system at the same time. Per our teleconference today, attached below are the tallies by LCO of MaRCS accounts issued to users in the LCO. Please review the number of users in each of the region’s LCOs and delete the accounts that are no longer needed.

IMPORTANT – MaRCS accounts should be used for coding MaRCS cases. Limit or eliminate MaRCS uses for purposes other than coding MaRCS cases. Staff assigned to work MaRCS cases are the only staff allowed to have a MaRCS accounts in the LCOs.

The AMT can delete the unused accounts in the LCO. The RMQA needs to work with the AMQA to identify and delete the MaRCS accounts that are no longer needed. For example, we have noticed multiple AMQA roles for a single LCO. It is preferable to only have 1 AMQA role per LCO, as this is the person that has the responsibility to Hard Fail a case. LCOs may have, in rare cases, more than 1 AMQA role if the AMQA has a backup or if there are other AMQAs working shifts.

The AMT instructions to delete users in MaRCS are in their AMT Manual D-650.1, lesson 6. The RMQA can also ask the LSC to run the D-1311M User Role Report to verify user roles and that unused accounts are deleted.

After the accounts are deleted, the MaRCS contractor will measure system performance and inform us if this resolved the issue. Until further notice, please inform the LCOs to use, at most, 4 accounts per LCO OR use accounts not to go over the number of LCOs times 4 per region, the allowed number of MaRCS users.

07/09/2010

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT: Start of the processing of 400,000 cases in MaRCS with data capture issues

ACTION: Please share the information with the appropriate field staff

As mentioned in the last RMQA teleconference, MaRCS held from processing about 400,000 cases that had a data capture problem. The data capture problem was in the population count where a scanning error, as an example, might have returned a population count of 74 when the actual count is 4. These cases were not processed because MaRCS was waiting for a continuation form where one was likely not needed.

MaRCS will start processing these forms starting on Monday, July 09, 2010 and should be finishing by the end of the week. These forms will likely be deferred to NPC from computer matching because the population counts will not match. It is expected that NPC will resolve the majority of these cases because as long as the roster and demographic information matches, the NPC clerks will pass the case.

It is not expected that the LCOs will get to code many of these cases. However, if they do get some of these cases, please remind the LCOs to ignore the population counts and, if the roster and demographic information matches, then pass the case. If the roster and demographic information does not match, then the MaRCS clerk needs to conduct an investigation on the case as any other case in LCO Review.

The other issue this should resolve are the cases that may be showing in the D-3421M Completion and Data Capture Report as not being data captured when there is information in PBOCS that the case was worked and shipped. It is expected that as these cases are processed, many cases showing in this report will be removed.

If you have any questions please contact Hector Merced or Vance Davis at 301-763-8822 or email fld.quality.assurance.branch@census.gov
07/02/2010

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT:

1. Hard Fail Recommendation screen reminders
2. Applicant ID capture error – new known issue and workaround
3. Handling cases where the Address panel information in the Review Case Data screen is outside the LCO or RCC boundaries
4. Reminder on handling duplicate D-1282Ms
5. Update on cases not showing in PBOCS when a D-1282M exists in MaRCS
6. MaRCS clerk observation forms for both UE and NRFU

ACTION: Please share the information with the appropriate field staff

1. Hard Fail Recommendation screen reminders
Some regions have informed us that Hard Fail cases are not showing in the D-831M Hard Fail Report after the AMQA assigns a hard fail code to a case. This is due to the AMQA not entering notes in a timely manner in this screen (MaRCS times out) or exiting the screen before clicking the Save button. Please remind the AMQAs to be prepared to enter the notes and the LCO managers’ decisions prior to coming to this screen. It is suggested the AMQA has the notes ready in a notepad so they can quickly be entered on the screen along with the AMFO/LCOM decisions. The notes for a hard failed enumerator should not be lengthy since all LCO managers are in agreement with the outcome.

