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 ‘investigation’

Detroit News: Bribery probe targets former U.S. Census official (Dwight Dean)

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Since June 1, 2010, I have reported about problems in the Detroit office of the US Census Bureau involving Dwight Dean, who was booted from his once-stable perch in the Census Bureau hierarchy in August 2010. Today, I give a hearty thank you to Robert Snell and the Detroit News who have reported that the “former top-ranking U.S. Census Bureau official in Michigan and two other states is being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes and awarding an $857,000 no-bid contract.” MyTwoCensus.com urges federal, state, and local investigators to also investigate the many other Dwight Dean cronies who were very likely conspirators in his activities. Furthermore, as other MyTwoCensus.com pieces demonstrate, at the Detroit office of the Census Bureau, it oftentimes appeared like the inmates were running the asylum.

(Click here for a list of MyTwoCensus pieces involving the Detroit office that name many of the individuals I am referring to.)

Here’s the Detroit News piece (in full HERE):

A search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday in federal court indicates that in November 2010 a grand jury was investigating Plymouth resident Dwight Dean. He was the highest-ranking Census official in Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia until he was abruptly, and inexplicably, replaced in August 2010. No criminal charges have been filed.

This investigation involves a federal official in Detroit, which has been the focus of several ongoing corruption investigations involving City Hall and two Detroit pension funds.

Federal investigators did not put a value on the alleged bribes, which involve dinners at expensive restaurants and what appear to be free tickets to the North American International Auto Show charity preview.

The Detroit businessman named in the search warrant, who admitted giving Dean auto show tickets and paying for dinners, denied doing anything wrong.

“That’s not bribery,” Motor City International President Louis James told The News. “That’s a business meeting.”

Dean had served as Census regional director since 1987 and oversaw a crucial headcount last year that ended with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing vowing to appeal figures that showed a steep population drop. The census is used to determine the amount of federal funding cities receive.

Dean, 64, did not return phone messages seeking comment Wednesday.

The search warrants were executed a year ago and the current status of the investigation was unclear Wednesday.

There is no indication the allegations affected the 2010 census count.

“Over 39,000 people hired locally in the Detroit region worked on the 2010 census. At all times, we conducted extensive quality assessments of operations and census results,” Census Bureau spokesman Michael Cook said.”The assessments of the Detroit region are consistent and within the norms of what we found nationally.”

Federal agents raided Dean’s offices in Detroit one year ago, searching for evidence he accepted gifts, loans or money between August 2008 and August 2010, according to the search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday.

 

MyTwoCensus Scoop: Census Bureau regional partnership coordinator running as a Democrat for New York State Assemblyman while still on the job

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

UPDATE: At 10:00, a credible e-mail came in to the MyTwoCensus inbox stating that Mr. Dominguez was upset at his office. At 10:50, I spoke with Steve Jost, Associate Director of the Census Bureau, who informed me that Mr. Dominguez is no longer employed by the Census Bureau. Presumably, he was fired as a result of this scoop.

Rafael Dominguez, a New York-based regional partnership coordinator for the US Census Bureau since early 2008 has filed a petition to run as a Democrat for Assemblyman for New York’s 82nd District. Yet, as Census Bureau Associate Director Steve Jost recently commented on a MyTwoCensus.com post, the Hatch Act, “prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities while on duty.”

The problem is not that Mr. Dominguez is running for office, the problem is that he is running for office while an employee of the federal government and campaigning on the Census Bureau/taxpayer’s dime. MyTwoCensus.com has also learned that other Census Bureau employees who are underlings of Mr. Dominguez have been performing campaign activities while on official Census Bureau duty. These employees include other partnership assistants in the New York area:  Ed LaFranco and Adrian Tapia.

New Yorkers should be entitled to a partisan-free census, and Mr. Dominguez’s overt Democratic Party affiliations require the Census Bureau to fire him immediately. MyTwoCensus has subsequently learned that Mr. Dominguez used his (massive) budget for partnership materials to fund events and organizations that will benefit his political campaign.

Admittedly, it will be difficult to prove that partnership  funding was diverted for specific purposes that relate to the campaign, but such activities should immediately be scrutinized and audited more thoroughly than they already are. (MyTwoCensus.com has learned that the New York Census Bureau’s partnership office is currently undergoing a major audit. Perhaps this audit is directly tied to Dominguez and his misuse of funds, but more likely it has to do with rampant excesses by the Census Bureau’s partnership specialists.)

