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 ‘White House’ Category

For Folks In The New York Tri-State Area…

Friday, July 10th, 2009

This Sunday at 11:30am

The Great Latino Census
Boycott Debate!

Rev. Miguel Rivera (Pro)
versus
Angelo Falcón (Con)
on
ABC TV’s Tiempo Show
Hosted by
ABC Eyewitness News Reporter
Joe Torres

Sunday, July 12, 2009

11:3oam


Also on the Show
Meet the New President of
Hostos Community College

Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Tiempo Logo

Tiempo on WABC-TV New York
Sundays at 11am

A Failed Campaign: 2010 Census Ad Dollars Are Inadequate For Minorities

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

On April 29, the left-wing 2010 Census advocacy group The Census Project published a piece by Terri Ann Lowenthal (who served on President Obama’s transition team) that discussed the ethnic media’s perception that 2010 Census advertising efforts had gone seriously awry. Lownthal writes, “A panel of stakeholders advising the Census Bureau on the 2010 census paid advertising campaign issued a vote of “no confidence” in Draftfcb, the prime contractor responsible for the Communications program, which includes advertising and outreach to promote participation in the census.  The Joint Advertising Advisory Review Panel (JAARP), comprised of representatives of the Census Bureau’s official advisory committees, met last week to review proposed ads Draftfcb developed for the national census promotion campaign. The Census Bureau’s five Race and Ethnic Advisory Committees (REACs), representing communities of color that are at higher risk of undercounting in the census and other Census Bureau surveys, concurred with JAARP’s ‘no confidence’ statement with respect to Draftfcb’s creative materials for the 2010 census general campaign, at their biannual meetings held later in the week.”

Then, today, I came across an article from Frost Illustrated, an African-American publication, that described how the black community feels  they have been failed by the 2010 Census advertising efforts:

Census ad dollars ‘not enough’ black publishers say

By Pharoh Martin
NNPA National Correspondent

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (NNPA)—Rick Wade, deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to the U. S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, was met with a bit of displeasure from black publishers June 26 as they expressed that the government’s Census advertising plan for black newspapers was insufficient.

Wade announced to members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association that out of an estimated budget of more than $24 million dollars for black media advertising only $1.6 million will be spent with black newspapers.

The funds are to be used to assure an accurate count in difficult to count communities, such as among African Americans and Latinos.

“That’s not enough,” one publisher said quickly in response to Wade’s announcement. Another publisher did the math and equated that the estimated numbers will do nothing if split among hundreds of newspapers nationally. At the most it will only buy one ad, she said.

As others chimed in during a question and answer period, Wade assured the audience representing more than 200 black-owned newspapers that the proposed budget is not yet final.

“These are just estimates,” he said. “We believe we have sufficient funds to ensure an accurate count.”

Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers, and chair of the NNPA Foundation, then addressed another concern.

“Ten years ago, we ran your ads and didn’t get paid,” she said. “We are a significant part and we want to be counted.”

Wade assured, “These are paid advertisements so you will be paid.”

The intense, but courteous discussion underscored a long-standing contention by black newspaper publishers that they are often undercut by advertisers—including the federal government.

Wade told the group that he understands that black newspapers are not only press but they are also businesses and that it is in the interest of the Department of Commerce to advance businesses.

According to the temporary budget, the $24.7 million being allocated for black population media advertising during the census count will be split three ways. Black population media includes Black- American, Carribean-American and Black-African media outlets, according to Wade. The budget is comparable to the Latino media allocation of $27 million dollars.

The advertising campaign will begin in the fall and will end August 2010. The Census Bureau will adjust and reallocate unused money until it runs out.

The Department of Commerce will be pushing their message about participating in the 2010 census through a large advertising campaign in order to reach the “hardto- count” populations.

Wade spent most of his speech before America’s premier black publishers organization explaining the specifics of the 2010 Census and promoting the importance of $5 billion slated to broadband employment for the black community. But the information surrounding the Census’ advertising campaign is what caught the ears of the dozens of black newspaper publishers in attendance.

Following the breakfast the Census Bureau hosted a seminar called Advertising and Ethnic Media, in which, the Bureau gave more specifics about the process of securing an advertisement buy during the 2010 Census advertising campaign.

Contract management chief Kendall Johnson said as long as the media entity is solvent and has been in business at least a year it would qualify for ad money.

“We’re not looking for metrics. We’re just looking that you can reach the people you say you can reach,” she said.

The advertisements will be placed through multi-cultural advertising firm Globalhue and a pairing of smaller advertising firms. The smaller firms are being used because law states that 40 percent of the $326 million dollar contract’s budget must be spent on small businesses.

And even though 51 percent ad budget will be allocated to ethnicowned media some publishers fear that the money will not make its way down to community papers because many black newspapers have not had positive business experiences with Globalhue.

“We’re not being represented by that agency,” said a publisher who spoke but did not identify himself. “We have our own ad agencies that haven’t excluded us and put us behind the eight-ball. So it’s not [that] we don’t trust [the Census Bureau]. We don’t trust the guys you are doing business with.”

Census Vets Tapped for New Advisory Board

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Many thanks to Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post for breaking the following story:

Census Vets Tapped for New Advisory Board

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has tapped three Census Bureau veterans to serve as part-time advisers on operational, management and contracting issues while President Obama’s nominee to serve as Census director awaits a full Senate confirmation vote.

The trio includes Dr. Kenneth Prewitt, who served as bureau director from 1998 to 2001 and was widely believed to be the leading candidate for the position until suddenly withdrawing earlier this year with little explanation.

Kenneth Prewitt
Former Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt will return in a temporary advisory role.

Obama instead nominated Dr. Robert Groves for the job in April, but his nomination has been held up ever since he cleared the Senate’s government affairs panel in late May.

As Groves awaits a final vote, Locke will consult with Prewitt, National Opinion Research Center president John Thompson and former Census chief financial officer Nancy Potok. The trio will draft a list of suggestions for Locke, who will pass them off to Groves if he’s confirmed.

The move, first mentioned in late April and not formally announced until today, has raised the ire of congressional Republicans who fear the White House is “back dooring” Prewitt into the director’s job without formal congressional confirmation.

“By bringing in these outsiders with strong personalities, the Bureau runs the risk of having too many cooks in the kitchen challenging the actions of career civil servants who have worked for 18 months to ensure a successful 2010 Census,” Kurt Bardella, spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said in a statement. Issa leads a House GOP Census Task Force established earlier this year to monitor the Obama administration’s execution of next year’s headcount.

“We are within ten months of Census Day, the last thing we need is a structural change that could jeopardize the success of the Decennial,” Bardella added.

Commerce officials stress that the three are merely serving as advisers and that Groves “will run the agency with the independence and professionalism that the American people expect and the Constitution demands,” according to a department statement set for release today. The consultants “will use their decades of experience to tell us just what steps require immediate attention to make the 2010 Census a success.”

Groves will have to wait until at least July 6 for a Senate confirmation vote. The Senate approved a dozen other Obama nominees last Friday, but at least 30 other nominees are in limbo. Administration officials believe Republicans have blocked them out of anger with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s timetable for Sonia Sotomayor‘s Supreme Court nomination.

Prewitt currently serves as a Columbia University professor and ran NORC before serving as Census director. Thompson is a 27-year Census veteran who had responsibility for the management, operations, and methodology of the 2000 national headcount.

Potok, a 29-year Census veteran, served as principal associate director and CFO during the 2000 census and currently serves as chief operating officer of management consulting firm McManis & Monsalve Associates.

Full Transcript Of Stephen Robert Morse’s Conversation With Kenneth Prewitt

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Last week, I, Stephen Robert Morse, had the opportunity to interview former Census Director/current Census Bureau consultant Kenneth Prewitt. The following piece is certainly long (5,000+ words), but I think that it will provide many answers for people who have questions about the 2010 Census. If you don’t have the stamina to read such a long piece, I urge you to read the shortened version of this interview on MotherJones.com. Enjoy the following:

6/23/09: Conversation with Kenneth Prewitt, former Director of the U.S. Census Bureau

Interview by Stephen Robert Morse

SRM: When did you arrive back at the Census Bureau?

KP: By arrive back, you mean in the consultant sense?

SRM: Yes.

KP: I have been sworn in, but I haven’t actually started work, so I wouldn’t say that I have arrived back yet. I haven’t done any work yet because I was hoping that the confirmation process [for Robert M. Groves] would play out. I’ve done very little, but I’m probably going to try to get started in the next week or so.

SRM: Do you have to wait for Robert M. Groves’s Senate confirmation before you begin?

KP: No, I don’t have to wait. I just felt like it made more sense to do whatever I could whatever I could with the leadership who will be in place for the duration of the decennial. But no, it’s partly my own schedule and getting free of my obligations here [in New York] and so forth.

SRM: If you’re not running the show right now and Robert Groves isn’t running the show right now, who is running the show at the Census Bureau in Washington?