Not entering and properly saving these notes in this screen has also affected the D-831M Hard Fail Report. This is a defect that the MaRCS contractor is fixing today. An updated report with these cases should be available early next week. Also, as a result of this defect, D-1282M Transcription Reports were not generated for these hard failed enumerators. The fix to the report will also correct this defect, so LCOs should expect next week D-1282Ms with the completed eligible cases for the hard failed enumerator that needs to be reinterviewed.

2. Applicant ID capture error – new known issue and workaround
There is another known issue where valid applicant IDs and names show in MaRCS cases but the enumerator showing in the case does not work in that LCO. The rest of the data displayed for the case will belong to the LCO and the only inaccurate data is the applicant ID and name of the enumerator in the case. This happens when the applicant ID was incorrectly captured at the data capture center and it happened to match a valid ID from another enumerator in another LCO. The MaRCS clerk needs to review this case as any other and assign a final outcome code based on the case investigation (PASS, SOFT FAIL, DK/NO SUSP, or DK/SUSP).

If the MaRCS clerk reviewing the case is recommending to hard fail the case and the LCO managers agree to hard fail the case, please DO NOT HARD FAIL THIS CASE . Doing this will cause the enumerator outside the LCO being flagged as a Hard Fail enumerator. Have the MaRCS clerk Soft Fail the case. Using the case ID, please look if the LCO can identify the enumerator that actually worked the case in the LCO (or the RMQA can send the case ID to QAB to get that information). Once the correct enumerator is identified for the reviewed case, the AMQA can then Non-RI Fail the enumerator. This will ensure the right enumerator is hard failed and the completed eligible cases for this enumerator are reinterviewed.

No action is required if the reinterviewer name and applicant ID displayed in MaRCS is outside the LCO boundaries. The Reinterview panel information in the Review Case Data screen will belong to the LCO.

3. Handling cases where the Address panel information in the Review Case Data screen is outside the LCO or RCC boundaries
Some regions have said that they have cases from other LCOs or are outside the RCC boundaries. This is a known issue that happens for added housing units during NRFU. This is another data capture issue where the LCO was incorrectly captured for the added housing unit. There is no viable solution to transfer these cases to the appropriate LCO. Please instruct the LCOs to PASS these cases and include in the Notes the reason for the pass is the case is outside the LCO/RCC boundaries.

4. Reminder on handling duplicate D-1282Ms
This is a reminder to the LCOs to ignore the D-1282Ms that are duplicates. There might instances where MaRCS created 2 or more D-1282Ms for the same case ID. Please inform the LCOs to reinterview only one of the cases and to ignore all other possible duplicated D-1282Ms.

5. Update on cases not showing in PBOCS when a D-1282M exists in MaRCS
We got confirmation that MaRCS has passed all information to PBOCS as of 6/29/2010. From now on, the sponsor division will monitor that PBOCS receives the data from MaRCS and will inform QAB when PBOCS did not acknowledge receiving the data. We will inform the regions when the MaRCS cases were not received in PBOCS and provide guidance when this happens.

Also, DOTS staff will send back to the LCOs the Remedy tickets created when the case exists in MaRCS and not in PBOCS. The LCOs will be asked to see if the information is in PBOCS, as we have been given confirmation the information from MaRCS was acknowledge in PBOCS as of 6/20/10.

Unless QAB sends information to the regions that PBOCS did not acknowledge the data, a case not appearing in PBOCS is a PBOCS issue and not a MaRCS issue. Please inform the LCOs to submit the Remedy tickets to PBOCS and not MaRCS.

6. MaRCS clerk observation forms for both UE and NRFU
We have been told that MaRCS observation forms have been sent to NPC along with the NRFU enumerator observation forms. Please ask the LCOs not to send to NPC the MaRCS Observation forms. QAB will soon issue a disposition ops log for these forms and all other forms used in the investigations.