Here is the photographic evidence of the campaign activities that Mr. Dominguez has been engaged in while a Census Bureau employee:

Note the Census Bureau’s extensive partnership budget that includes $120 million from the stimulus package:

Picture 14

ABC affiliate says Fresno Census Bureau faces discrimination complaints

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Federal investigators are looking at the Fresno offices of the U.S. Census Bureau after receiving a number of employee complaints.

Investigators with the Commerce Department have been examining Fresno-area operations for the past several months. The complaints range from discrimination and bad management.

Investigators say two Caucasian workers who were let go say Hispanic employees were routinely favored for assignments over older, white workers.

The woman who oversees the Fresno Census offices says the census has been managed professionally and according to agency policies.

Census Bureau’s official response to James O’Keefe scandal

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

The following statement comes to me from Stephen Buckner of the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office:

Statement on O’Keefe Taping of Census Bureau Staff


“Census Bureau policies and training are clear and require all employees to honestly submit accurate time records. Workers are instructed to report hours they work, which would include their time traveling to and from training. 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 2 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 timesheets 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. ”

Background:

· Policies, procedures and training sessions clearly instruct employees to record the hours they work, which includes payment for the actual time traveling to and from training sessions. Mr. O’Keefe clearly did not include that, or the fact that part of his raw footage also shows trainers instructing new employees that they must record their mileage accurately.

· Mr. O’Keefe implies that the tapings occurred while he was still employed by the Census Bureau.  In fact, most of his video taping took place after his Census Bureau employment ended.  The Census Bureau’s stringent background check disqualifies individuals with pending federal charges or criminal offenses.  After O’Keefe’s background check came back, he quit before any action could be taken.

· None of the other new hires or Census Bureau staff attending the training sessions that were taped were notified or granted permission to be filmed in Mr. O’Keefe’s video. Many states have laws against such surreptitious tapings.

· Mr. O’Keefe, like all census workers, took a confidentiality oath for life to protect census data — the Census Bureau cannot by law disclose any personal information about a household or respondent that could identify them. We take this very seriously at the Census Bureau.

Highlights of the Inspector General’s Latest Report…

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Here are what we think are some of the most important findings of the Inspector General’s recent report:

- The 2010 Census is currently estimated to cost approximately $14.7 billion, reflecting an increase of $3.2 billion over the last 2 years. For this fiscal year, spending on the 2010 Census will total $7.4 billion.

- The ELCOs’ (Early Local Census Offices) production wage costs were 45–186 percent of their budgets and for production mileage they were less than one percent to 250 percent of their budgets. For the quality control phase of the operation, ELCOs’ wage costs were 68–439 percent of their budgets and for mileage were less than one percent to 878 percent of their budgets.

- During the period between January and July 2009, which encompassed the Address Canvassing operation, some employees claimed nearly 3.9 million miles driven at the higher rate, resulting in excess payments of approximately $136,000.

- 604 employees spent the majority of their time driving instead of conducting field work, and of those, 23 employees spent 100 percent or more
of their time driving.

- 15,263 employees received training but worked for less than a single day or did not work at all. Of these employees, 10,235 did not work at all but earned approximately $3.4 million for attending training. An additional 5,028 employees completed training, at a cost of $2.2 million in wages, but worked for less than a single day.

Digest all of that for a while and there will be more to come…

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

U.S. Census Bureau and Lockheed Martin Open 2010 Census Data Processing and Call Center Facilities in Phoenix

Friday, November 20th, 2009

As MyTwoCensus has reported on numerous occasions (such as here, here, here, and here), we are extremely suspect of the lax standards for employment at the Census Bureau’s three data capture facilities, such as lack of drug testing and the use of subcontractor after subcontractor being hired to perform tasks that they may not be qualified to perform. These factors are recipes for sensitive-information related disasters:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 18, 2009

Jack Martin
CB09-CN.34
Public Information Office
301-763-5937
e-mail: <jack.m.martin@census.gov>

U.S. Census Bureau and Lockheed Martin Open 2010 Census Data Processing and
Call Center Facilities in Phoenix

The U.S. Census Bureau today opened its last of three data capture
centers that will process 2010 Census questionnaires as they are mailed
back by households across the nation next spring. The 212,000 square-foot
facility in Phoenix will bring more than 2,800 jobs to the area.

