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.

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Denver Colorado sees THOUSANDS of dollars worth of 2010 Census swag unused — including canvas bags

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

My suspicions about waste and leftover swag enabling scammers to do their jobs more easily is proven true yet again. Thanks to Colorado NBC affiliate 9News.com, and specifically investigative reporter Jace Larson for the following. Let’s hope that he follows up on this like he said he will at the bottom of the article:

DENVER – The U.S. Census Bureau spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on promotional items used to convince more people to mail back their census forms, but a 9Wants to Know investigation found thousands of the items were dropped off, unused, at a local high school.

The leftover items, such as backpacks, cloth grocery bags, hats, pins, magnets and business card holders, were dropped off at Lakewood High School last month.

“We probably had, between the backpack style [bags] and the shopping bag style [bags], over 1,000 dropped off,” Lakewood High School Principal Ron Castagna told 9Wants to Know.

He estimates more than 1,000 posters printed in different languages were also dropped off at the school.

An unknown Census worker walked into the school in mid-April and asked the principal if she could leave the items. She did not ask the school to distribute them.

“[She] said, ‘We have extra stuff. We’re wrapping up the Census and we just want to distribute the materials,’” Castagna said.

It did not sit well with him.

“Wait a minute, times are tough and I’m sitting in a position where we’ve got a school district that’s done everything the right way and yet we’re still going to face budget cuts,” he said.

Among the many boxes of posters the Census worker left at the school, were more than 300 promotional posters printed in Farsi. Farsi is the language spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.

9Wants to Know reviewed the U.S. Census Bureau’s numbers from 2000 and found 360 people spoke Farsi in all of Jefferson County at that time.

Castagna says he hopes to let students use the backs of the posters in art classes.

“How much money was spent on items like this that could have been spent someplace else?” Castagna asked.

9Wants to Know broke down Census spending. The U.S. Census Bureau spent $4,899,348 on promotion for 10 states in the Denver region.

U.S. Census Bureau spokeswoman Lauren Shaw says nationally local offices used an average of 98.7 percent of the promotional items ordered. Leftover items account for 1.3 percent of all materials ordered, according to Shaw.

Shaw also says she believed the materials dropped off at Lakewood High School represent unused materials for 10 states that are part of the Denver region, not just one county or one state.

Denver Region Census spokesman Doug Wayland says the spending was worth it.

“Visual items raise awareness about the Census,” Wayland said.

He says promotional materials actually save taxpayers money even if there are extra items left over. He points to national figures to prove his point.

Promotion and advertising nationwide cost $370 million this year. The U.S. Census Bureau says a 2000 advertising and promotional campaign helped boost mail-back participation by about 5 percent. If that happens again this year, the campaign could save taxpayers $425 million. That is because for each percentage increase in the mail-in participation rate, the Census Bureau says taxpayers save $85 million.

When residents mail back the census form, it costs the government 42 cents for postage. When people do not mail it back, a Census worker must go to the home and that costs $57 per house.

Wayland says proof that advertising and promotional campaigns work is in the numbers. The percentage of people who mailed in census forms had declined from 1970 to 1990. In 2000, the first year of an advertising and promotional campaign, the percentage of people who mailed in their census forms increased.

“We reversed three decades of people not sending back their questionnaires,” Wayland said. “Instead of those people not mailing back their questionnaires, they are motivated to mail it back based on those reinforced messages.”

“There’s a term I like to use called image transfer. You see national advertisements on posters and you see the message. Then when you see an item with the Census logo at home there is a transfer of the message that was on TV or on a billboard. Repetition reinforces the message that the Census is important,” Wayland said.

A member of a Colorado policy watchdog group says because the costs of going door-to-door, using promotional materials makes sense.

“They are covering the country in as many ways as possible, through schools, through promotional materials, advertisements on TV through door to door canvassers. They are really making sure every person is counted. That is really important,” Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute Fiscal Project Coordinator Kathy White said.

The Census Bureau says the census is vitally important to funding for local communities in addition to helping Congress decide how many representatives communities, counties and states will have in government bodies.

Nonprofit organizations use census numbers to estimate the number of potential volunteers in communities across the nation.

When Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida in 1992, census information aided the rescue effort by providing estimates of the number of people in each block, the Census Bureau says on its website.

It also says that census numbers were used to support a request for a new community center in New England. Senior citizens successfully lobbied for a new center before county commissioners, according to the Census Bureau.

The U.S. Census has faced criticism before.

Many Americans were unhappy that the Census sent three letters to households reminding people to fill out the form.

Shaw says that is less expensive than sending a Census worker to homes that would not have otherwise filled out the form.

Also, a government audit alleged in February that the Census Bureau paid employees who never actually worked and paid others who overbilled for travel expenses.

