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 ‘Indiana’

Is the 2010 Census road tour still happening?

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Even though nearly all enumerations have been completed at this point, a reader submitted a photo to us from the Whiting, Indiana Pierogi Festival (yum!) that implies partnership/outreach efforts are ongoing. MyTwoCensus.com seeks to determine why money is still being spent on partnership/road tour activities. Take a look at your tax dollars, still at work:

Language problems with the 2010 Census may lead to changes in reapportionment

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The following article from the Bellingham Herald is very well written and paints a vivid picture of the problems I have discussed about poor translation services and more:

By DANIEL C. VOCK – Stateline.org

WASHINGTON Upstate New York took in nearly 3,200 refugees during one recent year. That was nearly seven times as many as New York City did. The refugees, more than half of whom came from Myanmar, often need medical care and other social services, but the region does not have the same informational resources – such as translators and English-language classes – as New York City. To help them get those services, upstate hospital officials and other advocates want them recorded in the 2010 census and have helped spread the word to refugees.

It’s not an easy job, but it’s a potentially important one. The refugees from Myanmar who live in the county that includes Rochester, N.Y., speak six different dialects, making the task of finding a translator who understands medical terms even more difficult. When refugees do visit a doctor or the hospital in the Rochester General Medical Group, says Jim Sutton, who heads the group’s office of community medicine, their appointments last longer because of the language barrier and complications related to the fact that refugees often went years without any health care.

An accurate population count could highlight that need to government officials, Sutton says. “Politicians want to represent their constituencies. We have 8,000 refugees in our area. … If a representative saw that much of their population was voting members of their particular area, their ears may perk up a little bit when something comes before them regarding language.”

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This is the kind of small but ultimately significant problem state and local officials are wrestling with all over the country.

Minnesota state demographer Tom Gillaspy knows how important the census count is for his state. He’s done the math himself. The once-a-decade tally is used for many things, but one of the most important is deciding how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House. According to Gillaspy’s latest projections, Minnesota could lose a seat by fewer than 1,000 people.

“It doesn’t get much closer than that,” muses Gillaspy, now involved in his fourth census for Minnesota. Miss just two college dorms – say, by counting them in June instead of April – and there goes the state’s eighth congressional seat.

“It is a huge operation to do a census. It is just an enormous, enormous thing. I don’t think people appreciate the precision which is required,” Gillaspy says. “It’s really at the core of everything that’s done in government and, to a large extent, in the private sector for an entire decade. So it better get done right.”

To the surprise of many, quite a few things are going pretty well this time. Across the country, 72 percent of residents have mailed in their census forms already. That’s roughly the same percentage that turned in their forms in 2000, which ended a three-decade slide in participation. That’s a good sign, according to experts, because the mail-in participation rate is a good indicator of how accurate the final count will be.

Experts credit several changes over the past decade for making it easier to educate residents about the census.

Perhaps most striking is the publicity blitz that promoted the mail-in portion of the census and continues now that 635,000 workers are going door-to-door to check with people who didn’t return their forms. The first big splash in the campaign was a much-maligned Super Bowl ad, but it was only the beginning. By the time the campaign is over, the U.S. Census Bureau plans to spend a record $133 million on advertising in 28 languages.

Behind the scenes, the federal government placed a greater emphasis on partnering with local organizations to get the message out. State and local governments have used a similar approach. Stacey Cumberbach, the head of New York City’s 2010 census office, says working with trusted leaders in different communities and across city government has helped the city boost its mail-in rates from 57 percent a decade ago to 60 percent this year.

Working with the city’s agency for public and subsidized housing helped get the message to one out of 12 New Yorkers, she says. Immigrants make up more than one-third of the city’s population, but that population in itself is very diverse. That’s why, Cumberbach says, it was so important for the city to rely on community leaders to promote the census.

In Minnesota, Gillaspy took advantage of a few other opportunities offered for the first time by the Census Bureau. In February, the state compared the numbers of addresses it had on its list for every block against the census’ count. Where there were big differences, the state asked the Census Bureau to double check its list of addresses.

Later this summer, Minnesota officials plan to compare state data for the capacity of group quarters – including prisons, nursing homes, halfway homes and dormitories – against the population count the census came up with in those facilities. If there’s a large difference, the Census Bureau will go back to recount the population there.

