The Omaha World-Herald has taken on an issue that I have written about extensively in recent weeks. How does the Census Bureau justify the costs of workers traveling large distances and putting them up at hotels while local workers get paid to sit idly or are terminated?
A waste in U.S. Census operation?
By Christopher Burbach
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
The U.S. Census Bureau has brought in more than 30 out-of-town workers to conduct door-to-door surveys in Omaha, even though some Omaha census employees say they don’t have enough to do.
The Census Bureau expects to spend $42,311 on hotel rooms and food for the workers, who are from Lincoln and other Nebraska locations, said Russ Frum, assistant regional census manager in Denver.
He said there are “about 38” such workers. The Census Bureau expects to pay for 315 hotel room nights. That would work out to about eight nights per employee. Most started June 4. They’re scheduled to leave Friday.
The workers, known as enumerators, are knocking on doors to collect census data at households that did not mail back a 2010 Census form. They’re trying to catch people at home to ask them the census questions in person, or on the telephone. It’s what the census calls “nonresponse follow-up.”
Frum and an Omaha census official, Jackie McCabe, said the expense is justified. They said data collection was behind schedule in some areas, especially northeast Omaha.
“We have brought experienced people in to finish an area that did not appear was going to be finished on time,” said McCabe, local census office manager for Douglas, Sarpy and Washington Counties.
The out-of-town workers are Nebraskans, she said. Local managers had tried to find Omaha crews to complete the surveys in the areas that were behind, she said. (more…)