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 ‘Department of Commerce’

MyTwoCensus Editorial: New York Times editorial has it both right and wrong

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Today, the New York Times published an editorial that praises Congress for initiating bi-partisan reforms of the Census Bureau as it initiated legislation that mandates the Census Bureau Director’s term to be fixed at five-years, a plan that makes it easier to work around the decennial census. However, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and the White House were at first keen on this idea, but have now stalled the plan, despite seven former Census Bureau directors asserting that this is the best way to reform the Census Bureau. Robert M. Groves, the current Census Bureau Director, also supports this plan — but apparently the egos of the others have got in the way of progress:

The Obama administration, which should be supporting the bill, is instead raising objections. It has objected to a provision that would allow the census director to report directly to the commerce secretary. It also has objected to a provision that would require the director to send Congress the bureau’s budget request at the same time it goes to the White House.

However, the editorial strays from its initial goals later on and says this:

The census was in dire straits when President Obama took office, and it took a while for the administration to get organized. The 2010 count is now on track, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Locke and Robert Groves, the bureau director — both Obama appointees.

The New York Times has it wrong. The Census Bureau and the 2010 Census are not “on track” at this point. The myriad technical failures and other problems have already hampered the accuracy of this count and will continue to do so in the immediate future mean that the 2010 Census is NOT on track.

Retrospective: Statistical Sampling

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The use of statistical sampling has been a hot political topic that caused a significant amount of partisan debate, discussion, and allegations prior to Robert M. Groves’ U.S. Senate confirmation hearing to become the next director of the U.S. Census Bureau. However this is not a new issue for the decennial headcount. For the readers of this blog who are interested in the history of the sampling dilemma, please check out this article from Science News Online (click here!) about the sampling debate in the days that led up to the 2000 headcount. The result of the  1999/2000 controversy was a ruling of the United States Supreme Court in the case of the Department of Commerce vs. The United States House of Representatives that banned sampling from being used in decennial census counts.