“It’s up to each individual state to volunteer to do this,” Gillaspy says. “I’m not aware that all states are doing this, but we certainly are.”

Gillaspy says Minnesota’s efforts during this cycle are more involved than they were a decade ago and far exceed the state outreach during the 1980 and 1990 headcounts. The Legislature approved funding for a three-year effort, and it can pay for itself by successfully counting even a relatively small number of people, he says.

Still, Kim Brace, the head of the consulting firm Election Data Services, is worried that some states have cut back on their outreach efforts to save money during this recession. He predicts, for example, that California will suffer because it couldn’t afford to better promote the census.

On the other hand, Brace says, technology has improved the amount of interim census data available to the public during the count.

“Ten years ago, we were lucky to have just to have an overall county-level count of the response rate at this time,” he says. “Now we’ve got it at the (census) tract level. That’s phenomenal.” Practically speaking, Brace says, that lets elected officials or community leaders check with the Census Bureau’s online maps to determine which areas are falling behind and respond immediately.

People who didn’t turn in their forms are less likely to answer the door when a Census worker comes knocking, explains New York City’s Cumberbach. And even if they do talk, she says, they may not provide accurate information.

In New York City, six people may share a one-bedroom apartment. Or a family of immigrants may include some people who are in the country legally and some who are not. “It’s almost like everyone has something in their home that they don’t want to share or that they’re nervous about,” Cumberbach says.

Neighborhoods with the lowest mail-in participation rates tend to have more blacks and more Hispanics than areas that turned in a bigger share of their forms, according to an analysis by the City University of New York. The 5 percent of neighborhoods with the lowest response rates were, on average, 54-percent minority. The rest of the country as a whole is 30-percent minority.

When it comes to states, many of those most in jeopardy of losing U.S. House seats – a number of them clustered around the Great Lakes – had some of the best response rates in the country. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia topped the charts.

This is especially important because the housing crisis has slowed the population growth of many Sun Belt states, and because many of those states also have below-average census response rates. Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Georgia all were expected to gain seats, but each had 70 percent or lower mail-in participation rates.

An inaccurate headcount can cost communities more than just political clout. A study by a census oversight board following the 2000 count said the country’s 58 largest counties would lose out on a combined $3.6 billion over the decade in funds distributed by population formula, more than $2,900 per person.

“Every person missed,” says Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, “is that much less federal resources for everything from schools and medical services to resources to pave the streets.”

Census Bureau employees are victims of crimes, yet also perpetrators of crimes…

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

With 635,000 people on the job for the non-response follow-up (NRFU) operation, it’s not surprising that there are a few bad apples in the bunch. On the other hand, it’s tragic to learn that a Census Bureau employee in Connecticut became a carjacking victim. Here are the tidbits about these situations:

According to Connecticut’s NBC affiliate:

A Census Bureau worker was the victim of a carjacking in Hamden, and the suspect is just 14-years-old.

The 50-year-old Hamden resident was sitting in his car, clearly marked with a Census Bureau sign, on Hamden Park Drive Thursday around 6:00 p.m., according to police.

The victim told police the teen came up to him with a gun and ordered him out of the car, then stole money from him.

Jumping in the car, the teen sped away, but returned a short time later and ordered the victim to drive him to the First Street area, police said.

The teen jumped out of the car at First Street and fled on foot.

Working with several leads, police arrested the 14-year-old suspect around 9:00 p.m. Thursday night.

He is charged with carjacking, first-degree kidnapping with a firearm, first-degree robbery and larceny.  Police did not release the teen’s identity because of his age.

And from the Fox affiliate in Indiana, a Census Bureau employee raped a woman whom he had previously enumerated…weird:

Census worker charged with rape

Posted: May 11, 2010 4:18 AM

A Southern Indiana Census worker sits in jail, charged with brutally raping a mentally handicapped woman.

Now deep concerns from within the neighborhood where police say it took place.

Connie Fry said she was asleep in one room and her daughter in another and had no idea someone was in her home attacking her daughter.

“At one time she told me he was putting his hand over her mouth and he was choking her,” Fry said as she was describing the attack on her daughter.