KP: Well, they’ve got an Acting Director [Tom Mesenbourg] who is running the show, and even if I had been there I wouldn’t be running the show [He laughs!] They have a leadership structure. The Census Bureau is not unfamiliar with acting directors. If you look across any decade, you will find that about 15-20% of the time, it being run by an acting director. So it’s not an unusual structure.

SRM: That’s a good lead-in to another question. Do you think the Director of the Census Bureau should have a fixed term? If so, for how long?

KP: I very strongly think it should be a fixed term. It should be a presidential appointed, Senate confirmed, five-year term, starting in the year 07 or 02 (or 12 or 17), off-cycle of the decennial Census (which takes place in years ending in 0), renewable once without Senate confirmation. And were it to be renewed again, it would go back to the Senate, so it could be a ten-year term with one Senate confirmation. I feel very strongly that it should be a fixed term.

SRM: And do you think the Census Bureau should be an independent agency?

KP: I very strongly feel that it should be an independent agency. It’s a scientific organization. It’s like the National Science Foundation, like NIH, like the Archives Center. It has a statistical responsibility for society and it should be treated as a science institution and like NASA and I think it would be a much stronger institution if it were independent.

SRM: Do you think the Census Bureau has been damaged by partisan activity?

KP: It’s a complicated question because the partisan activity goes back to 1790. [laughs] The first presidential veto, by George Washington, was a veto of Alexander Hamilton’s formula for apportioning the House, and the one that Washington preferred was one that Thomas Jefferson produced, and that was one partisan issue. The apportionment formula that Jefferson produced gave an extra seat to Virginia. Everybody knew what that game was [laughs]. That was partisan. Look, partisan interest in the census is simply nothing new. Has there been damage over that period? Yes, on and off. For example, after the 1920 Census, the House of Representatives was not apportioned. It was simply not apportioned, for ten years. That was a partisan issue. It wasn’t the Census Bureau itself, but it was a Census Bureau product in which the apportionment numbers simply weren’t used.

SRM: How does partisanship affect the census today?

KP: I think the sampling fight, whatever it was, was deeply unfortunate. And it was a partisan fight. And I have written at great length and argued a great length that it shouldn’t have been partisan. The Census Bureau does not know how to be partisan. If it tried to design a census that had a partisan outcome, it wouldn’t know how to do it. How could you predict in three or four or five years before you are doing the decennial census, a design that would benefit this district instead of that district? If you’re trying to count everybody, you wouldn’t know how to torque it in a way. It’s all about a share basis. All apportionment numbers and redistricting numbers are on a share basis, which means that if you do something here, you’re adjusting the entire system, because it’s allocated on a fixed pie, on a share basis. So the actual assertion that the Census Bureau could behave in such a way as to tilt things one way or the other way in the partisan sense, is, on the face of it, a silly charge. It’s the same Census Bureau that’s considered to be incompetent by some people and then some of the same people are saying that this incompetent agency is so clever and so Machiavellian that it can design a census for partisan reasons. It just doesn’t compute. Now, did [accusations of partisanship] damage the census? Yes, it damaged the idea of sampling. As I quip, I like to tell the people I interact with who are against sampling, I say, “Next time you want to go to the doctor for a blood test, don’t say ‘I want you to take out a little bit,’ say ‘Take out all of it!’ How else will you know? Clearly there’s a fundamental sense in which the public and the leadership understand sampling. When you wake up in the morning and you want to find out whether it’s raining, you don’t look out every window of your house, you look out one window. There, you sampled. Etcetera, etcetera. So, the idea that we turned the word sampling into a dirty word and a partisan word is deeply, deeply damaging, not to the Census Bureau, but the idea of fiscal integrity, the idea of how do you have the best count possible. That’s not necessarily an argument for a particular methodology, dual system estimation. It’s a complicated, difficult methodology, and the Census Bureau has now worked on it, and understands that it hasn’t quite gotten it right yet, but the whole thought that this is about something called sampling, goes against a very particular technical methodology, which the U.S. Congress has not shown the patience to try to understand, is unfortunate. On the other hand, every other number we use to govern society, the CPI, all the lagging indicators, unemployment numbers, trade statistics, healthcare, how many people are uninsured, all of those numbers are based on samples.

SRM: After President Obama was elected, you were the frontrunner to become the next Director of the Census Bureau. Even the New York Times endorsed you for this position. Why did you withdraw your name from the running?

KP: By the way, I don’t know what the word “frontrunner” means in that sense. I am aware that my name was mentioned, but who knows who the frontrunner was or was not? I was aware that I was under consideration. At a certain point, I felt it more appropriate and more useful, because I had decided that I was not going to be able to relocate, I have heavy duties at Columbia University, and I wanted to continue those duties. In that sense, I wrote a note that said, “If you are considering me, please don’t.” But I wouldn’t say that I was a nominee who withdrew.

SRM: Why do you think Bob Groves’ confirmation [to become the next director of the U.S. Census Bureau] has been stalled?

KP: I wish I had a good answer to that question. I really do. I see that some people went through last week. I think maybe nineteen people, or some large number of people, went through last week. But why he wasn’t on that list, I don’t know. As I had quickly e-mailed to you, I had gone along on the assumption that  everybody was being held out because of the start of the hearings on Sotomayor. But if they are letting some people through but not Bob, I simply don’t have a good explanation for that.

SRM: Do you have any suspicions as to who stalled the nomination?

KP: No, I really don’t. I don’t walk the halls of Congress, where I could learn that. I think I would know if it were knowable, if somebody knew.

SRM: When do you think this will be resolved?

KP: How about six weeks ago? [Laughs] That’s when I thought it would be resolved. I just find it sad, on one level, because somebody doesn’t take the census serious enough to recognize that leadership matters. And leadership does matter. It’s June, for heaven sakes. It’s already too late to improve some things, but it’s going to get increasingly too late to improve anything. And the poor Census Bureau is going to get beaten up for something it didn’t have any say-so in. At the end of the day, nobody’s going to remember that you didn’t have a director [currently there is an acting director] for a year and a half, going on two years. But there was also a long period before Murdoch [Stephen Murdoch, Census Director during the last year of the Bush administration] was appointed and confirmed. That’s a slight exaggeration because the deputy census director had been basically eased out (forced into retirement)  and the then-census director Louis Kincannon had said that he would resign. However, he said that he would stay on until a replacement was in place, but once he decided to announce that he would resign, it obviously created a lame duck situation. So it was obviously very difficult for the Census Bureau to move during that period. And it took the Bush Administration a year to find Murdoch and then another six months to get him confirmed, so in that sense there was an 18 month period when you were expecting to have a director and you didn’t have one. Louis was still there for much of it. He’s a very first rate man and a very effective guy but he had already announced that he was leaving, so in terms of planning the decennial, there wasn’t a whole lot that Louis could be doing.

SRM: As we’re now talking about the Census Bureau in the early and mid 2000s, what happened to the 2010 Census? Where did things go wrong? What are your thoughts?

KP: Hermann Habermann, who Louis Kincannon appointed when he was became Director, was a very talented and important Deputy Director (of the Census Bureau). Hermann and Louis both had deep experience within the Census Bureau and both had gone on to do other kinds of things. Louis had gone on to OECD (?) and Hermann had gone on to the United Nations Fiscal Program, so they were real, major professionals and were running, I think, a very good operation. And this is now back in 02, 03, 04. Then there were some money problems, some serious money problems. Not money problems in terms of the Census Bureau’s budget, but it got held up, there were continued resolutions. It had nothing to do with the Census Bureau, they just got chewed up in the process, which meant that there was a period, and I don’t have that period in my mind, but a period in the mid-decade, when they couldn’t actually plan seriously for the decennial, because they didn’t know how much money they were going to have. They didn’t have the kind of money in that year, for example, to do the kind of planning they needed to do. They were really being squeezed financially. Then, after the ’06 election, Hermann was basically eased out by the Commerce Department.

SRM: What does that mean exactly?

KP: He was told that he would be reassigned from being deputy director of the Census Bureau to some other job in the Commerce Department, which was not one he wanted, so in that sense he wasn’t going to be what he thought he was, which was Deputy Director of the Census Bureau. So, that was when Louis Kincannon said “If I can’t have my own Deputy Director, then I myself will resign.” So that’s in ’06 and that was done by the [Bush] Administration for whatever its reasons were. I know what the public reasons were, but I don’t think they were the real reasons.

SRM: What were those reasons?