If you have any questions please contact Hector Merced or Vance Davis at 301-763-8822 or email fld.quality.assurance.branch@census.gov
07/01/2010 – New ops log for July

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT: Clarification on 6/30/2010 ops log (Selecting additional cases for supplemental reinterview — Urgent Request)

ACTION: Please share the information with the appropriate field staff

Many of the regions have said that some of the cases for this special project cannot be sent to supplemental RI. The RMQAs need to check that the LCOs followed the following steps before sending the case IDs to the QAB branch as invalid case IDs. There are 4 possible reasons these cases cannot be sent to reinterview–the case has an invalid applicant ID, the case does not exist in MaRCS, the case has already been reinterviewed, or the case is ineligible for reinterview. All these scenarios are explained below.

The first step they need to do is check the case exists in MaRCS. This is done by clicking on the Case Search option at the top of the Welcome screen. The person selecting the supplemental case can then check if the case exists by entering the case ID in the Case ID box and ensuring the All Cases radio button is selected. If the case exists, please check that the Enumerator Name column has an enumerator name in it. If it does not, this is a case that has an invalid applicant ID and cannot be sent to RI. Please send these case IDs to the QAB branch. If the case search does not bring a case (the screen is blank for that case), then the case does not exist in MaRCS. Please send these case IDs to the QAB branch.

Also check in this screen if the case has already been sent to RI. The screen will show in the Outcome column the final outcome code assigned to the case. For this case, the RMQA needs to update the spreadsheet to record the results of this case. Please also send these case IDs to the QAB branch.

If the case exists, then the clerk selecting the supplemental cases need to be back at the Welcome screen to start the process of selecting the supplemental cases. At the Welcome screen, they need to click on Select RI Cases at the top (in the Menu bar). This will bring up the Select Supplemental RI Cases screen. The next step is to select the enumerator for the selected case. This is done by clicking on the drop down box labeled Select an Enumerator. It is likely that the first several entries on this drop down box are those cases with invalid IDs. Please ensure the clerk selecting the cases scrolls down the list until the enumerator name is found. When the enumerator name is found on the drop down box, click on it to bring up the cases for that enumerator. The clerk needs to scroll down the list until he/she finds the case. MaRCS will show a certain number of cases per screen, please ensure the clerks goes through all the screens with cases. This is done by clicking on the pagination links at the top right corner of the screen. Once the case/s are found, click on the Select column check box to send the case/s to supplemental RI. Please remind the LCOs not so select a precipitating case in the Enter Case Selection Details screen. The note the clerk can enter there can be “Special project.”

If after the clerk goes through all the screens looking for the case ID and the case is not included for the enumerator, the case then is ineligible for RI. Please send these case IDs to the QAB branch.

We do not know at this point if these cases will be replaced with other cases. We will let the regions know if we get replacement cases for these invalid case IDs.

If you have any questions please contact Hector Merced or Vance Davis at 301-763-8822 or email fld.quality.assurance.branch@census.gov

Here’s an update on 2010 Census employment stats…

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

There are still about 200,000 people working on 2010 Census operations:

Yesterday’s New York Times editorial is a farce and here’s why…

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Yesterday, the New York Times ran the following editorial:

The 2010 census, in its final stages, has apparently been a success — something not thought possible just a couple years ago, when unsteady management, political interference and other problems threatened to derail the effort. The count was salvaged only after last-minute scrambling and major new spending — and after new leaders were put in place by the Obama administration.

For a time, it seemed as if Congress would learn the lessons from the near disaster of 2010. In March, a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers introduced a bill to improve the census, mainly by giving the bureau director more power to run the agency without interference. In April, the Senate committee in charge of the census unanimously passed the bill. The bill has not gone anywhere since then.

Why does that matter, when the next count is a decade away? The best chance for passing a bill is now, when public awareness of the census is high. And the sooner reform is passed, the better, because census planning, done right, is a decade-long project.

The administration, which had to rescue the current census, should certainly know that. But it is the administration that appears to be standing in the way.