She said the attacker is 39-year-old Daniel Miller.  Fry said he is not a complete stranger, but someone she had met before.

“Three days prior to the night he got here he came from the Census Bureau.”  That day – Fry said Miller was dressed professionally and was polite only taking her information for the Census.

Officials with the U.S. Census Bureau confirm Daniel Miller is a numerator, someone employed to go door to door gathering information.

At around 4:30 Saturday morning, police said Miller broke into a home at 5602 South State Road 60 in Pekin, Indiana and brutally attacked and raped Fry’s 21-year-old daughter.

“She had blood shot eyes and bruises on her shoulders and her arms.”

Fry said her daughter is handicapped and could not have defended herself.  “She’s got Cerebral Palsy and mild retardation.”

Fry said it was easy to figure out who attacked her daughter because he left behind plenty of evidence.

“He left all his clothes, his wallet and everything in the bedroom.  He went out of here with her pajamas and her panties.”

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Miller at his apartment on North Eastern School Road in Pekin across the street from Eastern High School.

“Sometimes we’re here by ourselves because my husband works out of town,” said Evelyn Wisman Fry’s neighbor.

Even though police say they have arrested the right person, neighbors along Indiana 60 in Pekin are concerned that someone trusted by the government to go door to door is now charged with such a serious crime.

“That’s scary for him to know exactly who’s in the home,” Wisman said.

Miller is charged with rape and burglary and is in the Washington County Detention Center on a $150,000 full cash bond.

Census officials tell Fox 41 a background check is performed on all employees and anyone with a criminal history is not hired.

Courier-Journal: Jello powder disrupts Census work in Jeffersonville

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

H/t to Harold J. Adams of the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal for the following report about one of the Census Bureau’s three data capture centers:

A red powder that prompted authorities to evacuate a Census Bureau warehouse in Jeffersonville on Tuesday morning turned out to be Jell-O.

That’s according to David Hackbarth, director of the bureau’s National Processing Center on East 10th Street.

Hackbarth said similar incidents have happened multiple times since the census began.

About 200 employees were forced to leave the warehouse about 8 a.m. after the bureau’s onsite response team could not identify the powder found along with a mailed-in census questionnaire in an envelope opened by a worker an hour earlier. The all-clear was given shortly before 1 p.m.

A 20,000-square-foot work bay was on lock-down with no one allowed in or out during the hour that census officials investigated the substance. Then it was determined to evacuate the 200 workers who had been isolated in the bay and call 911 to get help from the Jeffersonville Fire Department and the National Guard’s hazardous materials team in Louisville, Hackbarth said.

The employees were kept out of the building during the National Guard investigation.

“This makes our nineteenth incident since we started the census” in March, Hackbarth said.

In sixteen of the previous incidents, Census Bureau security was able to determine the substances were harmless without calling in outside help. Two other incidents did require National Guard help, but were also found to be harmless, Hackbarth said.

The evacuation of the warehouse temporarily suspended the processing of incoming census forms, he said, but other operations proceeded normally.

“Fortunately, we are ahead of our processing curve,” he said.

With school year winding down, college students lack census forms on campus

Friday, April 16th, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com wonders what other college towns that are dependent on students are also lacking forms…See this report from Indiana:

Indiana State students among those awaiting census forms

Spring semester ends in three weeks

Sue Loughlin The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State University students will complete spring semester in three weeks, yet residence hall students still have not been counted in the 2010 census.

The U.S. Census Bureau has taken longer than expected to provide the census forms to the university, said Tara Singer, ISU’s assistant vice president for communications and marketing. “I believe there was just an underestimation of forms needed” for the community’s college students, she said.

A similar problem has occurred at Indiana University.

ISU has 2,999 students living in 10 residence halls and 382 students living in University Apartments, she said.

Those students will be counted as Terre Haute residents.

While there’s been a delay, Singer expects the university will receive those forms very soon. “Yes, we think we’ll get them [students] all counted on time” before they leave at the end of the semester, she said.

She does expect to have the forms by next week, when ISU will conduct floor meetings in residence halls to distribute the forms and ask students to complete them at that time.

ISU does have a representative on the Terre Haute Complete Count Committee. “We want to have our students counted because they spend approximately 10 months a year here in Terre Haute,” she said.