“Processing the 2010 Census questionnaires accurately and safely at the
data capture centers is a crucial step to a successful census,” said Census
Bureau Associate Director for Decennial Programs Arnold Jackson. “The
responses 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 Phoenix Data Capture Center is expected to process about 30 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 Baltimore. The 2010 Census forms will
be mailed in March, and the majority of the data processing will occur
between March and July.

The call center is one of only 11 facilities to serve as an information
resource/hotline for questions people may have when completing their forms.
The Phoenix professionals will answer questions about the process and
completing the questionnaire, and will follow-up with respondents if their
returned forms are not complete or potentially inaccurate.

Both facilities will be managed by Lockheed Martin. Its subcontractor
partner, Vangent, will manage the hiring efforts for the 2,830 new
employees, most of whom will be hired starting in January 2010. 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.

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

TRANSCRIPT:

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 and Editorial: Census Bureau Employee Murdered!

Friday, September 25th, 2009

As was reported here and across the news media yesterday by the Associated Press, Bill Sparkman, a Census Bureau field worker in Kentucky, was murdered on September 12 with the word “fed” scrawled into his chest. Unfortunately, the MyTwoCensus team can’t be in rural Kentucky at this time to investigate this matter on the ground, but that doesn’t mean that we are not using all available resources to determine what happened.

10 Questions that MyTwoCensus Hopes To Answer ASAP

10. If Bill Sparkman’s body was found on September 12, why did it take 11 days for this story to come to the media’s attention?

9. Why was it the Associated Press that broke the story rather than local news sources? (Did the police and FBI fail to report this incident to the press?)

8. Why was Bill Sparkman working alone?

7. If the Harris Corp. Handheld Computers (HHCs) functioned properly, is there a GPS record of his last known wherabouts? (Is it possible to mine data from Bill Sparkman’s handheld computer and the Census Bureau’s data network to determine Mr. Sparkman’s duties on the day he was murdered?)

6. Noting that this incident took place in a rural area, would such an incident have occurred if Sprint, the network that the Census Bureau contracted to handle telecommunications, functioned properly in rural areas, allowing Bill Sparkman to call for help when he was in trouble?

5. How did Sparkman’s body make its way to the forest? If his vehicle was nearby at the time of his death, why couldn’t he escape?

4. Where were Mr. Sparkman’s supervisors when he didn’t complete his tasks on time?

3. Did the Kentucky State Police and FBI fail to properly investigate this incident?

2. Is there a violent movement brewing in America against Census Bureau employees or was this an isolated incident? (Were any threats made against Census Bureau employees prior to this incident? If so, were ALL EMPLOYEES warned of possible dangers?)

1. Who committed this horrific act?

Today, the Louisville Courier-Journal provided some updates on the story that could be of interest:

Police said the area has a history of drug trouble, including methamphetamine trafficking and marijuana growing in its forested valleys between steep hills and ridges.

“That part of the county, it has its ups and downs. We’ll get a lot of complaints of drug activity,” said Manchester Police Chief Jeff Culver.

He added that officers last month rounded up 40 drug suspects, mostly dealers, and made several more arrests in subsequent days.

Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, said Clay County is impoverished and has a “pretty wild history of a black market economy, a drug economy.”

Fedex-gate pt. 3: FedEx substitues for MS Word

Thursday, June 11th, 2009
Guide for Document Reviewers 5-14-09.pdf (page 1 of 2)MyTwoCensus obtained an internal memo from the Census Bureau that directs employees to use FedEx every time they want to make a change to a document

Hmmm, in most worlds using Microsoft Word’s “track changes” feature would suffice, but apparently not at the Census Bureau’s Suitland, Maryland headquarters.

FedEx-gate Investigation Continued: Census Bureau wastes $3 million…or more?

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

NOTE: We urge whistleblowers to contact us about this issue and any other issues that you may have experienced. MyTwoCensus staff will always protects your anonymity and provide resources and advice to assist you.

