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 ‘Baltimore’

Crew leader shot and killed in #Baltimore

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

This is a tragedy. H/t to Carol Morello of The Washington Post for the following:

A Baltimore man who was working for the Census Bureau has died after being shot while dropping off a co-worker — the first killing of a Census worker on the job this year.

Spencer Williams, 22, died Friday after being shot June 7, according to Baltimore police. He was found inside his car, resting in the median near an intersection, and had multiple gunshot wounds, police said.

Williams was a crew leader responsible for a group of census takers doing follow-up visits to the homes of people who did not mail in their questionnaire by April. Census Bureau spokesman Steven J. Jost said Williams was returning home after driving a co-worker home at the end of the day and was considered to still be on the job. Police and Census officials said the shooting is not believed to be related to the agency’s work.

Since follow-up house calls began in late April, there have been 252 incidents in which Census workers have been harmed or threatened, including 11 times when shots were fired at them and 86 times when they were threatened with such weapons as guns, axes and crossbows.

Let’s hope the person who did this is caught and brought to justice.

Security Alert: Haz-Mat teams at Baltimore Census processing facility…again.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

From the Baltimore Sun…too bad this plot line never made it into The Wire:

Suspicious powder was found this morning at a processing center of the U.S. Census Bureau in Essex, though it was found to be harmless.

The Baltimore County police and fire departments were called around 10 a.m. to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Data Capture Center, in the 8400 block of Kelso Drive, to examine a package containing a small amount of powder, said Elise Armacost, the fire department spokeswoman.

“We did not evacuate the building, no one was showing symptoms, there were no transports,” Armacost said. “People were removed from the immediate vicinity while we were testing.”

The substance was deemed non-threatening, Armacost said.

The plant — which processes 2010 Census questionnaires as they are returned — resumed operations by early afternoon, said Markia McLeod, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau.

McLeod said that Baltimore County Hazmat teams have responded to the Essex facility for six incidents since it opened last year. The last time was in March, when powder found inside a census envelope turned out to be coffee creamer.

– Erica L. Green

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

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MyTwoCensus Investigation Part 2: The Smoking Gun Audio Files

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

After MyTwoCensus investigators were tipped off about the lax hiring procedures at the nation’s three data capture centers, we decided to call some of the people involved in the hiring process to verify that it was still okay to be hired to work at one of these centers  (that process significant amounts of private/sensitive information) if one had misdemeanor convictions, drug problems, and was awaiting the outcome of a felony charge…The answer: Despite these issues, you’re good to be hired!

On the following call from Baltimore, we intentionally blocked out our operative’s voice to shield his identity. On the line you will here Tiera Dorsey, an employee of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s office who is responsible for helping people to find jobs. Let’s go to the audio recording:

Baltimore Recording

TRANSCRIPT:

Tiera Dorsey: Miss Dorsey.

TD: Okay, who am I speaking with, sir?

TD: Okay, are you talking about working at the Census or working at the Baltimore Data Capture Center?

TD: Okay, you need to go to their web site. You ready? J-O-B-S-T-H-A-T-C-O-U-N-T-dot-O-R-G.

TD: Oh, they don’t drug test there. There they don’t. The Baltimore Data Capture don’t drug test.

TD: They go case by case with misdemeanors.

TD: Ohhhhh, I do know that when they did the presentation here they said felonies, their not going to hire people with felonies, but if you wasn’t convicted then it shouldn’t come up right?

TD: Okay. Because I’m not the employer. Bye.

MyTwoCensus Investigation Part 1: Security Concerns At Data Processing Centers

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Background: The United States Census Bureau will be operating three data capture centers to process the information collected from the approximately 300 million Americans who will be counted in the 2010 Census. These data capture centers are located in Baltimore (Maryland), Jeffersonville (Indiana), and Phoenix (Arizona).

After speaking with human resources professionals who have significant knowledge of US government and subcontractor practices, MyTwoCensus is concerned that the screening processes for people who will have access to highly sensitive information is inadequate.

Here are the criteria for employment at the Baltimore data capture center, which is ostensibly similar to the procedures at the other facilities as well:

Job Title: SCA General Clerk I – Paper Data Processing
City: Essex
State/Province: Maryland
Post Type: Full-Time/Part-Time
Requirements: There are basic requirements for BDCC employment which include:

• U.S. citizenship with documentation or Permanent Residency status (requires valid documentation from the past 2 years authorizing employment)
• 18 years of age or older
• High school diploma or GED
• English literacy
• No felony convictions
• Submission of personal information and fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a suitability assessment. All applicants are required to meet Department of Commerce suitability requirements before employment.

MyTwoCensus is extremely concerned that mandatory drug tests are not part of the criteria for these positions because of the access to sensitive material that will inevitably come with the job. We are also concerned that the lax “no felony convictions” clause means that people who have been accused of felonies but have plead guilty to misdemeanors will likely be working in these facilities. In Maryland, the following crimes are considered misdemeanors:

  • Driving with a Revoked License
  • Reckless Driving
  • Petty theft
  • Prostitution
  • Public drunkenness
  • Resisting arrest
  • Failure to appear in court
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism

With so many Americans who have no criminal records currently unemployed, it is even more ludicrous that the standards for these positions are so low.