ISU has taken an active role in trying to make students aware of the importance of the census through posters, electronic communication and student organizations, she said.

ISU has not caused the delay, Singer said. “We’ve been ready.”

Terre Haute public affairs director Darrel Zeck, who leads the Complete Count Committee, said he recently learned about the insufficient number of census forms to count the college students.

Zeck said he was relieved to learn Thursday that ISU will get the forms soon.

Meanwhile, Rose-Hulman does have its census forms for students and distribution to fraternity presidents was to begin Thursday night, said Tom Miller, Rose-Hulman dean of student affairs. Rose-Hulman has 1,100 students living on campus.

The forms also will be distributed to students in residence halls, Miller said. “Everything is in order.”

Having ISU and Rose-Hulman students counted is critical for Terre Haute in its ability to qualify for various types of federal funding, Zeck said. While he’s relieved, he believes it’s “unacceptable” there was a shortage of forms to begin with.

Cindy Reynolds, an assistant regional census manager in Chicago, said that it was her understanding a staff member had contacted ISU and “any problem has been resolved.”

While initially there were not enough forms, there should be enough now, Reynolds said.

Press Release: Lockheed Martin Team Prepared for Peak U.S. Census Data Capture Production

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Here’s a press release update from our friends at Lockheed Martin:

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 1, /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —  With the U.S. Census now underway, Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE: LMT) Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) team is receiving up to 12 million census forms daily, processing as many as 2.5 million forms every 24 hours and answering more than 56,000 telephone inquiries per hour during peak production expected between the end of March and April 2010.

The DRIS contract was awarded in September 2005 to the Lockheed Martin team, which includes major partners and a large small business component. The DRIS team is responsible for the people, process, technology and infrastructure needed to receive, capture and standardize data from potentially more than 300 million U.S. residents as well as provide telephone assistance to support data capture efforts.

The Lockheed Martin-lead team hired and trained more than 13,000 temporary personnel, conducted intense testing and dress rehearsals and primed itself for one of the largest and most sophisticated data capture jobs in the country.

“Based on our experience with the 2000 Census, we partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau and the nation’s top companies to develop a solution that embraces information technology and automation to accurately, efficiently, securely and quickly count the nation’s growing and changing population,” said Julie Dunlap, director of Lockheed Martin’s Census Practice and program manager for the 2010 Census DRIS. “During exhaustive planning and testing, the system and associated employees and processes performed flawlessly and fully confirm the team’s readiness,” added Dunlap.

Three data capture centers support this massive effort to process all Census forms within a 6-month period. Centers in Baltimore, Md., managed by CSC, and Phoenix, Ariz. managed by Vangent, Inc., are bigger than four football fields put together. The third center is located at the Census Bureau’s National Processing Center in Jeffersonville, Ind.

In addition, the team established 11 call centers managed by IBM and Vangent across the country to answer respondents’ questions and to follow up to ensure no one is missed. “Between now and August, there will be an estimated 6.6 million inbound and 8.1 million outbound calls to ensure we are obtaining the most accurate data from respondents,” said Dunlap.

The results of the 2010 U.S. Census are due to the President in December 2010 as mandated by U.S. law.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.

Transcript of Los Angeles 2010 Census Press Conference: Indianapolis, Indiana Gets Screwed!

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Apologies for the awkward numbering system, but that’s how the transcript came in…Check out how Indianapolis is getting SCREWED by the Census Bureau (scroll down to the Q&A portion…I understand that Dr. Groves was under the weather during this press conference, but still, there were way too few questions asked and answered here!):
3                        TRANSCRIPTION OF

4              THIRD ANNUAL 2010 CENSUS OPERATIONAL

5                         PRESS BRIEFING

6                          March 1, 2010 (more…)

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.”