Soon after MyTwoCensus broke the story about the Census Bureau’s gross overuse of FedEx, readers (all of whom requested anonymity to protect themselves because they are afraid that they will be fired for speaking out, even though whistleblowers are protected by the law) contacted us with their personal stories.

fedexairbillspokane1

Below, please find one reader’s personal story (All details of this story have been fact-checked. MyTwoCensus will hereafter refer to this employee as Jane Doe):

“Please do not reveal my name.  A fellow census worker gave me your website tonight.  They do not have the courage to complain, and I probably should not, but I have always had more courage than sense.

Regarding Census Bureau use of FedEx – you will not believe the extent of it.  From November 2008, through late April 2009, every field employee was REQUIRED to FedEx a payroll form every day that they worked.  That is one page and a carbon copy of it.
I began working on December X, 2008, as a Recruiter, and worked 5 to 6 days per week through February X, 2009 when all recruiters in XXXXXXXXXX were abruptly laid off.  Not only did it cost them the FedEx rate everyday for my payroll report, but they required that I drive it to the nearest drop box every day and paid me $12.75 for the one hour round trip, plus $14.63 for the 25 mile round trip – every day!  For every recruiter!
If we had been allowed to use the post office, the envelopes/packages would have been picked up at my home.  I would not have had to drive to a drop box, and when I had a larger package the nearest post office is 25 miles (50 miles round trip) closer than the nearest FedEx store.”

After speaking with the Public Information Office at the Census Bureau’s national headquarters in Suitland Maryland, MyTwoCensus was told that FedEx was used to “protect confidential information.”

MyTwoCensus followed up with the 2010 Census employee (Jane Doe) who provided the above statement. She replied, “The information that I received was primarily not confidential information, but rather, it was instructions on how to perform my duties. The information that I sent was primarily my daily payroll report. It contained my name, my employee ID number, and my hours worked.”

This employee provided MyTwoCensus with FedEx package information/photos to corroborate what she told us.

Is this sensitive information or confidential information? Hardly! The names and ID numbers of Census Bureau employees are already highly visible on Census Bureau employees’ ID badges.

Just to clarify that MyTwoCensus isn’t looking to start trouble, Jane Doe told us, “On days that I sent more than one envelope, those packages did contain confidential materials with applicants identification information.”

Now that we have laid out the facts, we are awaiting a more thorough response from the Census Bureau…

FedEx-gate: Census Bureau wastes $3 million

Monday, June 8th, 2009

We hope that the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) and Commerce Department’s Inspector General are paying close attention to this investigation. MyTwoCensus thanks our readers who alerted us to the following story. If you have received FedEx packages from the Census Bureau, we urge you to contact us immediately and share your stories as well.

The initial tip that led to this investigation came from a former Census Bureau employee who wrote to us, “On Tuesday, May 26, I received a FED EX package from the temporary East Los Angeles office of the Census marked “PRIORITY OVERNIGHT DELIVERY” containing one thing: a regular-size white envelope, with my address written on it, containing two pieces of official paperwork: (a) 1-page personnel office document stating I was hired March 30, and (b) 1-page personnel office document stating I was let go April 20 because of lack of work. I have no idea why they sent this PRIORITY OVERNIGHT DELIVERY, but at $20 or so a pop, times 140,000 workers nationwide, that’s a lot of money. ($2.8 million in fact).”

Below, please find an airbill sent last week from another local 2010 Census office in a different region. The problem, in this and thousands of other instances, is that the message inside this $20 FedEx package could have just as easily been sent using standard first class mail via the U.S. Postal Service (for a mere ¢44) to reach its non-urgent nearby location within 24 hours. MyTwoCensus is currently trying to determine just how widespread this problem has become. We certainly hope that $3 million or more has not already been wasted.

fedexairbillspokane1MyTwoCensus hopes that this wasteful spending will be stopped immediately, hopefully before the 1.4 million people who will be  hired for the 2010 headcount are also sent non-urgent messages via FedEx. As the U.S. Postal Service goes further and further into debt, one wonders why government agencies are failing to use their own counterparts.

MyTwoCensus will be filing a Freedom of Information Act request by the close of business today to ensure that these numbers become public. On Friday we asked the Public Information Office at the U.S. Census Bureau to provide us answers to our questions about the use of Fedex, and after following up throughout the day today, we still have not receieved any official comment.