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 ‘Census Bureau’

MyTwoCensus has some competition in the blogosphere…

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves has been blogging more frequently as of late. However, from the syntax of the blog, we suspect that this is really being written by a PR team…Check out the “Director’s Blog” HERE.

The Scope Of An Advertising/Marketing Flop…

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The Nielsen Ratings are crap. Seriously. These ratings are the results of an antiquated system that relies on statistics from 5,000 Americans to represent more than 300,000,000 Americans. However, YouTube has provided many, many, statistics for the common man (not just the stat-heads over at Census Bureau’s HQ in Suitland, Maryland). So, let us delve into the US Census Bureau’s YouTube channel to see just how few people have watched the ads that have been created for the 2010 Census:

Thus far, the Census Bureau has posted 63 YouTube videos for the 2010 Census. The first video (the boringly iconic “Portrait of America” clip) was posted 10 months ago and the most recent addition (a hip-hop music video geared toward young urbanites)  was posted two days ago. The Portrait of America video has just over 6,500 hits…which would sound pretty pathetic for a 10 month campaign if only it wasn’t revealed that the other six videos posted 10 months ago each received between 347 and 1,305 hits. In the series of videos posted 6 months ago, the most widely-watched video, about the address-canvassing operations, has been viewed a measly 1,083 times. (This means that only a tiny fraction of the workers involved in this process even watched the video…)

Sadly, Census Director Robert M. Groves has not become the YouTube phenom he wished to be, as his four-part panel discussion and swearing in ceremony clips received only 264, 124, 92, 120, and 285 views respectively (over the course of 6 months!!!). If Dr. Groves were trying to make it on network TV, he would have been canned lightyears before Conan…

And most pathetic are the efforts of the Census Bureau to reach out to minority communities…Video testimonials by members of minority communities that were posted 5 months ago have received between 33 and 258 views…and the majority of these videos have been viewed less than 100 times each! Even if the Census Bureau’s own employees who are representing the minority groups (partnership specialists) had viewed their own videos, there should be more views than what is represented on YouTube!

Final Analysis from an untrained marketing expert: As of February 8, 2010, this ad campaign is a colossal failure!

Calendar of road tour stops

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

One of our commenters wrote last week that the Census Bureau should release a full schedule of stops for its Portrait of America Road Tour to promote the census — and it looks like one is finally up.

The color-coded calendar, which also includes other Census Bureau events, is available from the Bureau’s web site, and syncs with iCal, Outlook and Google Calendar. It’s also available via RSS.

You can also follow the locations of the road tour vehicles on Twitter.

Census advertising campaign begins Sunday (VIDEO)

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

We have a few of the advertising spots from the ad campaign for the 2010 Census.

The Census Bureau‘s first advertising spot will air during the Golden Globe Awards Sunday night.

Here are some of the ads, courtesy of the Washington Post, Advertising Age and Ad Week.

Mail It Back:

The Announcement:

Next 10 Years:

Let us know what you think in the comments, and we’ll have more ads and analysis over the next few weeks.

Census Bureau to roll out ad campaign tomorrow

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

The Census Bureau is unveiling its $133-million advertising campaign tomorrow.

A Washington, D.C., event hosted by CBS sports broadcaster James Brown will kickoff the campaign, which includes television, radio, print, online and outdoor advertisements.

USA Today has a preview of what we’ll see from the Bureau’s ads in the coming weeks:

Today, the Census Bureau unveils a $133 million national advertising campaign that will debut at 9:15 p.m. ET Sunday during the Golden Globe Awards on NBC.

The money is part of $340 million the government is spending to promote the Census this year, including more than $70 million for ads targeting Hispanic, black, Asian and other ethnic markets.

The campaign chiefly targets the 84% of the U.S. population that consumes English-language media, but ads on billboards, radio and TV and in magazines and newspapers will circulate in 27 other languages.

The first of five TV ads directed by actor/writer Christopher Guest (This is Spinal Tap,Best in Show) showcases Guest’s signature style — using dry wit to showcase life’s absurdities.

In the first ad airing Sunday, a film director played by Ed Begley Jr. announces with dramatic flourish his latest ambitious project: Creating a portrait of “every man, woman and child in this beautiful country of ours.” The ad ends with two people whispering: “Isn’t that what the Census is doing?”

The campaign will feature different themes, says Jeff Tarakajian, executive vice president at Draftfcb, the lead ad agency, which is working with subcontractors who specialize in specific ethnic groups.