At a hearing this spring, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Senator Thomas Carper, Democrat of Delaware, said that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke had complained about a provision giving the director greater independence to communicate directly with the commerce secretary and Congress about problems with the census. He said Mr. Locke also objected to giving the director greater influence over the bureau’s budget.

Mr. Carper suggested that independence to communicate was nonnegotiable, but a compromise on the budget could be found. There is no sign of progress.

In the next few weeks, Mr. Carper’s staff will issue a report on the bill to help other senators as they consider the legislation. The bill is a brief 11 pages and it is uncontested, at least on Capitol Hill. How much help do the other senators really need?

Mr. Carper should speed up the report. If the administration still has problems with the bill, it should make them public and allow the process to move forward openly. Basic reform of the census is needed, and the time to make those changes is slipping away.

MyTwoCensus analysis:

The first part of this editorial labels the 2010 Census a “success” but never states why it is considered as such. Perhaps this is based on the cursory observation of the participation/response rates that were similar to those of 2000. This may be a “success” when taking a quick glance at figures, but let us remember that the Census Bureau’s budget for 2010 was infinitely larger than it was in 2000. (And it took home an extra $1 billion in funding from the stimulus package.)

The second half of this disjointed editorial has a bit of validity, though it isn’t articulated well. Yes, it would be better for America for the Census Bureau Director to have a fixed term that ends in a year that is in between Presidential election years. But Gary Locke has legitimate concerns, and those must be addressed before rushing a bill through committee. The same Senate that can’t pass Climate legislation that’s been on the table forever shouldn’t be expected to jump on legislation related to the 2020 Census.

And here’s a little caveat/prediction for the New York Times: When the mainstream media learns just how much of a mess the 2010 Census was in some parts of the country, and in particular New York (where a dense concentration of media moguls and reporters utterly failed to cover the giant mess that is the New York regional census office) they will be begging for re-enumerations, recounts, and heads to be put on the chopping block. MyTwoCensus.com will elaborate more on this information in the coming days and weeks.

Note: An earlier version of this post questioned why President Obama hadn’t signed a bill seeking to reform the GOP’s “census” mailers. I referred to a blog post that I wrote on May 18, 2010. I subsequently learned from comments on this post that President Obama signed the bill on May 24. I was never made aware of this action by President Obama until today and I apologize for the confusion. Those people who refer to a bill from April should know that the GOP found a loophole in this legislation and continued to issue deceptive mailers. Furthermore, the comment about President Obama was just an aside from a post that focuses on many other important matters which I hope are not overshadowed by my simple error.

Will Microsoft rescue Florida’s census count?

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Most likely this effort is a “too little too late” scenario, but be sure to check out how Microsoft is trying to assist in enumeration efforts in Florida.

One theory is that Florida may use Micrsoft-gathered data down the road to demand a re-count or re-enumeration. A Census Bureau insider tells me the following about this topic:

1. It’s advertising.

2. To its credit, Census is less invested in Microsoft products than it could be. So Microsoft has less to lose by alienating the Census Bureau.
IBM and Oracle have BIG contracts with the Census Bureau; they probably wanted nothing to  do with Florida’s software development project.

3. FL residents deserve an apathy prize for the lack of participation in My Florida Census.

4. Do not rule out the possibility of a hidden, evil social engineering agenda on Microsoft’s part.

5. Apple revenues outpaced Microsoft’s last quarter; Microsoft is fading.

6. The failed handheld computer ran a Windows Mobile operating system. May have contributed to development problems and subsequent failure.

7. Very interesting report: “During the redistricting process in 2001, the Florida House of Representatives learned that certain areas seemed to have more voters than the 2000 census had recorded for the voting-age population. That discovery led the House to conclude that Florida’s population had been undercounted during the 2000 census.”

8. “An accurate aerial image…” Too bad the Census Bureau did not think of making better use of aerial images for the Address Canvassing operation.