Census Bureau Official says Senator Schumer Was Misled: The Truth About Census Jobs

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
MyTwoCensus has received a contribution from a Census Bureau official (verified to make sure this person is for real but with her full anonymity protected) that will serve as a response to our recent story from Indiana:
Several weeks ago, I was in a test session where an applicant told me that he heard about the census from an announcement by Senator Chuck Schumer on the nightly news.  The Senator said the work would pay pretty well and go anywhere from ten weeks to six to eight months. The applicant was nonetheless shocked when I handed him this piece of paper which said that the test he took was for work lasting only one to three weeks…(SEE ABOVE DOCUMENT)

As there is much confusion, I thought I’d write this letter to clarify some misconceptions. The first myth is the census will begin hiring in early 2010 which has some truth to it. There will be several smaller operations and a small number of office positions but the number of jobs is neglible (less than 5%).
The majority of jobs will be in May 2010 for the Non-Response Followup operation where enumerators will knock on people’s doors and ask them to fill out a questionnaire. The second myth is that the jobs last anywhere from ten weeks to six to eight months. According to this sheet of paper, it will last up to three weeks.   In fact the embarrassing part is no one really knows how long the job will last.
However from November 2009 to April 2010 the Census Bureau is on a mission to recruit tens of thousands of people based upon a model they will need five applicants for every one position:
* because one person will decline the position (doubt it, the unemployment rate is in double digits)
* one won’t show up to training (doubt that will happen for god’s sake the unemployment has been the worst in any census in a half a century)
* one won’t complete training or pass the test (they assume the applicant pool is inherently dumb which isn’t true because of the high caliber of applicants in the recession)
* and one will quit the first week (ok that might happen if you don’t like getting the door slammed in your face)
Based on my experience I can tell you we have had very high test scores, few job refusals and high retention of staff. If this continues it will result in many people not getting hired. The Census Bureau is wasting money recruiting all these people for a small number of jobs. It needs to rethink this ridiculous model because as we all know they already made the startling admission that their cost estimation models are completely inadequate  (just look at address canvassing and group quarters validation).
Most areas are already meeting their recruiting goals but we have trouble recruiting in more affluent neighborhoods of New York. In typical census fashion when goals aren’t being met they throw bodies at it and hope it improves. They hire recruiting assistants (RAs) based off a test score and ask yes/no questions during the interview. You answer yes to all the questions you get the job. Every week they hire more recruiting and partnership assistants. There is no organization, they just ask you to take a whole bunch of brochures and cards and give them out in the hopes you will get people to take the test.
Everyone has the same ideas: visit church groups, public housing, non-profit organizations so there is duplication of work. When the recruiting goals aren’t being met RCC intimidates and offers little constructive help. There are regional technicians who just go around and tell us we’re not recruiting enough people…(especially this short Asian guy with a Napoleon complex and some guy who snoozes during meetings). They don’t seem to understand that no one wants to take a test for the possibility of a job a few months from now, lasting only one-three weeks for $18.75 an hour which barely pays the exorbitant rents of $3,500 a month. More test sessions are scheduled and more clerks are hired but the phones don’t ring anymore than they did last week. Judging by the way they do recruiting you think this is the first time they are doing this. But they’ve been doing this since the first census in 1790. (okay maybe they didn’t have to recruit workers on horseback but it seems like an amateur operation).

The Census Bureau needs some innovation here:

* track recruiting efforts by putting a unique code (corresponding to each RA) on each brochure so there is an incentive everything they hand out results in someone applying
* commission or compensation linked to performance
* targeted media ads in local newspapers (which I have yet to see)
* get the Census road tour vehicle out there or have recruiting assistants tranform their cars into promotional vehicles
* reaching out to business improvement districts and unemployment agencies to advertise their jobs

Track recruiting efforts by putting a unique code (corresponding to each RA) on each brochure so there is an incentive everything they hand out results in someone applying…And while they are at it someone should reevaluate this model which I know is wrong. They need to stop throwing needless money away to recruit people who won’t even get called. The model is get as many bodies to take the test, offer a small percentage of them jobs and tell them it will last eight weeks. Then headquarters realizes there isn’t any work, other areas are working faster and they are running out of money.
In order to save themselves embarrassment they will rush the operation because the quicker they finish the better they look and the less money they have to spend. Get the hopes up of thousands of unemployed Americans who need work to put food on the table. Rinse and repeat.
So if anyone is listening to me. We don’t need more people, we just need better workers, better leadership and a more realistic recruiting model. Perhaps this recruiting speech might be more fit:
Hi I’m a recruiting assistant with the United States Census Bureau. We’re offering jobs in your community, as an RA I can’t tell you how long the jobs will last. The jobs may last eight weeks, but will probably be more like one to three weeks. I actually don’t know because our leaders at Census Bureau headquarters don’t know either. I do know you will need to take a basic skills test in reading comprehension, math skills and reasoning. However if you don’t get a perfect score and you’re not a veteran you may not get hired. On a lasting note you will make good money for a few weeks, then headquarters will realize they overestimated the workload, over staffed the operation and are running out of money. To make themselves look good they will probably tell you to work faster, do a haphazard job or risk being terminated. Are you still interested in a job?