One theme is “10 questions, 10 minutes” to highlight the ease of filling out the form.

Another ad will have a crowd cheering as someone walks to a mailbox to send in the form.

Cincinnati, Census Bureau disagree about addresses

Monday, January 11th, 2010

A bit of controversy is brewing in Cincinnati, as city officials are urging the Census Bureau to mail census forms to addresses that the Bureau claims do not exist. The Bureau removed thousands of Cincinnati addresses from its master address file — which should include every housing unit in the United States — but the city says some of those addresses are valid.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:

After canvassing every neighborhood and allowing local governments to give input, Cincinnati says the Census Bureau took out 12,534 addresses in the city – many of them without explanation. City officials believe at least 3,063 addresses are valid, and want them put back.

“The effort to get an accurate count begins with the address check, with that master list of addresses, making sure that the census has all the information that we as a city have about where people live,” said Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, who heads a census task force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

And according to the newspaper, Cincinnati is far from the only municipality to appeal the Census Bureau’s address list:

Cincinnati’s complaint is one of about 2,200 that have been sent to a special appeals panel – twice as many appeals as were filed a decade ago. Those appeals contain 1.7 million addresses.

The government hasn’t released a list of those appeals, but the Boone County Planning Commission also has appealed 1,458 addresses it says are missing: 337 in Florence, nine in Union and 1,112 in unincorporated Boone County.

Philip N. Fulton, the director of the Census Bureau’s appeals staff, said it’s impossible for his staff of 30 people to review each one of those addresses individually. Instead, his staff looks at whether the city has done a “logical, rigorous analysis.” If so, he said, Cincinnati will get the benefit of the doubt.

“(The appeal process) is an effort by Congress to give communities an opportunity to be heard, and it’s in their favor,” he said. “We go into this with the mentality that this local government has a case, otherwise they wouldn’t put so much work into it.”

Cincinnati’s complaint that addresses were removed without explanation is a common one.

“That’s happening all over the country,” Fulton said. “And that factor is leading to more appeals.”

It’s clear that getting a census form to all addresses is crucial for an accurate count. But wasting forms and time on invalid addresses is a poor use of Census Bureau resources. We’ll keep tabs on the outcomes of address file appeals, so let us know about any in your community.

“Negro” has been on census forms for 60 years

Friday, January 8th, 2010

News organizations across the country have reported on the controversy surrounding the word “Negro” on forms for the 2010 Census.

But a Census Bureau official tells NPR that “Negro” has been on the forms since at least 1950.

NPR also reports that 56,175 respondents wrote in “Negro” on their forms in the 2000 Census, even though the word was also included as a response choice.

One of our commenters asked when the Census Bureau last studied the wording for the question, which asks about race, and when we might see some new data. The Bureau told NPR it would examine the effects of removing “Negro” this year.

Tough economy aids search for census workers

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

As Census Bureau director Robert M. Groves said in a conference call last month, the recession is helpful to the Bureau because it means a larger, and more qualified, applicant pool.

The nationwide unemployment rate was 10 percent in November 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (new data is scheduled to be released tomorrow). That number, Time reports, is higher than any census year since 1940.

Time also reports how the Bureau is handling the influx of applications:

In this slow economy, the Census has been overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality of applicants. “We’re getting a lot of people who are professionals, people who have been laid off from the large companies, people with master’s degrees and higher,” says Lillie Eng-Hirt, who manages the Census office in Memphis, Tenn. One man was so grateful at being offered work, she relates, that he had the Census employee hiring him in tears after hearing his story of going without a job for so long.

Enthusiasm about the jobs has been so great that the Census pulled plans to advertise them nationally. Last spring, the Census did run ads when it was hiring canvassers for the summer — people who walk up and down every block in the U.S. to verify each address. The Census was hoping to get 700,000 applications in order to fill 200,000 spots. Instead, the bureau received 1.2 million. (Those applicants will be considered for the new positions too.) This time around, says decennial recruiting chief Wendy Button, the Census will run advertisements only in areas where it anticipates having trouble filling positions, such as inner cities, extremely rural areas and neighborhoods with large percentages of non-English-speaking residents.

And applicants aren’t the only thing the Cenus Bureau has a surplus of this year: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Bureau is having no trouble finding office space due to high vacancy rates. The paper says:

And the feds are finding plenty of cheap temporary places for desks, in a market in which roughly 20 percent of all office space stands silent.