Several 9NEWS viewers question why some of the promotional materials say “Made in China.”

Shaw told 9Wants to Know that the U.S. Census Bureau contracted with American businesses for the materials. She says American businesses chose to use items made overseas, but printed the logos on the bags in the United States. She says the majority of other items were made in the United States.

Belated Earth Day Special: The Census Bureau Waste Continues (with hard evidence attached)

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Last week, I planned to publish this piece, but the data from a New York area census office didn’t come in until yesterday…Check it out:

Here’s the hard evidence:

10-02 DISPOSITION OF 2010 GQAV MATERIALS (1)

10-10 DISPOSITION OF 2010 QAC MATERIALS

It seems like the Census didn’t know April 22nd was Earth Day. In honor of it the printers ran non stop from morning to midnight in 494 offices across the nation printing out all the address listing pages and assignment preparation for Non Response Followup.

Cost to print NRFU Address Listing Pages of every housing unit in the United States single sided and then ship it to the National Processing Center Fed Ex Priority Overnight

Cost to print out hundreds upon thousands of maps single sided only to not even be looked at

Cost to print all the training materials on high quality printer quality paper

Cost to print all the glossy recruiting brochures, partnership posters only for them to be unopened and thrown out by the palette like this everyday (see pictures below)

–  Some food for thought. These boxes are filled with 500 brochures a piece and has been happening everyday for months and in all 494 offices everyday –

Cost to print all the Be Counted Questionnaires which were all taken back from the Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Centers to be thrown away even though New York City wanted to extend the program by 30 days and some to count the estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants.(see attached disposal list)

Cost to print all the GQV Questionnaires which we still have two palettes left. (see attached disposal list) And that is just one of the forms on the attached list to throw out…Here we go:

10-02 DISPOSITION OF 2010 GQAV MATERIALS (1)

10-10 DISPOSITION OF 2010 QAC MATERIALS

Photos of materials on their way to be destroyed/recycled:



Michael Steele and the GOP – Are you kidding me? Republicans continue ‘census mailings’ despite law

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Michael Steele and the national GOP are a bunch of ignorant individuals who are completely out of touch with their party’s mainstream. Even after Congress showed strong bipartisan support for a measure to ban deceptive census mailings (now a law signed by President Obama), these idiots continue to act illegally — and they are openly defending their actions. They should be prosecuted. Eric Holder and the Justice Department, I hope you’re reading this. H/t to Ed O’Keefe for the following…and I hope that Jon Stewart creates a segment mocking this BS on The Daily Show in the near future:

The Republican National Committee believes that a new round of mailings which use the word “Census” does not violate a new law banning such deliveries.

Democrats and news organizations in Nebraska, Utah and Washington state have called out the new Republican mailings as illegal and detrimental to 2010 Census efforts.

The mailings appear to violate a law signed by President Obama on April 7 that passed with bipartisan support in both chambers. The law requires mailings with an envelope marked “Census” to state clearly the sender’s return address and provide a disclaimer that the mailing is not from the federal government.

But the RNC will keep sending such mailings regardless of the new law, according to committee spokesman Doug Heye.

“In reviewing the new law, our legal department determined such mailings are not covered. Therefore, they will continue,” Heye said in an e-mail. He would not elaborate on the legal determination.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who authored the bill, sounded incensed.

“What is with these guys?” she said in a statement. “Congress passes a law in record time, with unanimous bipartisan support in both houses, to reduce confusion about the real Census. But there they go again, trying to make a partisan buck on the Census!”

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has been asked by Nebraska Democrats to weigh in on the matter. Under the old law, postal inspectors deemed such mailings legal.

Three Reasons Why New York City May Be Undercounted…

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The following tidbit comes to us from Kelly Virella of CityLimits.org:

Off-the-Books Housing
Nearly 40 percent of the new housing created in NYC from 1990 to 2005 years is illegal, much of it in residential basements and attics. The Census Bureau found a lot of those residents—if not most of them—and sent them the forms, but many families probably never received them. “There are many households where the landlord sorts the mail,” says Stacey Cumberbatch, the city’s 2010 Census coordinator. “If I get a form for my illegal tenants, I may not give it to them, wondering how anyone knows they live in the basement.”

Off-the-Books Tenants
Some of New York’s public housing residents and voucher holders don’t want the New York City Housing Authority to know that a cousin, friend or partner lives with them, because telling the truth would jeopardize their leases or vouchers. They fear—despite NYCHA assurances to the contrary—that reporting their household headcount will create a paper trail leading to their eviction. “We need to get the message out that it’s safe to participate in this activity,” says Tony Farthing, director of the Census Bureau’s New York Regional Office. “No one will take your apartment away from you.”

Off-the-Books Work
An estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants live in New York City, and fear—despite the Census Bureau’s denials—their participation in the census will lead to their deportation.