Indiana Reporter Tries To Take On The Census Bureau

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Why won’t Census hire Indy workers?

By David Barras

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – We told you Tuesday about thousands of Census jobs available in Indianapolis. So why can’t Hoosiers who have already passed the test get a job?

Angry, frustrated and in desperate need of a job is the way Judy Rawnsley of Indianapolis described herself after passing the Census test months ago and hearing nothing since. Rawnsley told 24 Hour News 8 she took the test in November.

“About two weeks later they called me and told me that I had either scored high or had a perfect score and would I come and test for management,” she said.

Judy took the Census management test at the Indianapolis Census Office on East 30th Street.

“And I’ve heard nothing. I have made several phone calls. I just get someone who answers a phone, and I get several stories. No one knows anything,” she said.

Judy called 24-Hour News 8 after seeing the story of the Indianapolis Mayor and a 7th District Congressman begging for people to apply for Census jobs.

“If there’s 5,000 jobs, I’d think there’s one that I can handle,” she said.

After calling the head of the local Census office and hearing nothing, 24 Hour News 8 went there looking for answers.

Sue Gettz, the local Census manager told us she couldn’t talk and referred us to the Chicago Office. Then she realized the camera was rolling, and told us we couldn’t use anything we taped.

Gettz said “I came to you because you’re at the front door.”

24-Hour News 8 Anchor David Barras said “because I tried to call and you wouldn’t answer me.”

“I understand that entirely,” said Gettz.

Gettz promised to have someone from Chicago call us, but like Judy we couldn’t get any answers from the local office.

“I know other people in this same situation. That have taken that test, and no one has heard anything about their test scores or what’s happening. Nothing,” Rawnsley said.

24-Hour News 8 did get a call from the Chicago Region. A spokesman there promised someone from the public information office would call back with the information 24-Hour News 8 asked for.

No one has called back. It’s the second day we were promised a call from the Chicago Region and never got it.

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.”

Census Bureau Opens New Facility In Baltimore

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

The following is a press release I received today from the Census Bureau:

Census Bureau Opens Data Processing Center in Maryland

New 2010 Census facility will create thousands of area jobs

The U.S. Census Bureau today opened one of three data capture centers
that will process the 2010 Census questionnaires as they are mailed back by
households across the nation. The 236,500-square-foot facility will bring
more than 2,500 jobs to Baltimore County, Md.

“Processing the 2010 Census questionnaires accurately and safely at the
data capture centers is a crucial step to a successful census,” said Census
Bureau Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg.  “The data from each form processed
at the facility will help provide a complete count of the nation’s
population and a new portrait of America.”

The Baltimore Data Capture Center is expected to process about 40
percent of the census forms mailed back by respondents. The remaining forms
will be sent to the Census Bureau’s National Processing Center in
Jeffersonville, Ind., and the data capture center in Phoenix, which is set
to open in November. The 2010 Census forms will be mailed in March, and the
majority of the data processing will occur between March and July.

The Baltimore Data Capture Center will be managed by Lockheed Martin.
Its subcontractor partner, CSC, will manage the hiring efforts for the
2,500 new employees, most of whom will be hired starting in December of
this year. Each worker will take an oath for life to keep census
information confidential. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share
respondents’ answers with any other government or law enforcement agency.
Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and
five years in prison.

The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and
is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data are used to distribute
congressional seats to states and to allocate more than $300 billion in
federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year. The 2010
Census questionnaire will be one of the shortest in history, consisting of
10 questions and taking about 10 minutes to complete.

Census Worker Held Up At Gunpoint

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Are 2010 Census Questionnaires now as valuable as cash? Apparently so! In all seriousness, it’s terrible that the Census Bureau’s field workers are falling victim to criminals while going about their business. Here’s the report fro WTHR in Indiana:

Indianapolis – An armed man robbed a U.S. Census Bureau employee at gunpoint in an apartment complex on the northwest side.