Use of “Negro” on census form causes stir

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

A question on forms for the 2010 Census uses “Negro” as a response choice, and some blacks are taking issue with the Census Bureau‘s wording.

The New York Daily News reports:

The census form for 2010 features a word more often heard in 1966: Negro.

For many New York blacks, the word conjures visions of Jim Crow and segregation – even if the Census Bureau says it’s included to ensure an accurate count of the nation’s minority residents.

“It’s a bad vibe word,” said Kevin Bishop, 45, a Brooklyn salesman. “It doesn’t agree with me, doesn’t agree with my heart.”

Pamela Reese Smith, visiting the city yesterday from Rochester, said the term was outdated.

“I don’t think my ancestors would appreciate it in 2010,” said Smith, 56. “I don’t want my grandchildren being called Negroes.”

Question No. 9 on this year’s census form asks about race, with one of the answers listed as “black, African-Am. or Negro.”

Census Bureau spokesman Jack Martin said the use of “Negro” was intended as a term of inclusion.

“Many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do,” he said. “Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included.”

The form was also approved by Congress more than a year ago, and the word has appeared on past forms.

Readers, weigh in: Is “Negro” inappropriate or inclusive?

Census Bureau to buy Super Bowl ad

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Media Post is reporting that the Census Bureau will advertise during the Super Bowl in February.

The Bureau is expected to spend more than $300 million on marketing this year, with a significant portion of that devoted to paid advertising.

The article explains why the Super Bowl ad is important for the Census Bureau:

The Feb. 7 game on CBS comes soon after the Census kicks off a $300 million-plus outreach campaign. And importantly, just a few weeks before the Bureau begins disseminating its questionnaires.

The Super Bowl offers a chance to swiftly reach a massive amount of the U.S. audience. Last year, 151.6 million people — about half of the U.S. population — watched at least a portion of the game. On average, the game was seen in 48 million homes and viewed by 98.7 million people.

The Bureau also ran a spot in the 2000 Super Bowl.

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)

EXCLUSIVE: Former NYT Reporter Exposes Census’ Mishandling of Operations

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

By Laura Mansnerus

Well, the census job in Philadelphia is over. They hired way too many of us. We finished a couple months ahead of schedule. They trained people for a week so that they could work for two weeks. We all miss the paychecks we thought we’d have. The Census Bureau goofed. Does Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke know this? Probably not.

My census job was a total accident. This winter, I was on hiatus from my career in the dying newspaper industry, having left my job to take a fellowship that, of course, came to an end. When I regained consciousness, the whole publishing industry was staggering toward a cliff. Uh-oh.

In January, I was prowling on Craigslist — and the Census Bureau was recruiting for the address canvassing phase of the 2010 Census: Work 20 to 40 hours a week for 10 to 12 weeks.

And before long I was a “crew leader,” hired at $19.25 an hour to supervise canvassers, known as listers, who would be verifying every address in my district of Philadelphia. All over the nation, listers would be updating maps and address lists so the bureau would know where to send questionnaires for the 2010 Census. Fine.

I loved the prospect of spending springtime on the streets while putting off a hideous job search. Moreover, I tend to believe that the public sector does important things, even though I once worked for the E.P.A., one of the worst government agencies known to mankind. The census is a worthy undertaking. The Constitution told us to do it! So I walked into this job with a pretty sunny outlook.

The crew leaders started in March. We were told we’d be working into June. The official deadline for the address canvassing operation, I learned later, is early July.

In my chunk of Philadelphia, seven of us crew leaders were trained the first week, and the next week we trained assistant crew leaders. The third week, each of us would train about 15 listers. Then we would parcel out “assignment areas,” or AA’s, smaller districts with 300 or so addresses each, to the listers.

My supervisor, Ian Hemphill, said we would be all working all-out, full-time and furiously, because the Philadelphia region was behind schedule. It took me a week and a half to start wondering about this. The crew leaders and assistants had already knocked out a few assignment areas. Even fumbling with the balky software on our little hand-held computers, you could finish an AA in a day. My district had 90 AA’s left to assign. I’d have 15 listers.

“Ian, am I missing something?” I asked him when he called a meeting of the crew leaders. “I have 90 AA’s left, and they’re sending me 15 listers. That’s 6 per lister.”

“Oh, ho, I think your math is a little off there,” Ian said.

“Wellllll, I have 90 AA’s, divided by 15, and that’s 6.”

“Let’s get our terms straight here. Six per what? Six per day? Per week?”