KP: The public reason was that there had been a laptop issue, and they blamed Hermann for that laptop issue. There were stolen laptops. Look, the proportion of stolen laptops at the Census Bureau that went missing were a tiny percentage of what some other agencies were experiencing. And Hermann was a very responsible civil servant, and when the word came out that he had to let us know what the laptop situation was under the law, blah, blah, blah, he answered forthrightly and quickly, so the Census Bureau took the hit, and for whatever reason they decided to blame him. Ok, now I’m getting all of this back in my mind. So Hermann then leaves and Jay Waite becomes Deputy Director, so essentially Jay Waite was running  the decennial census during that time. It was then in that period, then, this is in 06, after the mid-term, when they begin to run into troubles with the handhelds. As I said, Hermann was first-rate and he was managing the contracts. So, they didn’t really have anyone to be managing those contracts, and Jay Waite, who is a very talented man on some operations, he just wasn’t attuned to some of the issues that could come up with the handheld situation, so that one got out of hand.

SRM: So who’s fault was this? Who’s fault was this whole handheld computer debacle?

KP: The Department of Commerce. This is why I think it needs to be an independent agency. They weren’t paying attention to the Census Bureau during the intermediate years. That’s always true. That’s why it has to be independent. Look, who is to blame? That’s a Washington question. Structures are some times to blame, not people. I mean, you can create a structure which makes carrying out a certain task very difficult, not in order to carry that task out, in order to do something else, but the result is unintended consequences. The unintended consequence of getting Hermann Habermann out of the Deputy Director position in those years was not having anyone pay attention to the handheld debacle. The fact that Hermann Habermann was removed on not a very good charge contributed to the fact that nobody was paying attention to the contract, the Harris contract [the $600 million debacle to create handheld computers for the 2010 Census], at the level of detail he needed to be paying attention to for about a year.

SRM: There were reports by the Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, and they all said over and over again that the 2010 Census was a very high risk situation. It seems like even after these reports came out that there were opportunities to correct these errors, but nobody listened this advice. Again, who is to blame? Why did this happen? What is the root of these failures?

KP: Well, I don’t know. Whoever it was that doesn’t want Bob Groves…I’m not trying to find somebody to blame. I’m trying to say, what is the situation that leads to these kind of outcomes? All of this starts during the mid-term elections in 06. You had a quasi-leaderless situation in 06-07. Then, you get the handheld fiasco, whatever you want to call it. Then the Secretary of Commerce and the Commerce Department tries to put something together in an emergency situation. But then with Steve Murdoch in the Directorship position, but then there’s an election in 08. But because there’s not a term appointment [for the Census Director], Murdoch is clearly not going to go, so it’s now…

SRM: What are your thoughts on Murdoch and his leadership?

KP: Steve was in a difficult position, because if he had a five-year term, he could have run the Bureau differently than if you think you’re going to be there for a year. That’s why this fixed term really does matter. So the Census Bureau gets jerked around, starting in 06, first by the administration, and then by Congress not acting, and then on budgetary issues and so forth. And suddenly you’re walking up to 2010 and you’ve gone almost four years without a permanent, solid, leadership team in place to do the decennial, because the person who was doing it, Jay Waite, also leaves, and I won’t blame anybody, but he leaves. Murdoch leaves because he had to. Tom Mesenbourg [current acting director of the Census Bureau] who I have a great deal of respect for, a very talented man, becomes Acting Director, but he had never done a decennial, so he’s got to learn on the job. He’s doing a first-rate job of learning on the job, but he had never done a decennial. So you have an agency that no one is actually paying attention to until there’s a problem, and then there’s a lot of rushing around and looking for quote on quote, someone to blame. And now, we’re perpetuating it by letting Bob Groves sit around at his apartment in Washington instead of running the Census Bureau.

SRM: So Bob’s not even going into the office yet?

KP: He can’t. He technically can’t.

SRM: There was a Field Data Collection Automation Task Force, known as the FDCA Task Force, and they made another report to Carlos Gutierrez (Secretary of Commerce) in early 2008 with recommendations on how to improve the collection of field data. What has been done since early 2008, for over a year now?

KP: If that’s the task force I’m thinking of, then I was on it. Our only job was to advise Gutierrez on what to do regarding the handheld computers. And that was the task force that said “Keep them for address canvassing but don’t use them for non-response follow-up. So in that sense, it was acted upon.

SRM: Do you think that it’s surprising that here we are, in the year 2009, and we’re conducting the 2010 Census without using technology for all parts of the operation?

KP: Let me put it as follows. I think the Census Bureau has been a technical innovator, certainly since the start of the 20th Century. After all, it was the first agency to use the Hollerith Card, the old punch card which was married to an adding machine which became IBM. It invented sampling theory in the 1930s. It was the first federal agency to use a major mainframe in the 1950s. It was extremely adept in 2000 in doing intelligent character recognition and data capture using very, very high-tech processes. And I think you can say about 2010, that it was technically innovative in using the handhelds in address canvassing. Who’s to say that they had to use handhelds for non-response follow-up? So, they have been technologically innovative once again, with respect to GPS and address canvassing. I don’t know the results yet, but I hope we’ve come out of this with a much better address list than we had in 2000. We won’t know until we start in the field, but at least one has reason to think it is. So, I think it has been technologically innovative. The fact that you didn’t take the extra step for non-response follow-up doesn’t mean that it’s been technologically stagnant.

SRM: But do these handheld computer devices from the Harris Corporation even work properly? And were they designed properly?

KP: Well, that I’m not in the position to judge. They’re doing quality studies on that right now.

SRM: Do you think that Harris Corp. is a worthy company to receive these contracts?

KP: I need to see how well the devices work. Anybody who gives you an opinion on that is doing it before the data are in.

SRM: I don’t know if you’ve read on MyTwoCensus.com and other blogs, where people have complained about the functionality of these devices.

KP: When you payroll 140,000 people, it’s not hard to find people who are disgruntled. And I’m not saying they’re wrong. I actually talked to people who did the address canvassing work, people I know extremely well, people who had no reason whatsoever not to tell me what was going on, and they had some problems, but they are convinced that they ended the process by producing a much better address list then when they went into it. And that’s the test. Of course there’s always somebody saying “this didn’t work” or “that didn’t work.” But the test is, do we have a better address list? And that’s quality control judgment. I’m not trying to slam your website (MyTwoCensus.com) but you have to appreciate that you are getting a self-selected group of correspondents. But I’m not passing judgment on you, and you shouldn’t pass judgment on the technology until the data are in. What I’m saying is that I don’t think the people who are writing to bloggers are the people producing systematic data.

SRM: I understand that. So, what are the greatest obstacles that remain for the 2010 Census operation?

KP: The old ones. They haven’t changed. One, you’ve got to start with a good address list. If it’s a good one, good. If it’s not, then you can’t have a good census because that’s your frame. And when you send non-response follow-up people, there’s that. Secondly, you’ve got to hope for a decent mail-back  response rate, because the workload goes way up and the costs go way up if you don’t have a good mail back response rate. And we simply do not yet know what the response rate is because we haven’t done it yet. But if it’s not in the mid-60s, it’s going to be both budgetarily and operationally very difficult for the Census Bureau. And in 2000, we had expected to be in the low 60s, and we got into the mid to high 60s and that was an enormous boost, and we did it with a first-rate effort. And I think that the people running the advertising campaign right now and all of the outreach are very good professionals and I hope they are successful. But it’s up to the American people to do it. What can the Census Bureau do, other than put it in their mailboxes on schedule. And if they [the American people] don’t send it back in, they have to start knocking on the door. So there is the mail-back response rate and then there’s the willingness to cooperate in non-response follow up, and then there’s the startling problem of the enormous number of undocumented in the country, who will have every reason not to want to cooperate with the federal government.

SRM: What do you think about people like Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who last week, in an interview with The Washington Times, said that she refused to fill out the 2010 Census form?

KP: I think it’s seriously unfortunate when an elected official of the federal government says that I’m going to deliberately break the law. I don’t know what kind of signal she thinks that sends, but if she believes that’s a good signal, I’m sad for the country. She says, incorrectly, because she hasn’t read the law, that the only thing she needed to do is give the number of people who live in her household. If everyone in the country did that, you would have zero quality control. Zero, because you do quality  control not only on how many there are, but is the family structure the way you told it is, is the racial composition, is the gender composition? You do quality control on all those other variables, and it means that you’re eliminating the capacity of the Census Bureau to do quality control. I think that it’s deeply, deeply, unfortunate that a member of Congress would, in effect, announce that, and invite other people who feel that way to say, “Well I don’t have to do it either.”

SRM: Do you think this has become a partisan issue?

KP: I have no idea. You asked me what I thought. It’s my opinion of her behavior. I don’t know her motivation.

SRM: Do you think that radio hosts and other prominent people questioning whether people should participate in the 2010 Census would turn this into a partisan issue?

KP: Everything can turn into a partisan issue. Honestly, I can tell you what the consequences are, but in terms of motivation, when you don’t know the people, I don’t know if it’s a partisan or non-partisan issue. I think it’s unfortunate for what it will do to the 2010 Census.

SRM: I’m sure the Mother Jones readers would be very interested in me asking about President Obama’s announcement on Friday, June 19 that gay marriage would now be able to be counted in the 2010 Census. What exactly does that mean and how exactly would that be done?