Is recently convicted felon/hip-hop artist Chris Brown an ideal 2010 Census spokesman?

Monday, April 19th, 2010

At first glance, it sounds like someone who beat up his pop-star girlfriend (Rihanna) wouldn’t be the best PR spokesman for the Census Bureau, but maybe I’m out of touch with who America’s youth views as role models these days. Does anyone else out there find it disturbing that hip-hop artist Chris Brown is out there promoting the 2010 Census? In 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault of singer Rihanna and was sentenced to five years probation and six months of community service:

New York City Council Wants 2010 Census Extension

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Will this be another effort of New York City Mayor Michael “Third Term” Bloomberg trying to avoid regulations and change them to meet his favor?

From Blackstarnews.com:

On Monday, April 19 at 10 AM in Council Chambers, the Committees on Community Development, Governmental Operations and Civil Rights will hold a joint hearing on NYC’s Census 2010 efforts and a resolution sponsored by Council Members Vann and Brewer. The resolution calls upon the U.S. Census Bureau to extend and/or reopen its April 15 deadline for accepting “mail-in” census forms and to keep both its Questionnaire Assistance Centers and Be Counted Sites open for an additional 30 days.

In New York City, only 56 percent of households have returned their census form to date. New York City has a uniquely hard-to-count population because of its large immigrant population, diversity in housing and areas of concentrated poverty. Brooklyn is performing the worst of the city’s boroughs with a response rate of only 51 percent.

There have been several reports of households receiving multiple census forms, receiving the form late or receiving no form at all.

2010 Census spoofed on SNL

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Anyone catch the most recent edition of Saturday Night Live? Well, Christopher Walken and Tim Meadows no longer the sole proprietors of SNL census sketches. Check it out here:

Decimated Tribe Seeks Recognition Through 2010 Census

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

A great feature and 2010 Census feel-good story from Lidia Crafts of Voice of America News:

A people thought to be dead for 500 years hope to prove they’re still very much alive, thanks to the 2010 census.

The census counts everyone in the United States, including territories like Puerto Rico. Thousands of Puerto Ricans are rediscovering their indigenous heritage and plan to ensure that the U.S. government knows about them.

On a blustery day at the Texas state capital building in Austin, members of the Taino tribe rally to raise awareness about the 2010 U.S. census. Dr. Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard leads the group in song. She’s the tribe’s tequina suania, meaning she directs and teaches ceremonial dances to Tainos in the United States.

The Tainos greeted Columbus when he arrived on what is now the island of Hispanola.

Decimated tribe

She explains that the Tainos greeted Christopher Columbus when he landed in the New World in 1492, but the Spanish conquistadors who followed him decimated the tribe. Some Tainos managed to survive by fleeing to the mountains. But in the 1800s, Spain stopped counting indigenous people in the census of its colonies.

Tekina-eirú Maynard says that stripped thousands of full-blooded Tainos of their identity. “If you happened to be a Taino who lived up in the mountains and you weren’t in the sun a lot and maybe your skin was a little lighter, then they threw you in the ‘white’ bucket.”

Today, most history books say the Tainos were wiped out 50 years after the Spanish explorers arrived. After hundreds of years of mainstream thought that taught them the Tainos were dead, many Puerto Ricans forgot about their native ancestry.

Tainos like Tekina-eirú Maynard see the 2010 U.S. census as their chance to finally prove the history books are wrong.

“We are survivors,” she says. “We are part of the people who went into the mountains to survive when the conquistadores were massacring our people.”

Ana Maria Tekina-Eiru Maynard

Some Puerto Ricans plan to identify themselves as ‘Tainos’ in the 2010 US Census.

DNA link to the past

In 2000, a study funded by the National Science Foundation revealed that more than 60 percent of Puerto Ricans have Taino blood.

The chief, or Cacike, of the Tainos in Puerto Rico, said that study awakened a Taino consciousness in the Puerto Rican people. “The results showed that in every Puerto Rican, Taino blood runs in our veins.”

Following the study, Puerto Ricans from across the island and many living on the mainland had their DNA tested by submitting samples of their saliva. Many began to identify themselves as Taino, and they started working to restore their traditions by studying the stories passed down by their grandparents.

The Cacike’s wish now is for all Puerto Ricans to regain pride in their native heritage.

“Our history was written with Taino blood. The conquest cost the lives of three million people. Our beliefs were taken from us, and beliefs were imposed upon us at the point of sword and cannon. Today we are free,” he says. “We believe as our ancestors believed. And we know our spirituality is genuine. It’s true, like the light of the sun. It’s so true it’s like the wind. You cannot see it, but you can feel it.”