Live-blogging Robert Groves’ Senate Confirmation Hearing…

Friday, May 15th, 2009

8:20 – Arrive at hearing. Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post and a couple of cameramen from C-SPAN are the only people present in the room.
8:25 – A committee staffer named Dierdre, who is clerking the hearing, says that only 3 Senators are expected to attend today.
8:29 – Robert Groves walks into the room, sets down his bag and a stack of papers, says a quick hello to me, and then walks out of the room.
8:35 – 4 women and 4 men, who appear to be family members of Robert Groves, walk into the room.
8:36 – Groves re-enters the room and hugs/shakes hands with his family members. He appears confident.
8:38 – Bob Groves comes over and introduces himself to me. He recognizes me from MyTwoCensus. He invites me out to “Suitland” – aka Census Bureau HQ to see the inner workings of the Bureau. I hope to take him up on his offer.
8:52 – Groves is schmoozing with other Census Bureau officials. They share some laughs.
8:57 – There are 3 reporters here other than me (Wash Post, CNSNews.com, NPR). Thus far, there’s been a whole lot of hype without a whole lot of action.
9:10 – Maintaining the status quo. Only 20 people total in the room. This will likely be a pretty darn quiet event.
9:20 – Nothing to report.
9:25 – Still nothing to report.
9:26 – Approximately 35 people in the room right now. No sign of any Senators.
9:27 – Senator Carper is here.
9:28 – Carper has his arm around Robert Groves. Senator Levin is here too. Three of them chatting like old chums.
9:31 – Carper just sat down, everyone is quiet, ready to go.
9:32 – No other Senators except for Levin (who is introducing Groves) and Carper.
9:33 – Senator Levin giving introduction of Robert Groves.
9:37 – Levin says, “Groves has been endorsed by 6 former Census Directors from Democratic and Republic administrations.”
9:39 – Senator Levin finishes introduction and departs.
9:40 – Senator Carper is discussing the hearing in Philadelphia from Monday.
9:42 – Carper mentions that 2000 Census had 500,000 temporary employees.
9:43 – This is the most expensive census in history. Estimated cost: $100 per household, rather than $56 per household in 2000. Why such a disparity?
9:44 – Carper acknowledges that the investment into handheld computer technology has been a colossal “failure.”
9:45 – Sounds like Carper is wrapping up…”Since no members have arrived yet…” Carper is looking for ways to kill some time.
9:46 – Groves’ financial statements have been reviewed by the government and he is all  to go.
9:47 – Groves is sworn in by Carper. He introduces his guests – family and colleagues.
9:51 – Groves mentions non-partisanship. (We will post his official opening remarks soon).
9:52 – Sen. Akaka (D-Hawaii) just entered the room.
9:54 – Groves is very articulate. His commitment to running the Census Bureau in a non-partisan way sounds legitimate.
9:55 – Groves discusses the statistical sampling issue. Groves agrees that statistical adjustment will not be used for redistricting.
9:56 – “My job is to constantly search for ways that censuses and surveys are conducted.”
9:57 – Groves finishes his remarks.
9:58 – Senator Carper mentions that many other Senators have returned to their home states, hence why they are not here today. He introduces Sen. Akaka.
9:59 – Senator Akaka praises Robert Groves.
10:01 – Carper telling stories about his son going on a road trip. The point of the story is that people may get counted twice, especially rich college students.
10:05 – Sen. Collins (R-Maine) has arrived at the hearing.
10:08 – Groves explains that working with leaders in subgroups of the population is important to encourage participation.
10:14 – Akaka asks how Groves plans to attract highly qualified staff members to the Census Bureau, as 25% of Ccnsus Bureau employees are scheduled to retire within the next year.
10:15 – Groves says that very few American students are studying statistical methods many are foreign students at American universities). Groves notes that there are very few American schools that offer statistical analysis programs. Groves suggests that restrictions on foreign workers working for the Census Bureau should be lifted.
10:17 – Groves says there is a need for interdisciplinary programs.
10:18 – Akaka asks how Groves will improve diversity within the Census Bureau.
10:19 – Groves says that he wants to increase diverse staff to increase a diverse population.
10:20 – Sen. Collins is now speaking. She is asking questions.
10:21 – Collins praises Groves’ statement that a non-partisan, objective 2010 Census is necessary.
10:22 – Collins, “What safeguards will you take to prevent the decennial Census from being influenced by partisan politics?”
10:23 – Groves discusses transparency and assures that he will speak out against interference if that occurs.
10:24 – Collins, “Would you be prepared to resign if you were asked to do something when there has been interference?”
10:24 – Groves, “Not only would I resign, I would make sure I stop abuses.”
10:25 = Collins asks about statistical sampling. She wasn’t here when this was discussed earlier.
10:26 – Collins asks if Groves would want to use sampling in 2020. He says, “I have no plans to do that.”
10:27 – Collins, “In this information age…the Census is using paper and pencil to collect data…What steps will you take to bring the Census into the 21st Century? What will you do to ensure better management of technology contracts by the Census Bureau?”
10:28 – Groves discusses Research and Development and management.
10:30 – Senator Collins concludes and exits.
10:31 – Carper discusses that the federal government has many problems with technology.
10:37 – Groves discusses the over 1,000 partnerships that Census Bureau created for 2000 Census. Groves says that local leaders play an important role in this. He supports grassroots campaigns to get people counted.
10:39 – Grovces explains that different societal sub-groups have different sub-groups. He discusses Australia’s method for dealing with Aborigines as a successful method. (Bill Bryson’s work suggests otherwise.)
10:49 – Just fell asleep for about 7 minutes because Sen. Akaka has been droning on and on while prefacing a question. I see no less than 10 other people with their eyes closed right now. Final question: How will you reach the grassroots?
10:52 – Akaka asks Groves about field workers not following procedures according to the Inspector General’s report.
10:53 – “I am not briefed on the training or non-response follow-up. I find those things interesting. I will pay attention to those. – Groves
10:55 – Carper now speaking about IG’s report – “This almost jumped off the page at us. I urge you to familiarize yourself with this report.”
10:56 – Carper says he has 2 more questions.
10:59 – Groves acknowledges there will be problems with the 2010 Census, but pledges quick, calm, collected, responses to issues, with full transparency.
11:00 – Carper asks if Census Director should have a fixed 5-year term and if reporting to the Secretary of Commerce makes sense.
11:01 – Groves says that it’s problematic that many Census Directors are appointed in years that end in the number 9 – meaning right before the decennial headcount. Groves says this is “meritorious of serious discussions.”
11:04 – Carper asks if there is enough funding for the Census Bureau.
11:05 – Groves says he doesn’t have enough information to answer this question.
11:06 – Carper finishing hearing now.