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 ‘Ed O’Keefe’

Congressman speaks about Census worker safety

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

H/t to Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post for this clip of Congressman Jim Moran:

Ed O’Keefe on James O’Keefe (no relation)

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post has added some more info tot he James O’Keefe narrative from earlier today:

“Workers are instructed to report hours they work, which would include their time traveling to and from training,” said spokesman Stephen Buckner. “This is no different than the training session that Mr. O’Keefe attended in New Jersey, and during his previous employment with the Census Bureau last year. In his video, Mr. O’Keefe, an admitted criminal, does not disclose that he previously worked for the Census Bureau for nearly two months in 2009 without incident, allegation or complaint.

“That employment with us was well before his indictment and prior to his conviction of a federal crime last week. The Census Bureau obviously does not condone any falsifying of or tampering with time sheets by its employees. We are investigating the allegations in Mr. O’Keefe’s selectively edited video and will take appropriate administrative action with staff as warranted. ”

A Census Bureau official also noted that O’Keefe’s decision to videotape the training sessions appears to violate Commerce Department policies against recording conversations.

O’Keefe confirmed that he worked for the agency last summer for about a month compiling addresses as part of 2010 Census preparations. He was hired again this April and quit after two days of training before receiving further instructions in order to avoid any privacy concerns, he said in an interview.

Washington Post: Stricter hiring rules at the Census Bureau

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

In response to recent incidents and pressure from lawmakers, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves has made hiring rules more tough. MyTwoCensus has for more than a year exposed holes in the Census Bureau’s hiring plan and fingerprinting procedures, so this shouldn’t come as a major surprise. However, this action may further fuel the class action lawsuit against the Census Bureau. Here’s the latest from Ed O’Keefe and Carol Morello of The Washington Post:

The Census Bureau is adopting stricter rules for screening new hires after a registered sex offender using an alias got a job as a census taker, the bureau’s director said Wednesday.

Robert M. Groves said that from now on, applicants whose name, age, gender and Social Security number don’t all match background records will be held up for more investigation instead of being sent on for FBI fingerprint checks. Applicants whose fingerprints are not legible, as sometimes happens with older people whose ridges have worn down, will not be hired until their identities and backgrounds can be checked.

And when there is any “evidence of criminality” by a census worker, Groves said, there will be swifter invention to get them off the streets.

“These three things are good things to do,” said Groves, speaking at a Fairfax event that aimed to encourage Asian Americans to open their doors to census takers and answer their questions. “People should know that the person coming to your door won’t harm you.”

In early May, a woman in Pennsauken, N.J., who was home alone with her toddler son, opened her door to a census worker who asked for the names and birth dates of everyone residing there. Thinking he looked familiar, the woman checked the sex offender registry site after he left and recognized the man under a different name than the one he had given her.

Census officials said the man had passed a name check but failed a fingerprint check and was fired in the first week of May, apparently after he had visited the woman’s home. The man was charged with using a fake Social Security number in his census application.

In a separate incident, a census worker in Indiana was charged with raping and beating a disabled woman in early May when he allegedly returned to the house after first visiting on an official call as a census taker.

The Census Bureau has hired about 635,000 people to make house calls to people who did not send in their census forms by the end of April. This phase is more than half completed, and is scheduled to continue into July.

Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post analyzes yesterday’s report from the Inspector General

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Thanks to Ed for  the following:

Frequent glitches in the computer system built to manage the 2010 Census could jeopardize its accuracy and drive up costs beyond its $15 billion price tag, according to a new watchdog report.

The findings by the Commerce Department’s inspector general come as roughly 600,000 census takers fan out nationwide to visit about 48 million addresses where nobody mailed back a census form.

The quarterly progress report found that problems persist with the agency’s paper-based operations-control system, a computer program developed to manage data collected by census takers. Several local Census Bureau offices are experiencing outages of several hours to entire days, the report said.

Those delays contributed to $1.6 million in clerical overtime costs in the first quarter, and the cost will probably rise in the next two months as census takers complete their work, the report said.

Because of computer delays, local census offices also could misplace completed paper questionnaires that are waiting to be processed.

“Questionnaires can be misplaced, for example, by storing them with questionnaires that have already been checked in,” the report said. If those forms are not processed, “the persons identified in the questionnaires may not be counted.”

The report reinforces concerns raised last week by the Government Accountability Office during a congressional hearing on census operations.