KP: Here I’m fairly confident that they have not worked out the exact operational procedures yet, because this was not expected when they were designing the questionnaire and designing the procedures, they did not think this was how they would be tabulating it. There isn’t a good answer to your question yet, or at least I haven’t seen it. Look, any time you are doing something with 300 million people, it’s not easy to get it right in different locales, however the question is worded on this now. Relationships in the household are on the short form.

SRM: Will the government be printing new forms now?

KP: No, it’s impossible. You can’t start reprinting new forms now. This stuff is already being printed. It takes a very long time and a lot of forward planning to run something of this magnitude. The idea of reprinting would probably be impossible.

SRM: So how would gay households know that they count?

KP: Well, that’s something that I can’t answer because I haven’t seen anything yet. There will be some serious effort by Census Bureau personnel to  create an operational plan that will make it work. I think they will go about this very seriously to make sure there aren’t any errors in the data. They want to get it right. This is who they are and what they do.

SRM: I noticed that Steve Jost (political appointee and former Census Bureau communications director) is back at the Census Bureau, and he was one of your deputies during the Clinton administration. Are you bringing back many people who were formerly there during the a Clinton administration.

KP: Jost is probably the only one. Hundreds of people at the Census Bureau were there during the Clinton administration. The Census Bureau has about five thousand employees, and if they didn’t retire or die, then they were still there in 2000. In terms of political appointees, there’s only 4. The director, the communications director, Steve Jost, the legislative director, and I’m absolutely certain that the person I had as legislative director will not be coming back, and then there’s intergovernmental relations, who deals with governors and mayors, and I’m absolutely certain that person is not coming back. So I think Jost would be the only one.

SRM: What about you? What’s your actual title now?

KP: Consultant.

SRM: Is that a part-time job?

KP: Certainly it’s a part-time job. Good gosh, I’ve got a real job. I’m just a consultant for the Census Bureau.

SRM: Are you the only person that has that title or do other people also have that title?

KP: I bet they have two or three hundred consultants out there doing different kind of work right now. You shouldn’t quote me on that number, but I imagine there’s a very large number of people doing some version of consulting work. You’ve got to imagine how big this is. For example, you may have a consultant who tells you how to make sure the trucks which are delivering the census forms to the data capture centers got an extra driver on April 13th to make sure they arrive on time. OR if they’re going to fingerprint everybody, you may have a consultant who tells you how to count a fingerprint to make sure this all runs smoothly and so forth. It’s big. If you’re going to payroll a million people, you may have consultants to make sure the payroll system is functioning. So don’t make my role something special.

SRM: You are the only person whose role as a consultant has been reported, that’s why I was asking.

KP: Okay, fair enough. Don’t quote me on the number, but I would be very surprised to find out that the number is a very large number of consultants, on all kinds of technical issues and so forth.

SRM: I know it’s early, but what will people say when they look back on the 2010 Census?

KP: I hope they say they pulled off a miracle [laughs].

SRM: Will you need a miracle at this point?

KP: That’s a quip, but I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to do this census in the current environment. That has nothing to do with the Census Bureau’s skill set. It has to do with the American people’s not wanting to be bothered, not answering their mail, not having phone lines anymore because they got cell phones, and the Census Bureau wants to do follow-up on the phone, and they can’t find phone number because they’ve only got the landline number. It has to do with the number of mobile people who would have changed houses between the time you did the address listing and when you knocked on the door. Houses will get torn down and houses will be built. The whole foreclosure crisis is a major crisis because whole hunks of the country are empty when they should be functioning neighborhoods. There are just a host of problems. And then there are the ones we can’t predict. Who knows? Natural disasters, strikes, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. I know it’s going to be difficult, it’s always difficult to do a serious census. In this current economic and political and general cultural circumstances. Let me ask you a question. Let’s say there are 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country. What percentage of those people do you think will mail a questionnaire back in?

SRM: 10?

KP: Whatever it is, it’ a low number. So let us say it’s 50%. That’s a 3% undercount before you start. Let us say it’s 25%, then you’ve got an even bigger undercount before you’ve even started.

SRM: So that’s what explains the need for the use of statistical sampling?

KP: That’s one of the reasons we were going to use it, but we can’t. So that just means that you’re doing a census knowing that you are going to miss a very significant proportion of the American population. And you’re obligated to count everyone, that’s just an uphill battle.

SRM: I really appreciate this conversation, and I definitely learned quite a bit. Thank you very much.

KP: It will only get more interesting.

SRM: I hope we can speak again soon. Thank you, goodbye.

Associated Press: Locke urges end to GOP block on census nominee

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
The following article from the Associated Press echoes MyTwoCensus’s opinion on the stalled confirmation of Robert M. Groves:

By HOPE YEN

WASHINGTON (AP) — Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Wednesday urged Congress to immediately end a GOP block on President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the 2010 census, saying continued delays are putting the high-stakes head count at risk.

Initially put on hold by an anonymous GOP senator, Groves is now among roughly 30 Obama nominees in limbo after Republicans protested the quick timetable for hearings on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation. Under Senate rules, a senator can hold up a nomination without going public or providing an explanation.

Robert Groves, a veteran survey researcher with the University of Michigan, was easily approved by a Senate committee last month. But Republicans have stalled Groves’ full confirmation vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Republicans aren’t yet in agreement on Groves; his office says it has no information as to why.

“The Census Bureau cannot wait for strong leadership any longer,” Locke said in a statement. “The longer this nomination is held up, the greater the risk to the accuracy and success of the 2010 census. Robert Groves stands ready to run the agency with the independence and professionalism that the American people expect and the Constitution demands.”

Groves, 60, has drawn skepticism from House Republicans. As a former census associate director, Groves pushed for the use of statistical sampling in the 1990s to make up for an undercount of millions of minorities who tend to vote for Democrats, but was later overruled by the Republican commerce secretary.

In his confirmation hearing last month, Groves sought to allay GOP concerns by ruling out the use of broad sampling in the 2010 census, which is used to apportion House seats and redraw congressional districts. Groves has also pledged to resign if he encounters undue partisan interference in tallying census figures.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security committee which considered Groves’ nomination, said she believed it was necessary for Groves to be confirmed soon.

“The Census Bureau has acknowledged that it is experiencing critical problems with its management and testing of key information technology systems,” she said. “I do not know who has placed a hold on Mr. Groves’ nomination, nor do I understand the rationale for holding him up. I am very eager to get this qualified candidate on the job.”

The delay on Groves comes as the Census Bureau heads into its final critical months of preparation for the 2010 head count, including an aggressive outreach campaign aimed at hard-to-find groups such as immigrants, non-English speaking residents and displaced homeowners.

The agency has already acknowledged that tens of millions of residents in dense urban areas — about 14 percent of the U.S. population — are at high risk of being missed. Groves has said that if he is confirmed, one of his first steps would be to conduct a thorough risk assessment study to pinpoint ways to improve the count.

Census to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages in ’10 Count

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Here’s the Associated Press story about the big news…

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Married same-sex couples will be counted as such in 2010, Census Bureau officials said, reversing a decision of the Bush administration.

Steve Jost, a spokesman for the Census Bureau, said same-sex couples would be counted, “and they ought to report the way they see themselves,” adding, “In the normal process of reports coming out after the census of 2010, I think the country will have a good data set on which to discuss this phenomenon that is evolving in this country.”

Same-sex couples could not be married in the United States during the last decennial count. But last year, after two states had approved same-sex marriages, the bureau said those legal marriages would go uncounted because the federal Defense of Marriage Act prevented the government from recognizing them.

Since President Obama took office, his administration has been under pressure from gay rights advocates to take a fresh look at the issue.

The White House announced Friday that its interpretation of the act did not prohibit gathering the information.

$206 Million for the Census Bureau up in smoke

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Update: According to Rep. Patrick McHenry’s office, Rep. Pete Olson withdrew his amendment after he and McHenry discussed how important it was to fully fund the 2010 Census.  This is what prompted the following letter from McHenry’s office:
 
Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act – Oppose Cuts to Census Funding
 
Dear Colleague,
 
            With operational costs increasing as we near Decennial Census Day – April 1, 2010 – the Census Bureau budget has become an easy target for offsets in the appropriations process.  Several amendments have been filed that will strip even more crucial funding from the Bureau that is used for community outreach, advertising, non-response follow-up and data analysis.  This could translate into fewer responses to the initial paper survey and a greater, more laborious effort in door-to-door follow-up visits by census workers. 
 
            Census data guides the allocation of $300 billion in federal funds to state and local governments, and representative districts from Congress to school boards are based on census results.  It is absolutely vital that the census is fully funded to get a complete and accurate count of every person residing in America. 
 