Another major loophole is that recruiters are trying to fill these positions now (September and October), but the jobs won’t actually begin until the spring (after Census Day – April 1, 2010). This means that during the next 6 months, people who pass background checks may surely be involved in criminal activities, but because of the time lag, their employers will likely never be aware of the situation.

It should be noted that the “Baltimore Data Capture Center will be managed by Lockheed Martin. Its subcontractor partner, CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation), will manage the hiring efforts for the 2,500 new employees, most of whom will be hired starting in December of this year.”

The ACORN Investigations Continue…

Friday, September 11th, 2009

We hate to keep beating this story to a bloody pulp, this is yet another day where ACORN has been featured prominently in the news for its wrongdoings. When I woke up this morning, the following story was the #1 headline on CNN.com:

(CNN) — Two employees at the Baltimore, Maryland, branch of the liberal community organizing group ACORN were caught on tape allegedly offering advice to a pair posing as a pimp and prostitute on setting up a prostitution ring and evading the IRS.

The footage, which appears to have been edited in places, was recorded and posted online Thursday.

The footage, which appears to have been edited in places, was recorded and posted online Thursday.

The video footage — which has been edited and goes to black in some areas — was recorded and and posted online Thursday by James O’Keefe, a conservative activist. He was joined on the video by another conservative, Hannah Giles, who posed as the prostitute in the filmmakers’ undercover sting.

The video shows the pair approaching two women working at the ACORN Baltimore office and asking them for advice on how to set up a prostitution ring involving more than a dozen underage girls from El Salvador.

One of the ACORN workers suggests that Giles refer to herself as a “performing artist” on tax forms and declare some of the girls as dependents to receive child tax credits.

“Stop saying prostitution,” the woman, identified by the filmmaker as an ACORN tax expert, tells Giles. The other woman tells them, “You want to keep them clean … make sure they go to school.” Video Watch tape of alleged advice on prostitution »

Both women appear enthusiastic to help.

Calls to ACORN’s Baltimore offices were not immediately returned Thursday. A local spokeswoman told The Associated Press that both employees seen in the video were fired.

“The portrayal is false and defamatory and an attempt at ‘gotcha journalism,’ ” said Scott Levenson, a spokesman at ACORN’s national offices. “This film crew tried to pull this sham at other offices and failed. ACORN wants to see the full video before commenting further.”

The conservative filmmakers unsuccessfully attempted similar ruses at the group’s offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, California, and New York, Levenson said.

Law enforcement officials in the Baltimore area wouldn’t confirm whether they are investigating the alleged incident at the local ACORN office. However, authorities said that under Maryland law, such undercover video may not be admissible in court as evidence.

CNN attempted to reach O’Keefe and Giles; O’Keefe was not available for comment and Giles canceled an interview scheduled for Thursday.

ACORN — an acronym for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — made headlines last year when Republican groups seized on allegations of voter registration fraud by the group in Florida and several other states, claiming its workers were trying to push the election in Barack Obama’s favor.

On Wednesday, arrest warrants were issued for 11 Florida voter registration workers suspected of submitting false information on hundreds of voter registration cards, according to court documents. The Florida investigation was triggered by ACORN officials who noticed irregularities in forms they were receiving.

Census Bureau Opens New Facility In Baltimore

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

The following is a press release I received today from the Census Bureau:

Census Bureau Opens Data Processing Center in Maryland

New 2010 Census facility will create thousands of area jobs

The U.S. Census Bureau today opened one of three data capture centers
that will process the 2010 Census questionnaires as they are mailed back by
households across the nation. The 236,500-square-foot facility will bring
more than 2,500 jobs to Baltimore County, Md.

“Processing the 2010 Census questionnaires accurately and safely at the
data capture centers is a crucial step to a successful census,” said Census
Bureau Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg.  “The data from each form processed
at the facility will help provide a complete count of the nation’s
population and a new portrait of America.”

The Baltimore Data Capture Center is expected to process about 40
percent of the census forms mailed back by respondents. The remaining forms
will be sent to the Census Bureau’s National Processing Center in
Jeffersonville, Ind., and the data capture center in Phoenix, which is set
to open in November. The 2010 Census forms will be mailed in March, and the
majority of the data processing will occur between March and July.

The Baltimore Data Capture Center will be managed by Lockheed Martin.
Its subcontractor partner, CSC, will manage the hiring efforts for the
2,500 new employees, most of whom will be hired starting in December of
this year. Each worker will take an oath for life to keep census
information confidential. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share
respondents’ answers with any other government or law enforcement agency.
Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and
five years in prison.

The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and
is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data are used to distribute
congressional seats to states and to allocate more than $300 billion in
federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year. The 2010
Census questionnaire will be one of the shortest in history, consisting of
10 questions and taking about 10 minutes to complete.