9. “By using Bing Maps, the application presents highly accurate images of streets and addresses, which are often more accurate than census roads.”
Just horrible that the private sector claims their geodata is better than the Census Bureau’s.  Why hasn’t Groves massacred some Census Bureau managers for this? How much of the blame does Harris deserve for their sizable role in 2010 Census geography? Why hasn’t the Census Bureau’s management addressed this amazing claim?

And perhaps most importantly…

10. What does the State of Florida know about the Census 2000 Hialeah recount that we don’t?

Field Verification: Your comments please

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

As a reader noted to me, the Vacant/Delete thread is morphing into the Field Verification thread. Let’s start a new thread here to specifically focus on Field Verification thoughts, complaints, etc.

Enjoy the weekend!

The latest update on the Brooklyn 2010 Census falsification scandal (Price Tag: $250K)

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

MyTwoCensus has been informed that Census Bureau employees have been lifting information off the Internet and falsifying forms at locations throughout the country. Whistleblowers should not hesitate to contact MyTwoCensus.com immediately. Your confidentiality will be 100% maintained.

On Monday, July 19, 2010, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing entitled, “Is Brooklyn Being Counted? – Problems With the 2010 Census” to examine a recent incident involving two senior managers at the Brooklyn North East Local Census Office who were fired for fraudulently completing census surveys.  The hearing examined the steps the Census Bureau is taking to ensure the accuracy of the 2010 count. The New York State Congressional Delegation has been invited to participate in the hearing.

The hearing was held on Monday, July 19, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in the courtroom of Brooklyn Borough Hall, located at 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY.

The witnesses who testified were:

Dr. Robert M. Groves
Director
U.S. Census Bureau

Mr. Todd J. Zinser
Inspector General
U.S. Department of Commerce

Mr. Lester A. Farthing
Regional Director
U.S. Census Bureau NY Regional Census Center

Opening Statement of Chairman Edolphus Towns

Opening Statement of Subcommittee Chairman Wm. Lacy Clay

Opening Statement of Rep. Yvette Clarke

Prepared testimony of Dr. Robert Groves

Prepared testimony of Mr. Todd Zinser

According to the New York Daily News:

The bungling was first uncovered last month when two census managers were discovered faking surveys by lifting information off the Internet.

Brooklyn Northeast census manager Alvin Aviles and assistant Sonya Merritt were axed – and 4,200 questionnaires had to be redone.

Redoing the phony forms – which is almost complete – will cost taxpayers $250,000, Groves revealed.

To make matters worse, a whistleblower recently alerted officials that some of the new surveys also were fudged by workers who took their best guess when no one answered the door.

The workers estimated the number of people living in a home based on information such as names on mailboxes, Groves said at the hearing.

“This … is a clear violation of procedures,” he said.

Groves said the second snafu affected a few hundred households. He blamed the mistake on confused workers who misunderstood instructions.

The bureau is investigating whether information was faked in any other offices in Brooklyn or around the country.

He promised the bureau will come up with an accurate count and said that the recount of all 4,200 surveys will be done in a few days.

“I want to say how troubled I am that this occurred,” Groves said. “This activity violates all the principles for which the Census Bureau stands. It is an abhorrent act.”

According to Gothamist:

Census Recounters Messed Up Recount, Re-recount Planned

Those Brooklyn Census workers really don’t want to lose their jobs. After being instructed to redo more than 4,000 falsified Census forms, workers at the Brooklyn Northeast Census office botched the corrections and must complete the forms a third time.

One office worker recently alerted officials that some workers were fudging answers when people wouldn’t answer their doors—exactly what managers Alvin Aviles and Sonya Merritt did to get themselves fired and start this whole mess in the first place. The best part is the whole $250,000 SNAFU could probably have been avoided, since Census workers are allowed to leave questions blank if they cannot obtain the information by either first person or “proxy” interviews.