            Help ensure that the 2010 Census is the most accurate decennial to-date by opposing any reductions to funding from the Census Bureau in the FY2010 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

 

MyTwoCensus would like to give a hat tip to TheCensusProject.org for reporting the following information:

CENSUS NEWS BRIEF

June 16, 2009 No. 65

BREAKING NEWS: 2010 Census Funding at Risk on House Floor

Funding for the Census Bureau next year could be slashed significantly as the U.S. House of Representatives begins debating the Fiscal Year 2010 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill (H.R. 2847) today.

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) is expected to offer an amendment that would shift $566.5 million from the Census Bureau to NASA’s exploration account, more than eight percent of the $6.671 billion the Appropriations Committee allocated for 2010 census operations in the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2009.

Numerous additional amendments that would siphon off funds from the Census Bureau — always a target for lawmakers seeking to boost funding for law enforcement, science, and other popular programs in the massive spending bill — are expected over the next two days.

According to analyses by the Brookings Institution, almost $400 billion in federal program funds annually — $4 trillion over the decade — is allocated to states and localities based in whole or in part on census data. The analyses, broken down by program and by state, are available on The Census Project web site at www.thecensusproject.org (under Fact Sheets).

The Census Bureau’s FY2010 budget also took an unexpected hit in the Appropriations Committee last week, when a misunderstanding between panel members and the Commerce Department (the Census Bureau’s parent department) led appropriators to reduce the agency’s funding by $206 million. Lawmakers had thought the amount, appearing in the President’s detailed budget request as a carry-over from 2009, represented extra money, when in fact the Census Bureau had committed the funds to a paid media buy.

The Administration told Congress yesterday that if the $206 million is not restored before Congress finalizes the Commerce spending measure, the Census Bureau would reduce a planned $573 million contingency fund for the 2010 census by that amount. The contingency fund, the Administration said, would cover unanticipated conditions, such as a lower-than-projected mail response rate or more vacant units that increase the non-response follow-up workload, or unforeseen events, such as a natural disaster or health pandemic. The emergency fund, Census officials told Congress, “is not a very large reserve for a once-a-decade program of this size and complexity, which must be completed by statutory deadlines.”

###

Census News Briefs are prepared by Terri Ann Lowenthal, an independent legislative and policy consultant specializing in the census and federal statistics. All views expressed in the News Briefs are solely those of the author. Please direct questions about the information in this News Brief to Ms. Lowenthal at TerriAnn2K@aol.com. Please feel free to circulate this document to other interested individuals and organizations. Ms. Lowenthal is a consultant to the nonpartisan Census Project, organized by the Communications Consortium Media Center in Washington, DC. Previous Census News Briefs are posted at www.thecensusproject.org.

ACORN is back in the news…

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Below, Congressman Steve King discussed Democrat efforts to block his amendment keeping ACORN of out the 2010 census with FOXNEWS on June 17, 2009:

Will the CIO bring about changes in the Census Bureau’s tech spending?

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Check out this post from the New York Times’s Bits Blog:

The Nation’s C.I.O.: Government Needs a Dashboard


By Saul Hansell

Vivek KundraHO/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Vivek Kundra

It is sadly too easy to find examples of federal technology projects gone awry. To Vivek Kundra, the nation’s new chief information officer, one seems to stick in his craw: An effort to build a handheld computer for examiners conducting the 2010 census was abandoned last year, wasting $600 million. Mr. Kundra, who when I met him earlier this month was juggling both a BlackBerry and an iPhone, is shocked that the government could not simply find a way to use an existing smartphone or similar device.

Mr. Kundra’s job is to manage what will be $76 billion in spending to maintain 10,000 government systems as well as 800 active projects to build major new systems (those costing $50 million or more). I asked him how he could possibly keep tabs on all this to prevent the next $600 million albatross. He had a one-word answer:

Dashboards.

By the end of June, Mr. Kundra hopes to start yet another federal Web site that will give officials and the public a window into all of the active government technology projects. For each project, it will show the purpose, schedule and budget. It will show the name and photo of the federal official responsible and the names of which contractors are working on the project, a fact that Mr. Kundra says oddly has not been made public before.

Mayors set to meet with Obama: 2010 Census on the agenda…

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Today, during the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which this year was held in Providence, Rhode Island, President Obama offered the many mayors in attendance a chance to visit him at the White House in the near future. In addition to the economic recovery measures that will be discussed at this future meeting, the 2010 Census will also be a high priority agenda item. Check out the report from the AP:

Nickels, mayors accept White House invitation, but not this month

Officials from the U.S. Conference of Mayors said today they plan to accept a White House invitation to meet on economic issues facing their cities. But the conference’s newly sworn-in president, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, says the mayors won’t be able to make the administration’s proposed date of June 29.

By KELSEY ABBRUZZESE

The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Officials from the U.S. Conference of Mayors said today they plan to accept a White House invitation to meet on economic issues facing their cities.

But the conference’s newly sworn-in president, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, says the mayors won’t be able to make the administration’s proposed date of June 29 because they want to develop a substantive agenda that reflected the conference’s national meeting in Providence. He wouldn’t say when they might be able to go.

Among the topics on the agenda were federal stimulus aid, gun control and the 2010 Census.

“It’ll take a little longer than two weeks to put together. This took six months to put together,” Nickels said, referring to the group’s four-day gathering in Providence.

Vice President Joseph Biden and other officials skipped this year’s U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting to avoid crossing a Providence firefighter picket line, although the White House has said the Obama administration isn’t taking a position on the labor dispute.

“We will continue to listen to and work with mayors, as we have since the beginning of this administration, and look forward to working with Mayor Nickels to identify a date that works for him and his colleagues,” White House spokeswoman Moira Mack said in a written statement today.

Obama Administration employment figures are lies: Why the numbers don’t add up…

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

As MyTwoCensus has consistently reported for the past few months, the U.S. Government’s unemployment figures are completely misleading. The government factored the 140,000 people who assisted with the Census Bureau’s first round of address canvassing operations as having new jobs that were created during these most troubling economic times.

However, as hundreds of our readers have expressed through their comments, contributions, and by contacting us, most of the employment for these early canvassing operations was extremely brief, lasting anywhere from a few days of training (without ever being called in for the actual job) to a couple of months (for the luckiest of employees).

Only now, after months of  neglecting these misleading statistics and happily toeing the Obama party line about job creation, is  the mainstream media beginning to pick up on these reporting errors, about the very limited job creation for 2010 Census operations. Thanks to the Associated Press for the following report:

Part-timers form a hidden unemployment rate

TOWNSHEND, Vt. (AP) — When the monthly unemployment figures come out Friday, Greg Noel will go from collecting government statistics to becoming one. Again.

Noel, 60, was among more than 60,000 Americans hired in April to help with the 2010 Census. But he’s out of work once more and moving back on the unemployment rolls because his temporary gig is finished.

It’s a familiar predicament in today’s economy, in which some 2 million people searching for full-time work have had to settle for less, and unemployment is much higher than the official rate when all the Americans who gave up looking for jobs are counted, too.

For the past month, Noel and more than 140,000 Census workers fanned out to create a map of every housing unit in the country, part of what will be the largest peacetime mobilization of civilian workers.

He roamed the spine of the Green Mountains with a handheld GPS unit for several weeks, wandering down dirt roads and chatting with people whose livelihoods are also uncertain. Work was good: The sun was out, the snow was gone and the blackflies hadn’t begun to hatch.

Because of the surge of Census hiring, April unemployment only rose to 8.9 percent — a much slower increase than had been feared. But the latest unemployment figures aren’t likely to get similar help. Thousands like Noel who were among one of the largest segments of the work force — people who have taken part-time jobs because they can’t find full-time work — have returned simply to being unemployed.

Consider the numbers:

_The 8.9 percent April unemployment rate was based on 13.7 million Americans out of work. But that number doesn’t include discouraged workers, or people who gave up looking for work after four weeks. Add those 700,000 people, and the unemployment rate would be 9.3 percent.

_The official rate also doesn’t include “marginally-attached workers,” or people who have looked for work in the past year but stopped searching in the past month because of barriers to employment such as child care, poor health or lack of transportation. Add those 1.4 million people, and the unemployment rate would be 10.1 percent.

_The official rate also doesn’t include “involuntary part-time workers,” or the 2 million people like Noel who took a part-time job because that’s all they could get, plus those whose work hours dropped below the full-time level. Once those 9 million workers are added to the unemployment mix, the rate would be 15.8 percent.

All told, nearly 25 million Americans were either unemployed, underemployed, or had given up looking for a job in April.

The ranks of involuntary part-timers has increased by 4.9 million in the past year, according to a May study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Many economists now predict unemployment won’t peak until 2010. And since employers generally increase the hours of existing workers before hiring new ones, workers could be looking for full-time jobs for some time.

“You haven’t seen job loss numbers like this before,” said Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress in Washington. “It’s been such a sharp dip down that you’ll see a lot of employers taking on temporary and part-time workers before they add employees.”