Seeking official recognition

Although thousands of people now identify as Taino, the tribe has yet to receive official government recognition or the federal benefits that accompany it. So Tekina-eirú Maynard was excited to learn about questions added to the 2010 census that will allow them to declare their indigenous heritage on paper.

Rene Renteria

Mario Garza speaks about the census at a pow-wow in Texas.

That is what Maria Rocha and Dr. Mario Garza are urging Latinos to do. The couple runs the Indigenous Cultures Institute, a Texas-based nonprofit that works to preserve native traditions.

Garza explains that on previous census forms, Latinos could only claim their race as ‘white’ or ‘non-white’. “We’re trying to educate these people that even if they identify as Hispanic, they still come from a very rich heritage and cultural background which is their indigenous part.”

The Indigenous Cultures Institute has been sponsoring pow-wows around Texas to urge Hispanics with Taino heritage to complete the 10 questions on the 2010 census form.

Rocha and Garza tell members of their audience they can still recognize their Latin American heritage on question 8, which addresses ethnicity. Question 9 is the one that asks about race. Rocha and Garza tell Latinos to check their race as ‘American Indian’ and to write in their tribal affiliation in the space provided. That’s where Puerto Ricans can identify themselves as ‘Tainos.’

Rocha says her group’s census campaign has also resonated with Latinos of other indigenous backgrounds across the U.S.

“People have a need to be out there and do something important for their ancestors,” she observes, “not just register with the government or tick off themselves as a number. This has some significance to our people.”

Ana Maria Tekina-Eiru Maynard

Ana Maria Tekina-Eiru Maynard participates in a ceremony in Puerto Rico.

Putting a people back into the history books

When Dr. Ana Maria Tekina-eirú Maynard learned how she could identify herself as Taino on the census, she sent an email explaining the process to 5,000 members of her tribe.

“There will be thousands of Tainos who will check the box and write the word Taino,” she says. “And I can’t wait until the census is done and all of this happens.”

At the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Austin, she and her family practice aretos, or songs for ceremonial dances. Tekina-eirú Maynard wrote the songs and believes they were inspired by her ancestors. “I would sit on my back porch and these songs would just sort of come to me,” she says.

Proud heritage

Her 13-year-old son, William plays a traditional drum that Tainos from Puerto Rico made for him.

He says playing the aretos brings him closer to his indigenous heritage. “This is a very native, very pure thing, which, especially for me, I have a connection to this. It’s really like you can feel it in your heart.”

Tekina-eirú Maynard says the best thing about reconnecting with her Taino ancestry is that she can finally help her family understand their origins.

“I feel like I am putting my family back on track. After 500 years — that they had gone to the mountains to hide and hid so well that they forgot who they were — I feel that I have a chance now to put my family back to where they belong. And you have no idea how meaningful that is to me.”

That’s why Dr. Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard says she will continue raising the voice of the people until every history book says the Tainos are still here.

Feud over counting homeless escalates: Census employee fired after taking worries to Rep. Doggett

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

The following comes from Statesman.com:

By Andrea Ball and Suzannah Gonzales

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett has stepped into a dispute between Travis County officials and U.S. census leaders over how the area’s homeless population will be counted for the 2010 census.

For weeks, the groups have been sparring over the times, methods and manpower needed to tally the area’s estimated 4,000 people living in shelters, camps, cars and hotels. But that conflict escalated this week when a census employee called Doggett to say she had been fired for raising concerns about the safety and accuracy of the count.

On Friday, Doggett called U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves in Washington.

“Director Groves promised me he would investigate both the employee’s firing and review the best practices to accurately count the homeless,” Doggett said in a statement Friday.

Census officials across the country plan to count the homeless on three days: On Monday, workers will tally people in shelters. On Tuesday, they’ll count people at mobile food kitchens. And early Wednesday, they’ll head outside to camps and public places such as bridges and sidewalks.

It’s the Wednesday effort that has caused the most friction locally.

That count is planned for midnight to 7 a.m., a time local homeless advocates deem unsafe for census employees. Critics also say the census is not providing enough people or allowing enough time to ensure an accurate count.

“To count thousands of people over seven hours is unrealistic,” said Travis County Constable Bruce Elfant, a member of the Austin-Travis County Complete Count Committee. “This isn’t like going door to door.”

A faulty count would mean losing out on millions of dollars in federal money.

On Friday, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell sent a letter to a regional census official detailing their concerns about counting the homeless.

“Your own Census staffers estimate that the homeless population could be undercounted by as much as 40%,” the letter states. “This would mean 1,000 or more homeless residents would not be counted in Travis County, resulting in the loss of more than $15,000,000 to our community.”

Jeff Behler, deputy regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau, said the late-night hours were determined “because, in the research that was done by our staff, it was determined that would be the best time in which that population would be the least transient.”

