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 ‘fines’

In Ireland, people who don’t complete their census forms are actually prosecuted

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

In America, all residents are legally obliged to complete their census forms, but it has been many decades since the US government has actually enforced its rules and prosecuted citizens who have failed to complete their census forms. But in Ireland, this isn’t the case. The Irish Times reports:

SIX HOUSEHOLDERS are to be prosecuted for refusing to complete their census forms in last year’s survey.

The six cases have been forwarded to the Chief State Solicitor’s Office, a spokeswoman for the Central Statistics Office told The Irish Times .

The CSO’s policy was to prosecute “as representative a sample of the population as possible” and it would be prosecuting six households “for the moment”, the spokeswoman said. They could face fines of up to €25,000 on conviction in the Circuit Court.

Some 20 households had “refused outright” to co-operate with the census but a “significant proportion” of these households subsequently completed their forms after further correspondence, the spokeswoman said.

Forms from some 1.7 million households were collected by enumerators after last April’s survey.

 

 

 

Daily Sound Off: Census software violates federal law

Friday, June 11th, 2010

This Daily Sound Off comes from Bob in Elgin, Illinois:

Until Tuesday I was the AMT (Asst. Manager for Technology) for the Elgin IL census office.

Around April 1st, a change was made to DAPPS (Decennial Applicant, Personnel, and Payroll System) so that it required us to ask employees for the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number to reset their passwords. This is a direct violation of the Federal Privacy Act of 1974, and placed me personally at risk of fines and jail every time I illegally requested this information of another employee. I immediately notified IT management of this issue, and opened a trouble ticket.

Despite my complaints, this issue was never fixed. A proper disclosure could have been added to the screen to be read to the employee. Or something other than SSN could have been used to verify identity. The system even asked new users 3 security questions (hobby,favorite color, pets name) when they first logged in, but these are NEVER used anywhere. Or we could have continued to reset passwords with no further authentication, since these users were all in the office and personally known. This was not a situation where passwords were being reset from remote requests over the phone or internet where verification of identity is an issue.

On May 4th, I was ordered by my area manager, Richard Earley (Chicago RCC) to do this in violation of the law, and threatened with termination if I refused to comply. I responded that he did not have the authority to order me to violate federal law.

On May 6th, Richard Earley stopped in our Elgin office, again ordered me to violate this law, and wrote me up twice on D-282 disciplinary forms. He indicated that he would provide me with copies of those forms, and indicate exactly what rules I had violated in refusing to violate the law, but never did either of these.

In late May a new NRFU Shipping application was rolled out to replace the severely performance limited PBOCS system. The new ship app was based on DAPPS, and had the same illegal SSN request to reset passwords. I immediately logged another trouble ticket to alert management of this issue.

Tuesday afternoon, June 8th Richard Earley again came to our office with a letter written by his staff ordering my termination, that he forced our local office manager to sign under threat of termination. Richard was the only one that spoke to me, terminating me on the spot, and walking me out the door. Although a D283 is required for termination, I never saw a copy of that form.

In addition, our Chicago RCC has issued an edict that we can’t terminate anyone for performance issues, we have to demote them to a lower position. This has been done to other employees in my office, but was not done in my case.

According to the rules on this web site

http://www.osc.gov/pppwhatare.htm

Both my discipline and termination are illegal actions.

I have contacted several federal regulatory agencies, including EEO, OMB, OIG, and OSC and filed complaints as soon as I was disciplined.

In addition the census bureau owes a $1000 penalty to every employee that has been asked for an SSN to have their password reset (probably 5-10K people at a cost of $5-10M), according to the Privacy Act. And those responsible for this illegal system should be fined $5000 per the same law.

I would be more than happy to provide additional information on this issue, and would really appreciate it if you would publicize the census violations of the law.

The computer systems have so many bugs and performance issues, that I question that this census will produce a true and accurate count of our population.

Our RCC manages by intimidation and harassment. They have gone out of their way to create a hostile work environment for all involved in this operation. I don’t know if this is a local issue (IL, WI, IN) or national. In my 35 years of work history, I have NEVER seen so many illegal actions in a place of work as this one experience of working for my own government. I find it disgusting.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Clarify Social Networking And Blogging Regulations

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

In a memo sent last week to all of its employees, the Census Bureau took a huge swipe at the first amendment of the US Constitution, the right to freedom of speech. The contents of the letter were as follows:

CONFIDENTIALITY AND ETHICS REMINDER

Social Networking and Census Employment

As personal blogging, tweeting, social network sites have become more common and popular, it is not unusual for Federal employees to have an opportunity to write about their work and their employer in a public forum. Please be aware that you cannot disclose any nonpublic information that is protected by statute. You also cannot receive payments for writing about Census programs or operations or about assignments you have been given as a Census employee. In addition, you must be careful to ensure that there is no appearance created that you are writing on behalf of the Bureau of the Census, the Department of Commerce, or the United States Government, when you are writing in your personal capacity.

These rules apply to all employees, as well as those who are professional writers and reporters, so please keep these considerations in mind before writing and publishing or posting an article or other writing about the census or your work as a Census Bureau employee.