The Census Bureau developed the computer system in 2008 after scrapping plans to use handheld computers built for the agency. The decision left little time to develop the software, and officials have since said the system probably poses the most risk to census operations.

“As we have publicly disclosed to Congress, our oversight agencies and the press, the operational control system is not optimal, and remains a risk,” Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner said in an e-mail. “However we do not foresee cost overruns of the type speculated upon in this report.”

Census Director Robert M. Groves has vowed to keep census operations under budget in hopes of returning funds to the Treasury. But he acknowledged potential operational issues this week in a blog post written to his 600,000 new hires.

“Nothing as large as the decennial census can be trouble-free,” Groves said. “Despite the years of development, things will go wrong.”

Official Census Bureau “Participation Rate” Stats/Trends/Data Available Here

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Check out this slideshow depicting recent data/trends that was shown at yesterday’s Census Bureau press conference (transcript of the press conference coming here ASAP).

Ed O’Keefe reports on Census Bureau’s final stats on mailback “participation” rates

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

H/t to Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post:

72% of households responded to 2010 Census

Take a gander at the documents Groves shared with reporters at his announcement earlier today:

The 2010 Census response rate matched returns for the 2000 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday.

Seventy-two percent of American households returned questionnaires by last week and 28 states had higher response rates than 10 years ago. Seven of the 10 most populous counties matched their 2000 response rates as did eight of the 10 most populous cities, the Census Bureau said.

Census Director Robert Groves estimated that between 46 million and 49 million households did not return questionnaires. Temporary census takers hired by the agency will hit the streets starting this week and will visit those addresses up to six times to get answers. The agency will further outline those plans at a news conference Monday.

Groves said he anticipates critics will question why this year’s results only matched the 2000 response rates despite a multimillion-dollar advertising and outreach campaign, but he called this year’s results “unbelievable” because survey response rates have dropped significantly in the past decade.

Socioeconomic concerns rather than race or ethnicity appeared to drive lower response rates, Groves said. Less-educated, lower-income households appeared to respond less. The nation’s foreclosure crisis also contributed to the lower rates, he said.

The total cost of 2010 Census operations — budgeted for about $14 billion — will be known once officials get a complete tally of households that did not respond, Groves said.

Michael Steele and the GOP – Are you kidding me? Republicans continue ‘census mailings’ despite law

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Michael Steele and the national GOP are a bunch of ignorant individuals who are completely out of touch with their party’s mainstream. Even after Congress showed strong bipartisan support for a measure to ban deceptive census mailings (now a law signed by President Obama), these idiots continue to act illegally — and they are openly defending their actions. They should be prosecuted. Eric Holder and the Justice Department, I hope you’re reading this. H/t to Ed O’Keefe for the following…and I hope that Jon Stewart creates a segment mocking this BS on The Daily Show in the near future:

The Republican National Committee believes that a new round of mailings which use the word “Census” does not violate a new law banning such deliveries.

Democrats and news organizations in Nebraska, Utah and Washington state have called out the new Republican mailings as illegal and detrimental to 2010 Census efforts.

The mailings appear to violate a law signed by President Obama on April 7 that passed with bipartisan support in both chambers. The law requires mailings with an envelope marked “Census” to state clearly the sender’s return address and provide a disclaimer that the mailing is not from the federal government.

But the RNC will keep sending such mailings regardless of the new law, according to committee spokesman Doug Heye.

“In reviewing the new law, our legal department determined such mailings are not covered. Therefore, they will continue,” Heye said in an e-mail. He would not elaborate on the legal determination.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who authored the bill, sounded incensed.

“What is with these guys?” she said in a statement. “Congress passes a law in record time, with unanimous bipartisan support in both houses, to reduce confusion about the real Census. But there they go again, trying to make a partisan buck on the Census!”

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has been asked by Nebraska Democrats to weigh in on the matter. Under the old law, postal inspectors deemed such mailings legal.

Senate passes “Census mailer” bill

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

H/t to Ed O’Keefe at the Washington Post for the following:

With just six days left until 2010 Census forms are due back, the Senate approved a measure Friday that bans deceptive mailings that use the word “Census” without a disclaimer.

Democrats, senior citizens and civil rights groups have denounced mailings by the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee that prominently featured the word “Census” and “Official Document” on the document and envelope. Though the U.S. Postal Service ruled the mailings legal, opponents argued they could confuse Americans who were waiting for the government’s census forms to arrive in the mail.