Local leaders proposed holding an additional daytime event Thursday at the Palmer Events Center with food, music and giveaways for those who came to fill out the census forms. Census leaders said no, Elfant said.

“There appears to be very little wiggle room for communities that want to try innovative things,” Elfant said. “It’s been frustrating.”

Homeless advocates also worry that census takers could get hurt wandering into the greenbelts and wooded areas that late at night. David Gomez, who works with the homeless for Austin Travis County Integral Care, said homeless people could be sleeping, drunk, high on drugs or otherwise impaired.

In a memo obtained by the American-Statesman, U.S. Census Bureau employee Lisa Bayliff agreed.

“There are camps that have barbed wire stretched about 3-4 inches from the ground to trip intruders from easy access,” she wrote. “There are camps that are known meth labs; they have signs posted around the perimeter to warn people to go away … The timing of the operation is flawed and is willingly placing all Census employees at peril.”

Census takers, who will be wearing reflective vests and carrying flashlights, have been told not to wake up sleeping people, Behler said. They will travel in groups, try not to startle people and clearly communicate their intent, Behler said.

Earlier this month, Bayliff took her concerns to the Austin congressman, Doggett spokeswoman Sarah Dohl said.

But this week, Bayliff contacted the office to say she had been fired for speaking to Doggett, Dohl said. That prompted Doggett to call Grove.

Bayliff declined to comment. Jenna Steormann Arnold, spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau in Central Texas, said she could not talk about specifics of the case.

“Yes, she no longer works for the Census Bureau, but since it is a personnel issue that deals with confidential information, we cannot discuss it,” she said.

Press Release: Lockheed Martin Team Prepared for Peak U.S. Census Data Capture Production

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Here’s a press release update from our friends at Lockheed Martin:

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 1, /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —  With the U.S. Census now underway, Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE: LMT) Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) team is receiving up to 12 million census forms daily, processing as many as 2.5 million forms every 24 hours and answering more than 56,000 telephone inquiries per hour during peak production expected between the end of March and April 2010.

The DRIS contract was awarded in September 2005 to the Lockheed Martin team, which includes major partners and a large small business component. The DRIS team is responsible for the people, process, technology and infrastructure needed to receive, capture and standardize data from potentially more than 300 million U.S. residents as well as provide telephone assistance to support data capture efforts.

The Lockheed Martin-lead team hired and trained more than 13,000 temporary personnel, conducted intense testing and dress rehearsals and primed itself for one of the largest and most sophisticated data capture jobs in the country.

“Based on our experience with the 2000 Census, we partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau and the nation’s top companies to develop a solution that embraces information technology and automation to accurately, efficiently, securely and quickly count the nation’s growing and changing population,” said Julie Dunlap, director of Lockheed Martin’s Census Practice and program manager for the 2010 Census DRIS. “During exhaustive planning and testing, the system and associated employees and processes performed flawlessly and fully confirm the team’s readiness,” added Dunlap.

Three data capture centers support this massive effort to process all Census forms within a 6-month period. Centers in Baltimore, Md., managed by CSC, and Phoenix, Ariz. managed by Vangent, Inc., are bigger than four football fields put together. The third center is located at the Census Bureau’s National Processing Center in Jeffersonville, Ind.

In addition, the team established 11 call centers managed by IBM and Vangent across the country to answer respondents’ questions and to follow up to ensure no one is missed. “Between now and August, there will be an estimated 6.6 million inbound and 8.1 million outbound calls to ensure we are obtaining the most accurate data from respondents,” said Dunlap.

The results of the 2010 U.S. Census are due to the President in December 2010 as mandated by U.S. law.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.

Questionnaire Assistance Centers in Focus

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

We’ve received our fair share of tips about the effectiveness of operations at Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs), so we’re hoping that readers can comment on these centers and experiences you have had with them. Locales ranging from churches to senior centers to 7-11s are doubling as QACs. Unfortunately, we’ve been told that the “Take 10 Map” (that is annoyingly slow on all three computers I work with) doesn’t have every QAC listed. I noticed that Torrington, Connecticut (ZIP Code 06790), where I spent summers during my youth, only has one QAC. On the other hand, the South Shore of Nassau County (Zip Code 11570) in New York, where I grew up, has many QACs. Why the disparity?

One tipster told us, “Some organizations who originally agreed to this commitment backed out because the last paragraph of the attached agreement. My interpretation is that the government still wants to retain their right to sue if someone screws Uncle Sam.”

The paragraph in question from the Space Donation Agreement reads as follows:

Because the Federal Government is self-insured, it is the U.S. Census Bureau’s policy not to purchase or pay for commercial liability insurance. In addition, the Anti-Deficiency Act, Title 31 U.S.C. §1341,prohibits any Federal agency from undertaking contingent and undetermined liability without funds being appropriated by Congress for such purpose. For this reason, the Government cannot agree to a “hold-harmless” clause nor can it waive the right to sue.