At a hearing yesterday regarding the first set of faked forms, Congressman Ed Towns said, “I represent a district that is comprised of a number of so-called ‘hard to count’ communities…These communities present challenges to the Census Bureau, but these challenges must be met.” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves says the second round of mistakes were caused by confused workers who misunderstood instructions, and that it should be worked out shortly. Still, he said, “I want to say how troubled I am that this occurred. This activity violates all the principles for which the Census Bureau stands. It is an abhorrent act.”

Census Director Groves is king of the world (of advertising)

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Dr. Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, delivers the opening salvo at The Advertising Research Foundation AM5.0 – AUDIENCE MEASUREMENT EARTHQUAKE. There is no singular event with greater influence on the next ten years of audience measurement and marketing than the 2010 Census. Groves presents the ultimate “insider” preview of the much-anticipated 2010 Census report to be released next year.

MyTwoCensus.com hopes to learn how much $ Dr. Groves raked in for this keynote address…

Stay tuned for Dr. Groves’ exit from the federal government followed by his immediate decision to join a Fortune 500 company as the director of Market Research…

Concern Growing in Canada Over Recent Census Decision

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

This article is worth reading because it does an excellent job of discussing the wide reaching impact of Census data (even if it is Canadian Census data):

The census can look dull or irrelevant to the average citizen, a twice-a-decade event that only policy wonks, academics and journalists really care about.

But like the foundation of a building, census data are largely invisible but crucially important, affecting the lives of any citizen who has a child, drives a car, goes to school, moves here from another country, retires, works — or loses their job — shops, gets sick, wants to live in a safe neighbourhood, needs a helping hand from a charity or wants to know the money they donate will be put to good use.

“It really does touch your life, but not until you need it or you see it do you realize it,” says Doug Norris, director general of social and demographic statistics at Statistics Canada until 2005 and now chief demographer and senior vice-president with Environics Analytics.

Since the Conservatives announced three weeks ago they’re scrapping Canada’s long-form census in 2011 and replacing it with a voluntary survey — a move they say was prompted by privacy complaints — opposition has been mounting steadily. The short-form census remains mandatory. An array of experts and organizations have panned the decision, insisting it will destroy the statistical backbone of municipalities, social programs, community organizations and private businesses that touch nearly every aspect of the lives of ordinary Canadians……

Municipalities use information gleaned from long-form questions on how people get to work and where they work to plan bridges, roads and public transportation projects and budgets, says Derek Cook, research social planner with the City of Calgary.

“We may never again get neighbourhood level statistical data and what the hell are we going to do if we don’t have neighbourhood data? How are we going to plan?” he says. “It’s like taking a carpenter’s hammer away and asking him to go continue to build the house.”

Like Cook, Brent Toderian, director of city planning for Vancouver, said census data so fundamentally underlie everything a city plans for its residents that he struggles to pinpoint a single instance.

“It’s literally the starting point of all of our work, so pick a project,” he says, mentioning school boards, new transit lines and aging neighborhoods as a handful of examples. “The tendrils of this work go all the way through every city in the country.”

Census, employment rate wind down

Friday, July 16th, 2010

I’m seeing several reports of the unemployment rate being affected by the end of census jobs. Georgia’s The Augusta Chronicle, Tampa’s ABC Action News, and San Diego’s North County Times all have similar stories. It’s all part of the process, baby. Here’s an excellent piece by Darcy Courteau over at The Atlantic that reflects on the end of these census jobs:

The Divine Impermanence of Being a Census Worker

Day two of our Census Bureau training, fingerprinted and cleared, it was time to briefly introduce ourselves and tell the group why we were here. I was first. I reached for the only shred of experience I’d had with the Census Bureau. Ten years ago I was living in a shack on my grandparents’ Ozark property — a place so overgrown I usually missed the turnoff — when a man from the Census showed up. I held up my hands, shaking them, to show how he’d trembled in terror when he stepped from his car. The day before, down another remote road, an anti-government militia with AK-47s had ambushed him. “So,” I finished, “since then I’ve had a burning passion for the Census adventure.”

