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 ‘felonies’

Letter To The Editor: Census Bureau Ignores Fingerprinting Problems And Focuses on Name Checks

Monday, December 7th, 2009

The following letter, from David Allburn of National Fingerprinting, comes in response to our recent post that features questions about why felon/presumed murderer Thom Gruenig was working in a supervisory role for the 2010 Census answered by the Census Bureau:

To The Editor:

Did you notice that your questions about FINGERPRINT comparisons were answered with statements about NAME-CHECK comparisons?

The Census Bureau made the two statements that “No criminal record was found,” and “He was not in their criminal database.” Those statements ask us to assume that he was not ANYWHERE in their criminal database, most especially not in the FBI “fingerprints” database. It is not evident at all from the investigation report you published, whether the FBI had actually compared Mr. Gruenig’s fingerprints to the fingerprints of felons, no matter what the names were.  The questions to ask should have included these, for which I proposed what the carefully considered Census answers might be:

1.  ”What would normally have happened at the FBI side if Mr. Gruenig’s fingerprints were determined by the FBI automated equipment to lack sufficient image quality to enable print-to-print comparison?” [Answer: A name-check is done instead, and Census relies upon that.]

2. “Is there any record entry maintained at Census or at the FBI, by them or by their contractors, that shows whether the aforementioned image quality test was passed or failed, either by a direct data description or by a reliable indirect indicator?” (…such as an indication that the fingerprint query defaulted into the name-check process by returning a TCR number.) [Answer: If a TCR is returned, that indicator is probably retained by either FBI or Census or their contractors somewhere.]

3. “If due to ‘normal procedure’ Mr. Gruenig’s fingerprints may not have actually been compared with others in the FBI file, is there any process by which new prints can be taken of assured-adequate quality and re-submitted to assure AFIS acceptance and comparison?” [Answer: If Mr. Gruenig were to be booked after our background check, presumably pursuant to a new criminal allegation, his prints would likely be routinely sent by the booking law enforcement agency to the FBI for comparison, and re-sent however many times necessary to assure the fingerprint check was actually accomplished to reveal whether any previous forensic-purpose prints on file matched his.]

4. “If a disqualifying record were thereby exposed and reported, would Census have the same confidence in the fingerprint portion of its background check process as previously asserted?” [Answer: Yes, but our confidence would be higher for those prints that passed the quality check at the FBI side.]

5. “if there were a way to assure that fingerprints submitted with insufficient quality to support an actual FINGERPRINT COMPARISON did not result in a default-hire as may have occurred in the Gruenig case, and such a way could be instantly and simply incorporated into the current logistical process, is there any reason why Census would not adopt it?” [Answer: Census routinely considers all helpful proposals according to the Federal Acquisition Regulations.]

6. “Would Census reveal whether an internal investigation was done to determine if Mr. Gruenig’s prints were rejected for quality reasons, and whether or not there actually were matching prints in the FBI file after all? [Answer: The Census Bureau considers personnel records confidential and does not reveal their contents.]

7. “Would a Freedom-of-Information Act request limited to whether Mr. Gruenig’s prints got a TCR result from the FBI allow a FOIA response?” [Answer: Consult the answer to #5 above.]

8. “If it were to be revealed by other legal means that there was a TCR returned by the FBI in Mr. Gruenig’s case, and that he indeed did have matching prints on file with the FBI under a fake name different from the one he gave on his Census employment application, …. (question left to be finished by MyTwoCensus.)

Of course, the above is an interrogation, not an interview. And it may turn out that Mr. Gruenig’s prints indeed got compared with the FBI print collection and turned up with no matches. Such a result would impugn Alaska’s reporting system, not Census Bureau procedure. But such close questions is necessary when jousting with a skilled PR department that carefully chooses its words such as providing NAME-CHECK answers to FINGERPRINT-CHECK questions.

I am glad that MyTwoCensus will “soon get to the bottom of this.” Can’t wait.

David Allburn

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


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.”