*MyTwoCensus.com calls upon our readers to visit QACs in your area to test the knowledge of those who work there and to make sure that the QACs actually exist.

Census Director Apologizes for the word “Negro” on the Census form

Monday, March 29th, 2010

From the New York Times:

When Robert Groves, the director of the Census Bureau, appeared on C-Span’s “Washington Journal” program Friday morning, he found himself having to defend the racial designations on the census form.

A female caller posed this question: “I am black. I did not appreciate the black, the African-American, and Negro. … I do not like that…. It really hurt my feelings … that to me is racist.”

Mr. Groves, who has dealt with the ‘Negro’ designation before, apologized once again, explaining that before the 2000 Census began, there were many older African-Americans who called themselves “Negro.”

He also said he doubted that the category would still be around for the next census:

The intent of every word on the race and ethnicity questions is to be as inclusive as possible so that all of us could see a word here that rings a bell for us. […] It was not to be offensive, and again I apologize on that. My speculation is that, in 2020, that word will disappear, and there are going to be other words that are going to change.

Press Release: Communities Able to Track Percentage of Households Mailing Back Form

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

WASHINGTON, March 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following was released today by the U.S. Census Bureau:

What: With most 2010 Census questionnaires having arrived last week by mail for 120 million households, the U.S. Census Bureau will launch new interactive Google Maps showing initial mail participation rates. The collaborative partnership with Google allows communities the ability to track how their area is responding to the once-a-decade count. The Census Bureau will provide daily updates of the percentage of returned census forms using Google Maps and Google Earth.

The Census Bureau encourages everyone to “Take 10″ ? that is to take 10 minutes to answer the 10 questions on the census form. The mail participation rate for the nation in 2000 was 72 percent.  For every 1 percent increase in the national participation rate by mail, the Census Bureau can save taxpayers $85 million by not having to send census takers door to door to households that failed to return the census form. If every household mailed back its 2010 Census form, the cost of taking the census would be reduced by $1.5 billion.

The “Take 10″ map, which includes the 2000 Census mail participation rates as a benchmark for which communities are encouraged to exceed, will also feature an  easy-to-embed local rate tracker (widget) that local community officials, businesses and media can add to their Web sites to encourage residents to participate in the census.

Download the “Take 10″ Rate Tracker to embed on your Web site and the toolkit with templates and suggestions for implementing the “Take 10″ challenge locally. Check out your community’s 2010 Census mail participation rate and compare it to 2000 at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/.

When: Wednesday, March 24, noon (EDT)

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

Jesse Friedman, associate product marketing manager, Google

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: 1-800-619-4415

Passcode:  2010 CENSUS

Read more: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/census-bureau-rolls-out-new,1215971.shtml#ixzz0izgL9Arq

A Cool Tool For Tracking Demographic Data

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

I’m currently sitting in a lecture given by Susan Rasky of UC Berkeley’s Journalism School. She just shared with us a cool online tool from the Christian Science Monitor to track a whole load of American demographic data. Have fun using this site to compare areas of the United States with one another based on a whole load of cool factors ranging from Counties with a Whole Foods outlet to Counties with the highest foreclosure rates:

http://patchworknation.csmonitor.com/

Using Dora The Explorer To Reach A Hard To Count Demographic

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

When we’re talking about hard-to-count groups in Census-land, we oftentimes forget one shocking statistic: Many people who have a child under the age of five in their household simply forget to list that child (or children) on their census forms. The Census Bureau is trying to combat this by partnering with Nickelodeon television show Dora The Explorer to spread the 2010 Census message. However, with less than one week before Americans start to receive their 2010 Census forms in the mail, we wonder if this initiative could have been timed to get the word out with more advance notice?

On a semi-related note, see the below chart:

Census Bureau Director to Launch Children Awareness Campaign Featuring
Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer

What: U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves and key partners will
hold a press conference to launch a 2010 Census public awareness
campaign, Children Count Too, about the importance of counting
infants and young children on census forms. In support of this
initiative, Census Bureau partner Nickelodeon will debut a new
television spot featuring Dora the Explorer, the popular
children’s character on the network’s award-winning animated
preschool series. The briefing will include a media
question-and-answer session.

When: Tuesday, March 9, 2010
10 a.m. (EST)

Who: Robert M. Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau
Samantha Maltin, senior vice president of integrated marketing
and partnerships, Nickelodeon
Michael Laracy, director of policy reform and advocacy, Annie E.
Casey Foundation
William O’Hare, senior consultant, Annie E. Casey Foundation
Chris Perille, vice president of corporate communications and
public affairs, Mead
Johnson Nutrition
Maria Gomez, president, Mary’s Center

Where: Mary’s Center
2355 Ontario Road, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Census Bureau + NASCAR = Conservative Outreach Efforts

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Back in October, I learned from Steve Jost that the Census Bureau would be sponsoring a NASCAR vehicle. Today, driver Greg Biffle will debut this 2010-Census emblazoned speed machine (the No. 16 Ford Fusion) for  the first of three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Today’s race will be held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and the other races will take place at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 21 and Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, March 28.