For tens of thousands of people like Noel, a part-time job isn’t their dream position, but it beats the alternative. A Pennsylvania native and veteran of the Silicon Valley boom-and-bust cycle, Noel settled in southern Vermont in 2003. He’s worked a series of jobs, commuting to his latest position as an auditor for a family-owned food and beverage distributor in Brattleboro before being laid off in early spring.

Vermont is in better shape than most states — but not by much. Real estate and tourism, pillars of the state’s economy over the past decade, are staggering.

Many parents who were frantic last year about sons and daughters serving in Iraq and Afghanistan — the state has sent a disproportionate share of its young people overseas — now are relieved their children have a steady job with benefits. Financial jobs are few. “The economy?” Noel asks between bites of a bison burger in a tiny diner. “You just don’t know if it’s ever going to come back. We may never have it so good again.”

When the Census Bureau offered him a part-time job mapping houses nearly an hour from his Windham home, Noel jumped at it. The money, between $10 and $25 per hour plus 55 cents per mile, was a big factor. But Noel said he also wanted to be part of a larger community effort, and the 2010 Census is nothing if not a large community effort.

When the first numbers are released in December 2010, the Census Bureau will have spent more than $11 billion and hired about 1.2 million temporary employees. The government conducts its Census every decade to determine the number of congressional seats assigned to each state, but the figures collected also help the government decide where to spend billions of dollars for the poor and disabled, where to build new schools and prisons, and how state legislative boundaries should be designed.

It hasn’t been the perfect job — that would be a full-time position with benefits — but Noel says the Census job worked out well. It eased the pain of being unemployed, giving him something to do, and made him realize his entire life doesn’t have to be about financial management.

“It’s just statistics,” said Noel, “but it’s important.”

But last week, he was unemployed again, a victim of the Census Bureau’s efficiency. Since the government was able to draw from a well-qualified but mostly out-of-work pool of applicants, the work done by more than 140,000 field employees went far more quickly than expected.

“We’ve always done well, but this time around was amazing,” said Stephen L. Buckner, a Census Bureau spokesman. “It’s a tough economic time.”

For some temporary workers, the outlook is brighter. Ian Gunn spent five weeks “being paid to hike. It was great.” Gunn, an 18-year-old high school senior heading to Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute next year to study computer science, hopes for a better economy when he graduates, one that offers more security than a series of part-time jobs.

“It’s going to take time,” he said, “but I’ve got four more years.”

Noel, though, is uncertain about the future. It’s possible he’ll be called back to work later in the fall for the final push. The Census Bureau expects to send roughly 1.2 million workers out to count people who don’t return their questionnaires; the hiring will push down unemployment numbers for several months during that period.

For now, Noel says, he and his wife are living without frills. He looks for another job and she runs Green Mountain Chef, a catering business near Stratton Mountain. Demand has slowed dramatically since the economic meltdown began, as it has for most tourism-dependent businesses in Vermont.

Noel hopes to avoid being a statistic for too long. Unemployment insurance will give him about $425 per week — enough to pay the mortgage, and maybe the health insurance bill. Right now, the couple pays about $280 per month, but that will climb to $850 in September, when his government-subsidized COBRA policy expires.

“I hope something comes up,” he says. “But there’s not an awful lot out there.”

Seeking journalist to cover event in Providence, R.I.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

If any of our readers know a journalist/photographer in or near Providence, Rhode Island who can cover the 2010 Census-related portion of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, it would be greatly appreciated if you could have that person contact us. We will reimburse the attending journalist for food/travel costs. See the press release below for details of the event that we would like covered:

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN, SR. WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR JARRETT ATTENDING MAYORS’ ANNUAL GATHERING JUNE 12 – 15 ~ PROVIDENCE, RI

WASHINGTON, June 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Vice President Joe Biden, Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Attorney General Eric Holder, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Office of National Drug Control Director Gil Kerlikowske, Alaska Senator Mark Begich, Congressional Urban Caucus Chair Chaka Fattah (PA), Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and Mexico Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan are confirmed for the 77th Annual Meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors in Providence (RI) from Friday, June 12th to Monday, June 15th.

The Conference of Mayors has been working with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to establish an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) Resource Center where mayors and city staff can meet with federal staff managing the various ARRA programs to seek guidance on federal stimulus funding implementation.

Led by Conference President and Miami (FL) Mayor Manny Diaz and hosted by Providence Mayor David Cicilline, this event is the largest annual gathering of U.S. mayors. In addition to Recovery Act implementation, the meeting will also highlight illegal guns and gun violence, energy independence, education and the 2010 Census. At the culmination of the meeting, mayors will debate and vote on national policy recommendations to forward to Congress and the new Administration.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his cabinet have been invited. An advance DRAFT agenda is also posted at www.usmayors.org. All CREDENTIALED press wishing to attend should pre-register VIA THE USCM WEBSITE to gain access to the meeting.

WHAT: Hundreds of U.S. Mayors to Attend USCM 77th Annual Meeting

WHEN: Friday, June 12th – Monday, June 15th

WHERE: The Rhode Island Convention Center

One Sabin Street

Providence, RI 02903

401-458-6000

Judicial Watch vs. ACORN

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

MyTwoCensus will report more on this story throughout the weekend. For now, here is a press release from right-leaning watchdog organization Judicial Watch detailing their current investigation of left-leaning ACORN:

Judicial Watch Obtains Obama Commerce Department Documents Detailing ACORN Partnership for 2010 Census

Contact Information:
Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305

Washington, DC — May 28, 2009

Census Bureau refuses to partner with “Hate Groups, Law Enforcement, Anti-Immigrant Groups”

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the U.S. Census Bureau detailing the substantial involvement of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in the 2010 Census. Included among the 126 pages of documents, obtained by Judicial Watch under threat of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, is ACORN’s original Census partnership application. The document describes 18 different areas of responsibility requested by the community organization, which is under investigation in multiple states for illegal activity during the 2008 election, including voter registration fraud.

The documents also list the types of organizations ineligible for partnering with the U.S. Census. They include: “…Hate groups, Law enforcement, anti-immigrant groups, any groups that might make people fearful of participating in the Census…” The release of these Obama Commerce Department documents comes in the wake of an Obama Department of Homeland Security report released in April linking opposition to illegal immigration to “rightwing extremist radicalization.”

In its official statement responding to the ACORN controversy, the Obama Commerce Department downplayed ACORN’s participation in the Census, and labeled “baseless” the notion that ACORN would be involved in any Census count. However, the Census Bureau offered ACORN the opportunity to “recruit Census workers” who would participate in the count. Moreover, as an “executive level” partner, ACORN has the ability to “organize and/or serve as a member on a Complete Count Committee,” which, according to Census documents, helps “develop and implement locally based outreach and recruitment campaigns.”

According to its application ACORN also signed up to: “Encourage employees and constituents to complete and mail their questionnaire; identify job candidates and/or distribute and display recruiting materials; appoint a liaison to work with the Census Bureau; provide space for Be Counted sites and/or Questionnaire Assistance Centers; sponsor community events to promote participation in the 2010 Census,” among 18 requested areas of responsibility. The documents also show the decision to add ACORN as a partner occurred in February, long after the January 15th Census partnership application deadline. (One Census official had bet “it was under Bush.”)

Among other conclusions from the documents:

  • The Census Bureau requested that ACORN “help us highlight [ACORN's] innovation and hard work and share best practices so other organizations can learn from your experiences.”
  • Members of the Census Bureau and Department of Commerce staff assigned to organize the 2010 Census were unaware of when the decision to involve ACORN was made, how the Census Bureau choose and defined partners, or whether partners received payment.
  • The Census Bureau did not conduct background checks on the 3.7 million people hired to conduct the 2000 Census, unless a preliminary name check provided a match. Overall, 8% of the applicants, or over 300,000 people, were considered risks for hire.

According to the U.S. Census documents, among other things, census data is used to allocate $300 billion in federal funds. Census data also “determines how many seats each state will have in the House of Representatives as well as the redistricting of state legislatures, county and city councils, and voting districts.”

“Given its history of illegal activity and fraud, ACORN should be nowhere near the 2010 Census,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And shame on the Obama Commerce Department for continuing to demonize conservatives by lumping together law enforcement and anti-immigration groups with ‘hate groups.’ This discriminatory policy raises First Amendment concerns. Indeed, these documents provide further evidence that the Obama administration is politicizing the 2010 Census.”

Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Census on March 23, 2009. After the Obama Commerce Department stonewalled, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on May 14, 2009. The documents were released to Judicial Watch on May 15, 2009.

Update: The Congressional Letter to the OMB re: Same-Sex Marriage

Friday, May 29th, 2009

We apologize for our earlier technical issues from the past 24 hours. Now, for this MyTwoCensus exclusive, please find a scanned copy of the original letter here:

Click to download the PDF file of the letter sent to the OMB from members of Congress that pushes for gay marriages to be recognized during the 2010 Census!