The Senate unanimously approved the measure along with 12 other unrelated bills. It requires mailings with an envelope marked “Census” to clearly state the sender’s return address and a disclaimer that the mailing is not from the federal government. Mailers could still use the word “census” on an envelope or document so long as it carries the disclaimer. The House unanimously passed the bill March 10.

Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post live-blogs the process of filling out his 2010 Census form…

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

To make a long story short, it took Ed only a few minutes (significantly less than the ten minutes the Census Bureau advertises it will take) to complete his form. But to watch him on video, HERE’S THE LINK.

Census News Round-Up: Call Center Hiring, Census Forms Being Distributed, Groves Testifies In Washington About 2010 Census Jobs, New York Undercount?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

1. From the Atanta Journal-Constitution: Ryla is hiring 1,400 people in Georgia to work at call centers from April-August, presumably for the Census Bureau’s non-response follow-up operations.

2. From the Terry Haute, Indiana Tribune Star: 2010 Census materials are already being distributed in hard-to-count areas of Indiana.

3. From Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post:

A majority of the roughly 1.2 million temporary jobs created by the U.S. Census Bureau this year will be created in the late spring, agency Director Robert Groves said Tuesday.

Groves told a Senate subcommittee that 600,000 to 700,000 census takers will be hired from May through early July to visit individual households that fail to return census forms. Some workers currently employed in temporary positions are expected to reapply for new positions and get hired, he said.

“We over-recruited, clearly underestimating the labor market,” Groves said, acknowledging that the nation’s employment situation provided the Census Bureau with a wealth of eager applicants who, according to an agency statement, showed up for training at a much higher rate than they did during the 2000 Census.

4. The venerable New York Times reports that, “The city and the Census Bureau hope to avoid a repeat of the 1990 census, when the city challenged the count and the bureau acknowledged that it missed more than 240,000 New Yorkers.”

The Final Word on the Super Bowl ad debacle…

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I need not write any more words about the Super Bowl ad. It now has 333,000+ views on YouTube, but at the same time it has been panned time and time again, and perhaps caused 10% of the population to resent the Census Bureau, even if it caused 2% of the population to fill out their 2010 Census forms.

As you will see below, the genius ad agency DraftFCB (who also produced failed and unmemorable Taco Bell and Dockers commercials during the Super Bowl) didn’t even permit the embed codes for the “viral videos” to be shared until this error was pointed out by internet users. One word for these folks: Idiots.

The following words are from The Federal Eye blog by Ed O’Keefe:

Updated 3:53 p.m. ET
Media critics seem to agree: The U.S. Census Bureau should keep to counting people and stay out of the advertising business.

The agency spent $2.5 million on a 30-second ad that aired during the third quarter of Sunday night’s Super Bowl, a price tag also earned them two spots during the pregame show and two on-air mentions by CBS Sports anchor James Brown.

The ad was directed by Christopher Guest and starred Ed Begley Jr. and alums of Guest’s cult classics, “Best in Show,” “For Your Consideration” and “A Mighty Wind.”

The ad is one of a five-part series that the agency hopes will spread virally out from a Facebook fan page and YouTube. (The agency prohibits bloggers and third party sites from copying and pasting embed code of the ads, blaming contractual restrictions — a decision that likely means the agency’s viral efforts will fail. UPDATE: The agency’s YouTube channel now provides the embed code. Was somebody listening?!)

Entertainment Weekly named the spot one of Sunday night’s five worst, stating, “How weird to hire all those funny character actors, then accidentally air an unfinished version of a commercial that left us all wondering what the frak we just watched!”

The ad also ranked poorly in USA Today’s annual Super Bowl ad viewer survey, ranking towards the bottom between a CareerBuilder.com ad and one for the new Wolfman movie. (But it did beat the controversial ad starring Tim Tebow.)

Advertisers are often willing to fork over millions of dollars for a Super Bowl spot in hopes of free day-after buzz. So perhaps most insulting of all, some ad critics completely ignored the Census spot. Slate’s Seth Stevenson didn’t mention it in his review of an “uninspiring slate” of commercial offerings, and The Post’s television critic Tom Shales also ignored the ad (Shales concluded that the David Letterman-Oprah Winfrey-Jay Leno “Late Show” promo was the night’s best — and The Eye agrees).