I’ll never forget when my dad told me that NASCAR is America’s number one spectator sport, so I hope that with an average of 120,000 spectators at each Sprint Cup Series event, many eyes will be on the the 2010 Census logo and “mail it back!” on the hood, rear quarter panels and rear bumper of Biffle’s car. Additional elements stemming from the $1.2 million sponsorship deal include television spots on Fox during the races, a public service announcement from Biffle and 10 show car dates across the country.

(I’m hopeful that Greg Biffle — though I’d never heard of him before –  is the right man to carry the message. I’m not a NASCAR fan myself, but I wouldn’t be opposed to settling down with a beer and a bar-be-que for a few hours on a warm spring day with 120,000 of my dearest friends to watch Biffle’s car in action..)

Natural disasters and recession mean more families doubling up…

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

A New York Times article about Haitian families “doubling up” in the wake up the January earthquake highlights yet another issue that census-takers will have to deal with…primarily in Florida, New York, and other areas with large Haitian communities.

In other areas, such as Cleveland, Ohio — a city that some institutions suspect was undercounted in 2000 — the financial crisis and subsequent loss of jobs has resulted in extended families living temporarily…or long term…with one another. Nobody ever said enumeration would be easy…

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Get the $800 million back from Harris Corp.

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Taxpayers and government officials alike are either unaware of ignorant of one major debacle: The failure of the Harris Corp. to get their job done in creating and implementing functional mobile technology for the Census Bureau. Though this contract, signed in 2006, was originally valued at $600 million, it swelled to $800 million. (Reward insufficient and terrible work with more money…sounds like a solid government plan!!!)

If taxpayers have ever been swindled, this is the company that did it. (Harris Corp. was supposed to save the government $1 billion by implementing technology successfully, but in reality cost taxpayers $800 million for nothing!!! )  Unfortunately, higher-ups at the Census Bureau, initially during the Bush Administration, and currently during the Obama Administration, have done very little to recoup these losses. Legal action should be taken against this company for not performing the services that it was assigned to do. A large portion of this money should be returned to the United States Treasury — or at the very least, used to pay individuals working on the NRFU operations that will have to use a pen and pencil rather than a handheld computer.

In the year 2010, this is nothing short of pathetic. The government’s decision to choose the Harris Corporation for this contract was ludicrous. It’s decision to keep fueling the fires with $200 million of additional cash is shady at best.

MyTwoCensus intends to A. File an FOIA request to find out as much information about this contract as possible and B. Bring down Harris Corp. so they are forced to give this taxpayer money back.

MyTwoCensus urges Congress to pass legislation that prevents this company from obtaining more government contracts until the money for the 2010 Census contract is returned. Immediate government divestment from a corporation that robbed taxpayers is the only way to send the right message.

Additionally, MyTwoCensus calls on the government to immediately terminate  the Census Bureau’s 5-year contract with the Harris Corporation, as it is currently in its 5th year, and that means that there is still a chance to withhold 20% of the cash, or roughly $160 million.

On a more cheeky note, if Tea Party activists want to think of a site to hold their next protest, the Melbourne, Florida headquarters of this sleezy corporation would be one of the best and most symbolic places to do it!

New Community Message Board Feature On MyTwoCensus.com

Friday, February 26th, 2010

MyTwoCensus has received multiple requests for us to create a message board function that will enable 2010 Census employees and curious Americans to ask questions about the decennial census and discuss its operations. We have answered your calls for action by creating community.mytwocensus.com – a place where words and media can flow freely. This forum will be a largely unregulated world where you are free to post as you wish and take discussion in whichever direction you choose. There are also options for you to post photos, videos, and information about events. We hope to get many active discussions going on this site. Should you want to use this new site anonymously or under an alias, you have that option.

In the future, you will be able to find this new community page by clicking on the “Join our MyTwoCensus community” button on the right hand side of this page.

(H/t to MyTwoCensus.com Chief Technology Officer Evan Goldin for setting this up!)