Confirmation Showdown: The McHenry Memo

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

This was leaked to MyTwoCensus from a Congressional insider:

mchenry-letter1-793x10241

Troubles in Rural America

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

By Reynolds Farley, Ph.D.

I worked as a crew leader for address canvassing from March 23 to May 7. Reflecting the economy, five of the 18 members of my crew had post bachelor’s degrees. Several had given up lower-paying jobs to canvass for the Census Bureau. All had been told that they would have six to eight weeks of work. Canvassing took place from April 17 through May 6.

Our area was a rural one with numerous lakes and isolated homesteads not visible from unpaved roads. In many places, dirt roads lacked names, homes lacked numbers and residents claimed that the post office did not deliver their mail. The vehicles of three canvassers became stuck in mud. Maps on the hand-held computers bore no more than a remote relationship to what we found. Quite often we came upon an array of a dozen or two mailboxes sitting side-by-side at the end of a dirt lane. Some had numbers, some did not. Then there would be a dozen or two homes scattered about a lake, an estuary or a river front. Matching numbers with residences was extremely time consuming, if possible.

Address canvassing went well from April 17 through May 1. Our local census office was located in a suburban area adjoining a major metropolis. Officials there appeared to be unfamiliar with canvassing in a remote rural area. We were told that our district was the only one in the local census office not completed by the week-end of May 2.

Rather than letting us work for another week to finish the job competently, canvassers from urban areas were sent to our area in great numbers and at considerable cost. There appeared to be no interest at all in quality control. The emphasis was solely upon completing the canvassing before an arbitrary deadline.

The canvassers who started with this crew believed they would be employed for six to eight weeks worked three weeks at most. I suspect that the very many new canvassers who were sent in to complete the area had little, if any, familiarity with the rural area where we worked.For my entire career, I have used U.S. Census data in my teaching and research. The area we canvassed is one in which no address list could be complete and accurate. The canvassers working with me were serious and cautious. Two-thirds of the area was competently canvassed. One-third of the 29,000 address lines were canvassed in extreme haste implying that several hundred housing units may not receive a questionnaire when they are mailed next March 17. I hope that this emphasis upon speed rather than quality was a rare happening.

I had the good fortune of working with many excellent an dedicated canvassers in this brief period and a very competent Field Operations Supervision. I am, however, less sure about the dedication of some higher level local census office administrators to the important issues of minimizing undercount in the 2010 Census by getting an excellent address list.

Dr. Reynolds Farley is Professor Emeritus at the Population Studies Center and Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan, where he served as Chairman of the Sociology Department. Dr. Farley’s research interests concern population trends in the United States, focusing on racial differences, ethnicity, and urban structure. A recognized leader among social scientists who study race relations in the United States, Reynolds Farley is among the top echelon of social demographers, a leading authority on the demography of African Americans, and a penetrating and creative analyst of racial and ethnic relations over the past 40 years. His pioneering studies of the causes and implications of massive and continuing racial segregation have enlightened the national discourse on social policies concerning families, welfare, health and education. His current work includes an investigation of the residential consequences of revitalization in the Rust Belt. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and first worked for the Census Bureau in 1962.

Live-blogging Philadelphia’s 2010 Census hearing…

Monday, May 11th, 2009

12:57 – 25 people at this meeting…poor turnout…90% work for the Census Bureau…Sen. Carper not here…will it start on time?

1:04 – Sen. Carper doing introductions…he shook my hand and introduced himself earlier.

1:05 – Sen. Carper discussing stats about 1.4 million Americans working for Census Bureau (largest peacetime hiring effort)

1:06 -  6 million people missed in 2000 count. 1.3 million people counted twice.

1:07 – Hispanics miscounted 4 times as often as whites in 2000 says Carper

1:08 – Mayor Nutter going to speak…he’s in a rush and has to leave in 10 min.

1:10 – Michael Nutter says Philly will lose $2,300 per person not counted in 2010 Census

1:12 – Challenges for Philly: Locating households, encouraging people to return their forms…accurate address listings from US Postal service very important.

1:13 – Nutter: Master list doesn’t have 56,000 addresses that Philly City Gvnt reviewed and updated for Postal Service

1:15 – Nutter: Afro-Americans disproportionately represented in economically disadvantaged and Latinos in linguistically challenged areas

1:15 – Linguistic issues must be addressed by Census Bureau. INS and deportation issues must be addressed.

1:16 – improve response rate: 1. issue exec order 2. city-wide campaign 3. establish multicultural network

1:17 – Only through raising public consciousness that we can make this work – Nutter says his office will help out.

1:17 – Nutter leaves, Sen. Carper thanks Nutter

1:18- 3 minute video will be shown now…forgot my popcorn

1:19 – This is the same propaganda video stuff that’s available on YouTube on the Census Bureau’s channel…but informative!

1:21 – Still awake, still here…they’re playing sentimental “a photograph, a portrait of hopes and dreams” theme song…is Sen. Carper shedding a tear?

1:23 – De. Congressman Castle talking…discussing differences between allocating $ based on population rather than earmarks and pork legislation etc.

1:26 – Boring Del. Congressman Castle talking about why people don’t respond…this is called preaching to the choir, everyone here works for the Census Bureau

1:30 – Now Mayor Baker of Wilmington is speaking…making jokes, got no laughs

1:33 – 50% of Wilmington residents live in rented homes…this=bigger problems for counting.

1:34 – Mayor Baker thinks door to door messaging is important…like political campaigns.

1:36 – They make Joe Biden jokes about talking off the cuff…

1:37 – Baker says, “Who cares what Rush Limbaugh and FoxNews think” now that they’re in the minority…

1:38 – Baker makes more jokes and finishes his statement. Back to Sen. Carper…

1:39 – Philadelphia Managing Director Camille Cates Barnett is speaking…really sad story about her: http://www.kyw1060.com/pages/1430697.php?

1:40 – Barnett: Census data helps draw City Council districts…she cites 2007 Brookings study – $377 billion allocated based on 2010 Census

1:41 – Barnett: For every person we miss counting, $2,263 in funding lost…

1:44 – Barnett whips out 1 page strategic plan for Philly census…

1:45 – Add 75,000 residents in the next 5-10 years=Goal for City of Philly

1:46 – Since 2000 Philly has added 22,000 converted housing units…56,000 additional addressees have been handed over to Census Bureau from Philly.

1:48 – Economic downturn=people get displaced…complicates counting process.

1:49 – Only 23% of AfroAmerican Philadelphians have high school diplomas and 13% have college degrees.

1:52- Barnett repeats every single thing Mayor Nutter already said…eyelids shutting…

1:53 – Barnett finished with positive message…back to Sen. Tom Carper

1:55 – Carper asks Barnett what she learned from 1990 and 2000 Census.

1:56 – Barnett says major issue in previous Census operations=accurately ensuring population growth is properly recorded

1:59 – Congressman Castle talking about working with clergy…he references US Marshalls getting ministers to have criminals confess.

2:01 – Castle asks if clergy can be of help to get people out…Barnett talks about faith-based groups for outreach.

2:03 – Congressman Castle asks how landlords can help w/ Census. He admits he doesn’t know the legality of this.

2:05 – yadda yadda yadda – hopefully MyTwoCensus gets to ask some HARD-HITTING QUESTIONS. EVERYONE is falling asleep (woman next to me)

2:13- Carper’s aide just passed him a note…he’s now ending with Barnett and Baker…maybe abruptly ending mtg?

2:16 – New panel now on the Dais — Tom Mesoundbourg (acting Census Director) speaking…invoking founding fathers. Also on the Dais now: - Pat Coulter, Executive Director, Philadelphia Urban League

- Norman Bristol-Colon, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, State of Pennsylvania

- Wanda M. Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

2:20 – Mesounbourg LIES! he says operations are going smoothly and address canvassing in philly almost done! – (THE INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT FROM MAY 09 DISAGREES) READ THE MOST RECENT UPDATE: http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/census_bureau/

2:25: Mesounbourg concludes “Our operations are not intended to count many of us, they are intended to count all of us.”

2:26 – Norman Bristol Colon now talking…he has a heavy Latino accent…hard to understand!

2:27 – More Puerto Ricans living in USA than in Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

2:30 – Colon urges Census Bureau to have a plan to count undocumented and documented residents in the same way and counts EVERYONE.

2:31 – Colon insists that Census data remains private and is not released to the INS or other immigration officials.

2:33 – This is pretty much turning into a pro-immigration rally…Colon passionately speaking…only 20 people remain in the room here.

2:34 – Colon says that redistricting will help Latino populations so they can have more representation in gvnt.

2:36 – Colon finished speaking…now hearing from Pat Coulter, head of Urban League Philly – Urban League and Census Bureau have worked together since 1970.

2:37 – Coulter just quoted Dick Polman, my journalism Professor at Penn!

