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 ‘Jeffersonville’

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.

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.