The conservative editorial board at the New Hampshire Union-Leader seized on the Census ad’s price tag, calling it a “Super blunder” and lamenting that the spot cost only 1.9 percent of the Census Bureau’s total advertising budget.

The editors echoed concerns raised last week by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Both lawmakers have sought justifications for the big purchase.

“There has been a great deal of buzz about the Census ads this week which is raising awareness at just the right time,” said Census Bureau spokesman Steven Jost.

“No single ad carries the whole burden of this massive outreach and education effort,” he said. “Our goal now is to raise awareness that the Census is coming in March. Then we will shift to more direct messaging that your Census form will be arriving by mail and inspiring folks to ‘mail it back.’”

Officials have also justified the costs by noting that any publicity about the 2010 Census — good or bad — should help save taxpayer money in the long run. A higher census response rate cuts the need for temporary workers to conduct expensive follow up interviews, the agency said.

“If 1% of folks watching #SB44 [Super Bowl 44] change mind and mail back #2010Census form, taxpayers save $25 million in follow up costs,” the bureau Tweeted on Sunday night.

Census trash will benefit baby feds

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

H/t to Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post for the following:

What will the government do with the millions of 2010 Census questionnaires once it’s done counting them next year? Shred them, sell the recyclable scraps and then give the money to federal childcare facilities, according to Census Director Robert Groves.

Groves shared the details during an interview broadcast Monday on Federal News Radio.

The National Processing Center in Indiana shreds and bales the paper once Census Bureau computers have scanned the data on the paper questionnaires, according to the agency. The General Services Administration then sells the bales of paper to contractors. The proceeds go back to the Commerce Department, which by law must use the money for environmental or employee wellness programs, including its child care facilities.

Incidentally, the Government Printing Office prints the 600 million questionnaires on 30 percent recycled paper. The Census Bureau has already printed roughly 425 million questionnaires for mailing next Spring.

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.

Congressman weighs in on inconsistent hiring figures

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Update: We understand that many of our readers are hoping to find out more information about the FedEx-gate Scandal. We will be holding our next post on this issue until tomorrow morning as we are currently fact-checking new major allegations.

Earlier today, Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post reported, “the House lawmaker charged with overseeing the Census has expressed some early, if only vague concerns about how Census workers have performed their address canvassing duties, or the national inventory of every place of residence.

“While I’m very pleased that Address Canvassing has gone well for the most part, it’s too early to declare the operation a complete success because there are still some unanswered questions,” Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said in a statement yesterday. “The Commerce Department Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office have both expressed concern about some listers not following procedures for Address Canvassing and some shortcomings in quality control measures.” A spokesman would not elaborate.”‘

Below, please find a press release that echoes many of the issues that MyTwoCensus has previously reported about employment and unemployment figures not adding up. Apparently at least one member of Congress (Patrick McHenry) has caught on…

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Brock McCleary
June 9, 2009 Phone: (202) 225-2576

McHenry: Is the Administration erroneously counting census jobs?

WASHINGTON – Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, issued the following query regarding Obama Administration officials’ claims that the stimulus package will “save or create” 600,000 jobs over the next 100 days.

“As hiring for the 2010 Census continues, the American people ought to know whether the Obama Administration is attempting to include the thousands of temporary and part-time census workers in their count of 600,000 jobs ‘saved or created.’

“Including census workers would be disingenuous at best.  First, the Obama Administration didn’t invent the census; these are positions which are created every ten years, regardless of who occupies the White House.

“Furthermore, attempting to combine these part-time and temporary jobs to count them as full-time positions is not an accurate picture of the nature of the work.  As many families struggling to make ends meet with a series of part-time jobs can tell you, two part-time jobs does not equal one full-time job.

“I hope the Administration will be forthcoming about whether these temporary positions, which would have been created regardless of stimulus spending, are included in their jobs count.”

Note:    The 2010 Decennial Census is expected to result in 200,000 hires in 2009, which the Office of Management and Budget scores as the equivalent of 17,197 full-time positions.  In 2010, the Census Bureau will hire an estimated 700,000 workers, the equivalent of 105,391 full-time positions.

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Robert M. Groves is on track for confirmation…

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Here’s an update on the status of President Obama’s nominee for director of the Census Bureau from Ed O’Keefe at the Washington Post:

Congressional sources tell The Eye that Census director nominee Robert Groves will get a confirmation hearing in early May. The Census Project has released a letter signed by six former Census directors (pdf) backing his nomination.