2:38 – Here’s the article Coulter quoted from: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/americandebate/Head_counts_and_head_cases.html

2:42 – Coulter finished speaking, now last but not least, Wanda Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

2:46 – Wanda Lopez is very well spoken, but unfortunately no new information added.

2:49 – Congressman Castle asking questions then “calling it a day” as Sen. Carper put it.

2:53 – Congressman Castle asks if celebrities can do public announcements to promote the Census…Director Mesenbourg says the Bureau is pursuing this.

2:54 – Mesenbourg says a PR firm has been hired to do this…which firm is this? Coulter mentions Oprah as possible spokeswoman.

2:55 – Wanda Lopez suggests using local radio in addition to ads on Univision.

2:56 – Castle thanks panel. Carper ending mtg. now…NO HARD-HITTING ISSUES ADDRESSED!

2:57 – Carper says President and First Lady and possibly Sasha and Malia could be used to promote 2010 Census…Wondering: Will they be counted in Chicago or DC?

2:58 – Carper acknowledges problems with handheld computers and asks Mesenbourg to weigh in on correction of problems.

2:59 – Mesenbourg: Handheld only used for address canvassing NOT the non-response follow-up operation in May 2010. Too risky to do that he says

3:01 – 8 million addresses given to Census Bureau from state/local gvnts says Mesenbourg

3:02 – “introduced risk mitigation strategies” – aka 5 different strategies to reduce risk for address canvassing…

3:03 – Mesenbourg says in this economy only 12% of hired applicants didnt show up once they were hired.

3:03 – This explains why we are so far aheadin our address canvassing operation…”highly skilled work force” enables us to finish operation earlier than planned.

3:04 – Carper addresses the Inspector General’s report from earlier to Mesenbourg about failures that we mentioned earlier (top article on http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/census_bureau/)

3:05 – Mesenbourg acknowledges that in 6 out of 15 locations that Inspector General visited, the Census Bureau employees were not following orders.

3:06 – Mesenbourg deflects the criticism that Carper addressed — saying that all employees received a text message on their handhelds to follow procedures more closely.

3:08 – Sen. Carper asks more hard-hitting questions (finally)! Impressed that he addressed these issues, though not satisfied w/ responses…

3:13 – Closing statements from Castle and Carper before they “call it a day.”

3:14 – Carper quotes Richard Nixon: “The only people who don’t make mistakes are the people who don’t do anything.”

3:15 – Carper says his office was originally worried about lack of technology used in this headcount, but his fears have now been alleviated.

3:17 – Carper thanks everyone who joined us and Census Bureau staff. Carper quotes Lamar Alexander “hearings should be called talkings.”

Robert M. Groves’ Senate questionnaire

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

The Associated Press obtained a copy of Census Director-to-be Robert M. Groves’ 41-page questionnaire that was required in preparation for his upcoming Senate confirmation hearing. MyTwoCensus has made requests to obtain this document so that we may analyze it in full. For now, here are the most interesting tidbits:

1. Groves defended his push for statistical sampling in the 1990 census to make up for an undercount of millions of mostly minorities, who tend to vote for Democrats — a move that was then decried by the Republican commerce secretary as political tampering.

2. While Groves said the use of sampling in 2010 was unlikely given the little time remaining, he would not say whether he would support other measures such as a government halt to immigration raids. “I will work with all agencies of government to assure the best census this country can achieve,” Groves wrote when asked if he would seek to scale back enforcement.

3. On matters of science, Groves was unequivocal. “The White House can have no role,” he said. “If the director is perceived to be a pawn of one or another political ideological perspective, the credibility of the statistical system is threatened.”

4. Groves said if he encounters undue partisan interference from the White House or elsewhere that he cannot resist, “I will resign and work outside the system to stop the abuse.”

5. In his questionnaire, Groves cast the Census Bureau as woefully outdated, saying it lacks scientific talent due to a recent and upcoming wave of retirements.

6. In his questionnaire, Groves acknowledged he lacked extensive management experience to run the bureau’s sprawling operations but said he was up to the task.

ACORN’s back (in the spotlight) and its better than ever…

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

We knew that it was too good to be true that we’ve gone through a few ACORN-less weeks. We didn’t hold our breath. Ostensibly, within the next 24 hours, the GOP will be back on the hunt for ACORN’s blood and the left will be dismissive of this “community group’s” abilities to harm the 2010 Census. Nowadays, simply uttering the word ACORN creates the extreme partisanship that is detrimental to obtaining the main goal of the 2010 Census: Obtaining an accurate count.

ACORN has been indicted in Nevada, so here we go again…Here’s the scoop from the Associated Press:

Nevada charges ACORN illegally paid to sign voters

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada authorities filed criminal charges Monday against the political advocacy group ACORN and two former employees, alleging they illegally paid canvassers to sign up new voters during last year’s presidential campaign.

ACORN denied the charges and said it would defend itself in court.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now had a handbook and policies requiring employees in Las Vegas to sign up 20 new voters per day to keep their $8- to $9-per-hour jobs.

Canvassers who turned in 21 new voter registrations earned a “blackjack” bonus of $5 per shift, Masto added. Those who didn’t meet the minimum were fired.

“By structuring employment and compensation around a quota system, ACORN facilitated voter registration fraud,” Masto said. She accused ACORN executives of hiding behind and blaming employees, and vowed to hold the national nonprofit corporation accountable for training manuals that she said “clearly detail, condone and … require illegal acts.”

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller emphasized the case involved “registration fraud, not voter fraud,” and insisted that no voters in Nevada were paid for votes and no unqualified voters were allowed to cast ballots.

Law enforcement agencies in about a dozen states investigated fake voter registration cards submitted by ACORN during the 2008 presidential election campaign, but Nevada is the first to bring charges against the organization, ACORN officials said.

ACORN has said the bogus cards listing such names as “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck” represented less than 1 percent of the 1.3 million collected nationally and were completed by lazy workers trying to get out of canvassing neighborhoods. The organization has said it notified election officials whenever such bogus registrations were suspected.

ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson denied the Nevada allegations on behalf of ACORN, which works to get low-income people to vote and lists offices in 41 states and the District of Columbia. He blamed former rogue employees for the alleged wrongdoing.

“Our policy all along has been to pay workers at an hourly rate and to not pay employees based on any bonus or incentive program,” he said. “When it was discovered that an employee was offering bonuses linked to superior performance, that employee was ordered to stop immediately.”

Levenson said the two former ACORN organizers named in Monday’s criminal complaint — Christopher Howell Edwards and Amy Adele Busefink — no longer work for ACORN and would not be represented by the organization.

Edwards, 33, of Gilroy, Calif., and Busefink, 26, of Seminole, Fla., could not immediately be reached for comment.

Masto identified Edwards as the ACORN Las Vegas office field director in 2008, and said timesheets indicate that ACORN corporate officers were aware of the “blackjack” bonus program and failed to stop it. The attorney general said Busefink was ACORN’s deputy regional director.

The complaint filed in Las Vegas Justice Court accuses ACORN and Edwards each of 13 counts of compensation for registration of voters, and Busefink of 13 counts of principle to the crime of compensation for registration of voters. Each charge carries the possibility of probation or less than 1 year in jail, Masto said.

A court hearing was scheduled June 3 in Las Vegas, prosecutor Conrad Hafen said.

Census Through The Back Door

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Another partisan fight may soon take place over who should run the Census Bureau as former Clintonista Census Director and current Columbia University professor Kenneth Prewitt is now back on the federal payroll, this time as a consultant for the 2010 headcount. Will Prewitt’s presence get lost amongst this week’s grumblings from the GOP or will it become a consistent Republican talking point?

Remember folks, Census Director-designate Robert M. Groves’ confirmation hearing is only 1 week away (May 6), so bring out the popcorn as this could potentially get nasty…

Check out the full report from The National Journal:

GOP Protests New Census Consultant

By CARRIE DANN

Former Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt will become involved with the 2010 decennial count as the agency’s part-time consultant, the Commerce Department confirmed today. Prewitt, a Clinton-era appointee who ran the bureau from 1998-2001, was widely considered to be a frontrunner to return to the post in advance of next year’s population count but withdrew his name from consideration earlier this year.

President Obama nominated another former bureau official, Robert Groves, earlier this month to fill the post instead. Now a professor at Columbia University, Prewitt will work “a couple days a week” with bureau officials to troubleshoot problems that arise as the nation’s largest peacetime mobilization effort gets underway, said Commerce Department spokesman Nick Kimball.

House Republicans, who have raised concerns that the potentially controversial headcount will be unduly influenced by the White House, have drafted a letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to object to Prewitt’s “back door entry” to the bureau without going through the Senate confirmation process. Democrats scoffed at the complaint, pointing out that it is hardly uncommon for former federal officials to offer expertise on a part-time basis. “Considering former Secretary [Carlos] Gutierrez used [Prewitt] as a consultant, too, you have to ask why the Republicans are in such a tizzy,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. Groves’ Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for May 6.

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