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.

Posts Tagged ‘$200 million’

Freedom Of Information Act Request Granted? Nah, Not Really

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Without sounding preachy, if there’s one underlying goal of MyTwoCensus.com, it is to bring more transparency and knowledge about the 2010 Census to the people of the United States of America. One way that we seek to accomplish this goal is by making Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain information that is not available to the public. One such investigation that produced FOIA requests related to the $200 million 2010 Census media contract with Draftfcb, GlobalHue, and other firms involved with the 2010 Census advertising and marketing efforts. We were initially thrilled last Thursday morning when we finally received copies of the information that we requested. However, all is not hunky-dory in Censusland. Out of the 132 pages that were sent to us, 60 pages contained segments that were partially or fully redacted. Thus, our ongoing analysis of this contract will not ever be as complete as it could possibly be. All of this information has been redacted under FOIA clause (b)(4):

Exemption 4

Exemption 4 of the FOIA protects “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential.” (1) This exemption is intended to protect the interests of both the government and submitters of information. Its very existence encourages submitters to voluntarily furnish useful commercial or financial information to the government and it correspondingly provides the government with an assurance that such information will be reliable. The exemption also affords protection to those submitters who are required to furnish commercial or financial information to the government by safeguarding them from the competitive disadvantages that could result from disclosure. (2) The exemption covers two broad categories of information in federal agency records: (1) trade secrets; and (2) information that is (a) commercial or financial, and (b) obtained from a person, and (c) privileged or confidential.

PART1--- Outgoing Final Response 09-209 8-12-09.pdf (page 1 of 36)

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus Investigation: Scammers Running The 2010 Census Ad Campaign

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus has been informed that Jay Waite, deputy director of the US Census Bureau, was also involved in procuring these contracts. According to his biography, “Waite is the visionary and architect of the 2010 reengineered census. Using hand-held computers for data collection, a major expansion of technology, will dramatically change the way censuses will be conducted for decades to come.”

Well, what scandal have we stumbled upon this time?

Upon doing some further research into DraftFCB’s massive $200 million advertising/media contract with the Census Bureau, I learned that this firm’s parent company, Interpublic Group was forced to pay a $12 million fine to the SEC for accounting fraud in 2008 and also owns a 49% stake in GlobalHue, an ethnic media PR firm that has been assigned to do the Latino/African-American outreach for the 2010 Census. But back in March of this year, GlobalHue was accused of overbilling the Bermudan government by $1.8 million on a $13 million contract. The Bermudans claim that GlobalHue:

    • Overbilled the account by $1.8 million.
    • Prebilled the government in violation of its own rules.
    • Didn’t keep invoices and billing records.
    • Didn’t return discounts and credits to the client.
    • Used a media buyer, Cornerstone, that charged commissions of  up to 181 percent.

    Have similar problems been going on in America with little oversight? Maybe the GAO and IG’s offices will soon let us know! (For now, click here to download the original accusations from Bermuda. H/t to Jim Edwards of BNET for providing these docs.)

    An confidential source informed MyTwoCensus that New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office had quite the hand in procuring this contract for DraftFCB/Interpublic Group/GlobalHue (ironically she accused the Bush administration of trying to sabotage the 2010 Census), so tomorrow we’re going to give them a call to learn more information. Additionally, Steven J. Jost, the Census Bureau’s new Communications Director (he also served in this role when Ken Prewitt ran the Census Bureau during the later Clinton years), has significant ties to Maloney’s office.

    MyTwoCensus has a pending FOIA request to obtain the details of these contracts.

    *As this is an ongoing investigation, MyTwoCensus asks for any individual with further information about this case to please come forward. We remind our readers that we maintain  full confidentiality with our sources in all circumstances.