Another crew leader, a quiet young guy headed for graduate school, entered the conversation: “SIX … for … the … rest … of … the … entire … operation.”

We could finish the whole thing in a week. Given some slow listers and half-functioning computers, it would take two weeks. But Ian was not persuaded. We all went home.

Wait, I said to myself. The Census Bureau was about to screw a bunch of barely employed people. They had been told they would work until June. They wouldn’t. Worse, this is the agency charged with sophisticated demographic analyses for government and business throughout the nation — no, the world — and with 10 years’ planning time the people running it didn’t know how long it takes x listers to verify y addresses? I had a supervisor who couldn’t divide 90 by 15?

I went to Google News. All around the country, newspapers were running friendly features as address canvassing started in their communities. The Census Bureau, as many of these reporters had copied from its press releases, hired 140,000 people to verify 145 million addresses. Ooops. So they were doing this everywhere. They hired one person for each 1,000 addresses. In Philadelphia they had hired one per 2,000 or so addresses. How long could that take?

The next week, while our listers were chewing through AA’s, Ian trained a second wave of listers who would serve (if needed) as replacements. Meanwhile, we were encouraged to fire people wherever possible. I did not fire anyone. I got two more listers. I got 19 in all, though one was fired because he had failed the security check. (When the local Census authorities learned this, he was already on the job — your federal security clearance dollars at work! — so I had to confiscate his computer and badge immediately while we were out on the street. But that’s another story…)

They people who were hired were top scorers on the same test I had taken. Some had not worked for months and were hugely relieved to have jobs, any jobs. They took their mission very, very seriously. We got lost in discussions about how to treat houses that appeared to be abandoned or buildings that might be divided into illegal apartments, even though our supervisors did not want us to spend much time on concerns like this.

The listers were in their second week on the job when the AA’s dried up. My big crew leader map was plastered with check marks. The listers had put in their first full day on April 3, and most were on their last AA’s when the crew leaders were summoned to headquarters on April 15. The assistant manager for field operations, a mild sort named Wayne Wolfgang, who seemed to be trying to do the right thing, announced, “There’s rumors out there that we’re running out of work.” Not true, he said. “We have a lot of opportunities to move people around. We still have work for everybody.”

Since the crew leaders had been instructed not to open our mouths at this meeting, we didn’t. The office manager distributed a memo from the regional director, Fernando Armstrong, stressing the importance of meeting deadlines. Attached was a warning about driving safely, and anticipating hazards like black ice and moose. We were supposed to pass these out to our listers. And we did! You’re out of work, but if you had any, you should watch for moose on Washington Avenue!

Ian wanted us crew leaders to tell people, “We will find you work.” I ventured, “I’m telling them, ‘we might find you more work.’” Ian got mad. “No! We WILL find you work!”

Nothing materialized, though. Listers who needed to reopen their unemployment claims asked if the Census Bureau would provide letters to certify that they were out of work. No, The Census Bureau wouldn’t do such things.

Many people had passed up other temp jobs or even quit jobs to take jobs with the Census Bureau. “What am I going to do?” said one middle-aged woman whose other job was passing out samples at a liquor store a few hours a week. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said, six or seven times. She gave me phone numbers of a couple market research firms that convened focus groups.

Others just wandered away. A few called or visited the office to deliver a piece of their minds. This was to be avoided at all costs. Keep them away from us, the last text message from Ian said. It also said, “Congratulate Listers [sic] on a quick accomplishment of their mission. Stress the positive. Stress the value of a period of federal employment with the possibility of recommendations.”

Today was my last day. I turned in the equipment I’d gathered up from listers, and on the way out of the office I saw Wayne Wolfgang. I asked him a question: “Why did the Census Bureau hire 20 people, including me, to do 97 AA’s?”

“Well, that was the number he was given by headquarters,” he said.

There was no mistake. We finished early. So what?

Wolfgang, apparently looking for congratulations until the end, said, “Did it ever occur to you that we’re efficient?”

“No,” I said.

Laura Mansnerus was an editor and staff reporter at The New York Times for 22 years. She was a 2007 Soros media justice fellow. She is also a no-longer-practicing lawyer.

Note: This article does not represent the opinions of MyTwoCensus.com, Stephen Robert Morse or Evan Goldin. The views expressed are those of the author. That said, MyTwoCensus welcomes written, video, photographic, and multimedia contributions from any individual with a 2010 Census-related story to tell.