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 ‘mainstream media’

Census Bureau returns $$ to the Treasury…but how do we know this now when operations are ongoing?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Well, in anticipation of Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves’ press conference that starts in just over an hour (yes, for those people on the West Coast this is conveniently timed for 7AM – perhaps a move so nobody is actually on the call) the Commerce Department announced that the Census Bureau is under-budget and is returning more than $1.5 billion to the Treasury Department. Obviously, the timing of this statement is a Public Relations coup d’etat prior to the press conference, with the hopes of deflecting the rather tough questions that should be asked in regard to faulty operations.  But let’s get some things straight here: The Census Bureau received $1 billion in  extra cash from the stimulus package, so that means that its budget swelled to $14.7 billion after the initial budgeting was done. Additionally, the 2010 Census is NOT FINISHED. There are ongoing operations, including Census Coverage Measurement (CCM) and the recently added NRFU Residual Follow-Up. How much will these operations cost?

*Also, a note about the media: The mainstream media has been ALL OVER reporting this issue. I am upset by this for 2 reasons: 1. The media goes nuts whenever the Census Bureau does something good, but fails to criticize it when it is wrong. 2. I never received this press release even though I have informed the Census Bureau on numerous occasions that their time-sensitive releases don’t reach my inbox, and they have repeatedly assured me that they will correct the problem, but this hasn’t happened yet.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Fingerprinting changes are long overdue because the media failed to report on the potential problems

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

For nearly a year, was the only media outlet reporting about the problems that the Census Bureau faced in terms of fingerprinting the 1.4 million people who were set to work for the 2010 Census. And we continue that fight today.

In December 2009, I reported that a convicted felon in Alaska was working in a supervisory position for the Census Bureau. This was discovered only after the man killed his mother and then himself. Clearly, this incident should have made calls for improved fingerprinting procedures at the Census Bureau obvious. However, the Census Bureau maintained the status quo and did nothing — fending off my questions and ignoring my concerns.

This incident occurred two months AFTER I originally posted the flaws of the 2010 Census fingerprinting process that were written by child advocate and fingerprinting expert David Allburn, who offered solutions to the Census Bureau that were ultimately refused. Allburn wrote:

(1) The Bureau should announce that trainees are responsible for the “readability” of their own fingerprints, and that fingerprint “failure” due to un-readability (or to discovery of disqualifying criminal history), terminates the canvasser’s employment. This stops attracting ex-felons who would intentionally blur their prints, but it is manifestly unfair to honest workers whose fingerprints are blurred by the inexperienced print-takers. This is fixed by step two.

(2) The Bureau should augment its fingerprint capture by adopting part of our patented “self-capture” technique. Invented by a war veteran, the method has applicants use an extra minute or two to make their own set of “backup prints”, observed and authenticated by the print-taker. Barcoded and enclosed with the cards forwarded to the scanning center, those self-captured prints are readily available for fixing any individual print impressions found “bad.” Well tested, this gets the cards through the FBI with the same dependability as live-scanning offers, typically twenty times better than the old rubber-stamp method now in use.

Only after a handicapped woman was raped by a 2010 Census employee and a sex offender was caught going door-to-door did the Census Bureau decide to change their policies. Is that what it takes to create “change” in America?

MyTwoCensus Editorial: The Mainstream Media Has Failed America

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Americans have once again been failed by the mainstream media. As I have expressed, is essentially a one-man operation. Yet, I still manage to file more than my fair share of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain significant amounts of information from the Census Bureau (and I am subsequently dragged around in circles as it takes months to actually obtain the data I request…Thanks for the transparency that you promised when you were elected, Mr. President!).

Sadly, I am essentially the only journalist who is pursuing such information from the Census Bureau, as evidenced by my tracking of FOIA requests. Local, regional, state, and national news organizations should have reporters covering the 2010 Census beat, at least during this busy time. 99% of the stories written about the 2010 Census (my humble non-scientific estimate) are fluffy pieces that remind individuals to be part of the enumeration process. Most of these articles read like press releases from the Census Bureau — because in many cases they are simply a collection of tidbits from Census Bureau press releases that are hastily thrown together. That neither traditional media organizations, new media organization, nor government watchdog non-profits and think tanks have taken investigating 2010 Census operations seriously is a major travesty, and the effects of this failure will soon be evident.

Without sounding like Clark Hoyt of the New York Times or the Ombudsman of the Washington Post, I understand that in the past week I may not have had 100% accuracy in my stories. I attribute this to many factors:

1. There is an excessive amount of information flowing in to me right now, and it is difficult to analyze it all in real time.

2. The government has been extremely unhelpful in answering my inquiries within a short amount of time.

3. The government has been lying, exaggerating, and spinning the 2010 Census to create a false image about its current rate of success, while also failing to provide solid data from the 2000 Census to use as reference points.

4. In the midst of the aforementioned problems, I have at times found it more effective to throw out information onto the Internet and let my readers correct me, since other individuals may have more knowledge than me about specific issues. I then go back and correct what is wrong. This is a method that has been used by Silicon Valley blog TechCrunch for many years now with great success. In the future, I will specifically ask for readers to verify or disprove information if I am not 100% sure of its factual accuracy.

That said, the readers of this blog have proven themselves to be an extraordinarily intelligent and insightful group of people. And without you directing me where to go, I would not have been able to make as much progress with this blog during the past 13 months as I have. I hope that this active citizen and government employee participation continues so we can achieve the best results possible for America.

Note: If any readers are interested in volunteering for this site to help me obtain and sort through more information during these busy times, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.