Census Bureau Official says Senator Schumer Was Misled: The Truth About Census Jobs

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
MyTwoCensus has received a contribution from a Census Bureau official (verified to make sure this person is for real but with her full anonymity protected) that will serve as a response to our recent story from Indiana:
Several weeks ago, I was in a test session where an applicant told me that he heard about the census from an announcement by Senator Chuck Schumer on the nightly news.  The Senator said the work would pay pretty well and go anywhere from ten weeks to six to eight months. The applicant was nonetheless shocked when I handed him this piece of paper which said that the test he took was for work lasting only one to three weeks…(SEE ABOVE DOCUMENT)

As there is much confusion, I thought I’d write this letter to clarify some misconceptions. The first myth is the census will begin hiring in early 2010 which has some truth to it. There will be several smaller operations and a small number of office positions but the number of jobs is neglible (less than 5%).
The majority of jobs will be in May 2010 for the Non-Response Followup operation where enumerators will knock on people’s doors and ask them to fill out a questionnaire. The second myth is that the jobs last anywhere from ten weeks to six to eight months. According to this sheet of paper, it will last up to three weeks.   In fact the embarrassing part is no one really knows how long the job will last.
However from November 2009 to April 2010 the Census Bureau is on a mission to recruit tens of thousands of people based upon a model they will need five applicants for every one position:
* because one person will decline the position (doubt it, the unemployment rate is in double digits)
* one won’t show up to training (doubt that will happen for god’s sake the unemployment has been the worst in any census in a half a century)
* one won’t complete training or pass the test (they assume the applicant pool is inherently dumb which isn’t true because of the high caliber of applicants in the recession)
* and one will quit the first week (ok that might happen if you don’t like getting the door slammed in your face)
Based on my experience I can tell you we have had very high test scores, few job refusals and high retention of staff. If this continues it will result in many people not getting hired. The Census Bureau is wasting money recruiting all these people for a small number of jobs. It needs to rethink this ridiculous model because as we all know they already made the startling admission that their cost estimation models are completely inadequate  (just look at address canvassing and group quarters validation).
Most areas are already meeting their recruiting goals but we have trouble recruiting in more affluent neighborhoods of New York. In typical census fashion when goals aren’t being met they throw bodies at it and hope it improves. They hire recruiting assistants (RAs) based off a test score and ask yes/no questions during the interview. You answer yes to all the questions you get the job. Every week they hire more recruiting and partnership assistants. There is no organization, they just ask you to take a whole bunch of brochures and cards and give them out in the hopes you will get people to take the test.
Everyone has the same ideas: visit church groups, public housing, non-profit organizations so there is duplication of work. When the recruiting goals aren’t being met RCC intimidates and offers little constructive help. There are regional technicians who just go around and tell us we’re not recruiting enough people…(especially this short Asian guy with a Napoleon complex and some guy who snoozes during meetings). They don’t seem to understand that no one wants to take a test for the possibility of a job a few months from now, lasting only one-three weeks for $18.75 an hour which barely pays the exorbitant rents of $3,500 a month. More test sessions are scheduled and more clerks are hired but the phones don’t ring anymore than they did last week. Judging by the way they do recruiting you think this is the first time they are doing this. But they’ve been doing this since the first census in 1790. (okay maybe they didn’t have to recruit workers on horseback but it seems like an amateur operation).

The Census Bureau needs some innovation here:

* track recruiting efforts by putting a unique code (corresponding to each RA) on each brochure so there is an incentive everything they hand out results in someone applying
* commission or compensation linked to performance
* targeted media ads in local newspapers (which I have yet to see)
* get the Census road tour vehicle out there or have recruiting assistants tranform their cars into promotional vehicles
* reaching out to business improvement districts and unemployment agencies to advertise their jobs

Track recruiting efforts by putting a unique code (corresponding to each RA) on each brochure so there is an incentive everything they hand out results in someone applying…And while they are at it someone should reevaluate this model which I know is wrong. They need to stop throwing needless money away to recruit people who won’t even get called. The model is get as many bodies to take the test, offer a small percentage of them jobs and tell them it will last eight weeks. Then headquarters realizes there isn’t any work, other areas are working faster and they are running out of money.
In order to save themselves embarrassment they will rush the operation because the quicker they finish the better they look and the less money they have to spend. Get the hopes up of thousands of unemployed Americans who need work to put food on the table. Rinse and repeat.
So if anyone is listening to me. We don’t need more people, we just need better workers, better leadership and a more realistic recruiting model. Perhaps this recruiting speech might be more fit:
Hi I’m a recruiting assistant with the United States Census Bureau. We’re offering jobs in your community, as an RA I can’t tell you how long the jobs will last. The jobs may last eight weeks, but will probably be more like one to three weeks. I actually don’t know because our leaders at Census Bureau headquarters don’t know either. I do know you will need to take a basic skills test in reading comprehension, math skills and reasoning. However if you don’t get a perfect score and you’re not a veteran you may not get hired. On a lasting note you will make good money for a few weeks, then headquarters will realize they overestimated the workload, over staffed the operation and are running out of money. To make themselves look good they will probably tell you to work faster, do a haphazard job or risk being terminated. Are you still interested in a job?