As a Federal employee and a hard-working member of the Census Bureau, you have important responsibilities and obligations to the public which impose some limits on you that do not apply to persons in the private sector. Please be mindful of these responsibilities, even when engaging in personal activities such as blogging and posting on web sites.

These restrictions on writings and publications are in addition to the life-time oath you took to uphold the confidentiality of census information. Any wrongful disclosure of confidential census information subjects you to a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment up to 5 years, or both.

*The last part of the letter was underlined, not put in bold, but I put it in bold to illustrate a point.

Just like other government officials and people who work in the private sector, Census Bureau employees are subject to confidentiality laws. However, this does not mean that the government has the right to threaten employees, particularly whistleblowers, as they have in this situation.  The Census Bureau must make clear what workers’ legal obligations are and what are simply the goals of the Census Bureau’s management and public relations team who benefit greatly from problems being kept quiet and unreported.

Crime but no punishment…

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Federal law requires participation in the census, and failure to respond to the 2010 Census can result in a $100 fine. Providing false answers carries a more hefty $500 fine.

However, MyTwoCensus is willing to go beyond saying that these punishments are rarely enforced, as it seems that they are NEVER enforced. At least they haven’t been in our lifetimes…

In an April 14 conversation between MyTwoCensus and Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner, we learned that “The Census Bureau is not a law enforcement agency. We try to make Americans understand the importance of completing the census, but we don’t try to enforce those penalties.”

If you fail to participate in the census, don’t lose sleep over it because the the Attorney General won’t have an armada of prosecutors and U.S. Marshals chasing you down…

Lockheed Martin & The 2010 Census

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Last week, a report came out that a Canadian man, Todd Stelmach, was fined $300 for failing to participate in Canada’s 2006 Census. His reason for avoiding the surveys: His religious and antiwar beliefs made it such that he couldn’t support Lockheed Martin, the American defense technology firm that was contracted by the Canadian government to provide the services responsible for the Census.

American anti-war advocates are most likely unaware that Lockheed Martin has a contract to “develop and deploy the Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) to carry out the 2010 Census. The Lockheed Martin Team was selected by the U.S. Census Bureau last year (2005) o implement the most technically advanced Census in the history of the United States.” Who awarded Lockheed Martin this contract? Was it a no-bid contract? What other firms sought to provide the 2010 Census with its necessary technology?

Here’s Lockheed Martin’s description of the Census services that they have provided for governments around the world:

The Lockheed Martin Census Business Practice team is a premier international provider of integrated census data collection, processing and analysis solutions. More than 10 years of unmatched experience, resources, methods, systems and commitment ensure that our census solutions are flexible, secure, accurate and cost effective.

Our Census Business Practice successes include the U.S. 2000 Census, the United Kingdom’s 2001 Census, and Canada’s 2006 Census, which was the first census in North America that allowed citizens nationwide the choice to submit their census via a secure Internet solution. The team is currently supporting the U.S. Census Bureau with the Decennial Response Integration System for the 2010 Census.

In the United States, the Corporation supported the Census 2000 with the Data Capture System (DCS). The U.S. Census 2000 was the largest, most sophisticated – and most accurate – census undertaken; encompassing 120 million forms with 98 percent accuracy. It represented the first census to use scanned optical character recognition (OCR) technology to process the handwritten forms.

For the 2001 UK Census, Lockheed Martin’s team provided data capture and coding services, including form printing, dress rehearsal services and census services for nearly 30 million forms with an accuracy rate of better than 99 percent.

Lockheed Martin provided hardware and software integration for Statistics Canada’s dress rehearsal and full 2006 census, including the first successful use of the secure Internet channel.

In every census we support, Lockheed Martin’s team strives to:

• Provide the general public with multiple, easy-to-use and secure methods of response.
• Help census authorities collect and capture the data accurately and completely.
• Employ robust processes and tools to ensure complete protection of individuals’ personal information.

Lockheed Martin’s Census Business Practice represents technology expertise that make census taking highly accurate, more automated and efficient, and easier for citizens as well as for governments to use.

Penalties from the Census Bureau: Are they ever enforced?

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Perhaps you’re too lazy to fill out your 2010 Census questionnaire. Perhaps you don’t believe that the government has the right to know your personal information. Perhaps you are living in this country illegally and don’t want to come under suspicion. Whether your like it or not, every person in America is required by law to complete their census form (or their American  Community Survey if they are part of the 1 in 40 households destined for a more thorough demographic investigation).

The Census Bureau lists the punishments for failing to complete a census survey. However, it is unknown with what, if any, strength or frequency the following punishments are actually enforced, because if they were enforced, that would mean that millions of Americans would owe the federal government $100 each for failing to complete the decennial survey. This begs the question: What is the purpose of having a law on the books if it is never actually enforced? Here are the Census Bureau’s fine/penalty guidelines:

(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or willfully
neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized
officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency
thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized
officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions
on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey
provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title,
applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related,
or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall
be fined not more than $100.

(b) Whoever, when answering questions described in subsection (a) of
this section, and under the conditions or circumstances described in
such subsection, willfully gives any answer that is false, shall be
fined not more than $500.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no person
shall be compelled to disclose information relative to his religious
beliefs or to membership in a religious body.