Our instructor turned to the guy next to me, who stood, said “paycheck,” and sat back down. “I think it’s safe to say that’s why we’re all here,” the instructor muttered. Everyone agreed, aside from a couple of defiant middle-aged women who declared that they were here to get to know the community.

We were re-interviewers, our mission to spot-check data the first waves of Census enumerators had scared up. Training wasn’t much more interactive than listening to verbatim readings from two manuals that our instructor shook at us, a demoralized Moses with perfect bound books full of commandments, though there was only one that really mattered: no overtime, never, DO NOT CLAIM OVERTIME. Our black and white shoulder bags we packed as a group. A team leader asked us to note our reclose-able plastic baggies of pencils, and, leaving nothing to chance, instructed us not to empty the contents into our shoulder bags, as loose pencils would roll around the bottom of a bag.

I’ve been in the field since, long enough to absorb a few more useful bits of knowledge. Newly arrived in Washington, I’ve learned that those women in training were on to something. It might seem obvious, but a great way to get the lay of the land city is to drive its back streets, stopping at homes of strangers to ask if they consider themselves to be male or female, what races they’d like to claim, if they’ve lived somewhere else during the year including jail, prison, or a nursing home, and–when you’re wrapping things up–whether there are any babies in the house they’ve forgotten to mention.

My small crew meets each morning at 8:15 at a McDonald’s where we turn in completed cases — those for which we’ve finally buttonholed a householder — to the crew leader, a trained actor who fields our queries with Old Hollywood gravitas; only when he’s found another ding in his Civic does he break character, falling into unactorly grousing. We swap stories over a syrup-gummed four-top: no militias yet, but we have had our share of doozies. The man who left me a perfectly printed note atop the Notice of Visit I had slipped under his door — hours before being arrested and jailed, I learned from neighbors — was more gracious than another woman who screamed that her boyfriend was going to take care of me, a threat issued straight from the nose as her eyes stared in opposite directions like a hammerhead shark’s. One of my colleague’s occupants told her to go away and then waited her out behind his door. But she’s a 61-year-old bewigged karate brown belt who moonlights as a security guard, and has a few tricks of her own. She had worn jeans on her first visit to his house, but surveying the upscale neighborhood, decided to adjust her look for the next. Gussied up in a church dress and fresh wig, she returned. The man opened the door and greeted her like a friend, tut-tutting about the grubby girl who’d come the night before. He wouldn’t let that one in.

We might seem like an odd bunch, with our dented fleet of emissions-test-failing cars, but for now, we’re the demographers who are mapping the country’s human geography. Not for long, though. Another great lesson of the summer is on the Divine Impermanence of being a Census worker. In May there were nearly 600,000 of us earning paychecks across the United States — a number large enough to ratchet down the unemployment rate by 0.2 percent. But even now our numbers are eroding: in weeks only a few thousand enumerators will be left to follow up on fewer than 20 million residences of the original 130,000,000. Come September, the last door will have been knocked upon. The Census website provides a page for former employees back in the job market that lists our various job titles along with bulleted duties and the stern directive to “copy and paste only the information describing tasks you actually performed into your resume.”

The past weeks have also revealed the Impermanence of most Washingtonians, who seem never to be home and indeed to have a Buddha-like detachment from sleep, food preparation, and other people. For upwardly mobile whites living on Capitol Hill, the mark of achievement appears to be living alone, regardless of how isolated and ill-lit the apartment. The farther I go from downtown, however, the more intricate become the household counts. At the city’s edge one morning, a very young woman answered her door in cartoon-printed pajamas and a headscarf. Too shy and sleepy to refuse, she sat on the porch and answered my questions. Her boyfriend’s grandmother owned the house and lived there with several relatives, including the boyfriend. Realizing that the girl was not only the youngest in the household but the only one not related by blood, I asked if this was where she lived and slept most of the time, Census-speak for permanent address. She glanced at the front door. “I ain’t going nowhere.” The way she said it, I swear she was staking a claim.