“The guy comes up from behind and says, ‘Give me your wallet’,” said Michael McCord.

McCord stayed calm when a gunman surprised him as he went door to door at the Woods of Eagle Creek Apartments.

“I turned around and he showed me his gun, said he was serious and he wanted my wallet. So I gave it to him,” McCord said.

As he walked from one building to the next, knocking on doors, his attacker walked up behind him. The gunman never became menacing, the 61-year-old McCord says, but he knew not to aggravate someone armed with a weapon.

“The gun implied that my life was threatened, so I assumed to just give it up rather than try to keep my 15 dollars,” McCord said.

McCord says just before the suspect took off, he stopped him and asked him not to take everything.

“As he walked away, I said, ‘Can you at least let me have my driver’s license back?’ and he handed it to me,” McCord said.

McCord usually works and walks his census routes alone, but police say there’s an advantage to having someone else with you.

“I encourage people to do it in pairs, that way you will still have two people instead of one,” said IMPD Lt. Dawn Snyder.

The robbery didn’t scare McCord from his job, in fact, he’s already back at work.

He described the suspect as a black male, about 18-20 years old, 5’6″ tall and was wearing a blue and gray baseball cap, a gray hooded sweatshirt with writing on it.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 262-TIPS.

Who Let The Dogs Out (in Sarasota)?

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

If you think that working for the U.S. Census Bureau is safe, think again. As we have previously reported, man’s best friend is census listers’ worst enemy. When we previously pressed the folks at the Census Bureau’s Washington HQ for worker safety data, they referred us to look at OSHA’s stats page. However, it is unlikely that this data is accurate because of the sheer number of Census Bureau employees scattered throughout America and the fact that the data for the recent operations will not be tabulated for some time.

Here’s an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Sarasota Herald Tribune detailing a recent vicious attack on census worker:

The most recent attack occurred April 15, as David Fraser, 52, approached the front of the home while gathering data for the U.S. Census.

Fraser’s job for the Census Bureau involves a computer and GPS system, and requires him to go to homes, line up a GPS and push a button that registers that house.

Fraser said he was about 5 feet from the door of the house’s lanai when he heard a “low growling.” Then, he says, in a flash the dog “lurches and succeeded to open the front door” and grab and bit his wrist.

The dog took off and Fraser saw he was bleeding; he ended up at Sarasota Memorial Hospital for a tetanus shot and antibiotics.

Fraser said that under normal circumstances, in light of the dog-warning signs, he might have stayed farther back from the lanai door. But that day, his supervisors had given Census workers “a quality control talk.” Workers were “failing quality controls” and were told they needed to get to within 5 feet of structures before registering them.

Officials with the U.S. Census Bureau have declined to comment on the episode.

If you think this is a first time occurrence, think again. During the 2000 headcount, 71-year old Census Bureau employee Dorothy Stewart was killed by a pack of 18 dogs in Indiana. Here’s an excerpt from an article about Stewart’s tragic death from dogbitelaw.com:

June 10, 2000, Brown County, Indiana. Dorothy Stewart, a worker for the US Census, was attacked and killed by a pack of (more than 18) dogs while collecting census data in Indiana.  Her family filed a wrongful death suit and eventually settled with the defendants’ insurance company for the limit of the policy.

Charges of criminal recklessness were filed against the dog owners, because as they had maintained the pack for over 10 years, and numerous other people had run-ins, albeit not fatal, with the dogs.  This was the only charge apparently available to the prosecutor due to a loophole in Indiana law. In that state, it is a felony if your dog leaves your property and attacks someone, but not a crime at all if the attack happens on your property.  An attempt to change the law last year failed; the bill was watered down — first it would only protect government employees, then only between the hours of 8 and 5, and finally the house and senate couldn’t reconcile their bills and the entire effort to change the law sputtered to a halt.

The prosecutor entered into a plea agreement (dropping drug charges) and the defendants pled guilty.  On July 6, 2001, they received the maximum sentence available under the agreement, which was 1.5 years in jail for the wife, and 3 years in jail for the husband.