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 ‘Michigan’

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Detroit Regional Census Center a bastion of political patronage and corruption

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Author’s note: This investigation is ongoing and MyTwoCensus.com will be pressing the Census Bureau for details about these cases, which thus far the Census Bureau’s public information office has refused to provide. This investigation is most definitely a personal crusade for me as a main goal of this site is to watch over spending and abolish government corruption. As such, I will be keeping this post at the top of MyTwoCensus.com until 1. The mainstream media reports on this most obvious scandal and 2. The Census Bureau acknowledges their mistakes and fires the individuals involved with these problems.

As 2010 Census operations wind down, the Census Bureau has been forced to get rid of many of its temporary employees. However, the few employees who are still employed at the Detroit Regional Census Center’s “partnership” office have one thing in common: They are closely connected to the Detroit political machine and/or the Democratic Party. And the one current employee who doesn’t fit the above description is Toine Murphy, who was indicted by the State of Michigan for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme.

To give you some background on the word “Partnership” in 2010 Census terms, the Census Bureau created an outreach program for the 2010 Census intended to boost involvement by linguistic, racial, and sexual minorities. The stimulus package gave this program a mega boost when it awarded upwards of $500 million in additional cash to the Census Bureau for outreach efforts, many of which are coordinated by “Partnership Specialists” and “Partnership Coordinators.”

(Some of these partnership employees have been paid more than $85,000 per year at the GS-14 and GS-15 levels of pay for federal employees.)

Let’s look at the cast of characters in the Detroit Regional Census Center who were NOT let go from the Census Bureau — even though “partnership” activities are long finished and the vast majority of employees in this office were let go in early June. The survivors are as follows:

1. Marsha Cheeks is a Democratic former member of the Michigan state House of Representatives. However, she was term-limited in 2008. Apparently, the Census Bureau is where retired politicians are put to work in Michigan. It was likely very easy for Cheeks to get the job though, since her sister is a Detroit Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and her nephew is Detroit’s disgraced former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. (I’m not sure if Ms. Cheeks’ campaign finances have ever been investigated, but it looks like she’s taking quite a lot of money that was intended for her sister’s political campaign rather than hers.)

2. Brian H. White, who likely violated the Hatch Act by running for Detroit City Council in 2009 while a 2010 Census employee. Mr. White also ran for State Representative from Michigan’s 6th District in 2008.

Update: After doing more research, it appears that because Mr. White’s run for State Representative in 2008 ended before his official start date with the Census Bureau (February, 2009) and that he ran for the non-partisan City Council of Detroit (while still a Census Bureau employee) he was not in violation of the Hatch Act. (I was unable to acquire Mr. White’s start date with the Census Bureau until after he announced it himself in the comments section of this post.) However, that is not to say that Mr. White’s ethics aren’t poor as he ran for office while still employed by the 2010 Census in 2009 and likely applied for his Census Bureau position while still a candidate for a partisan position. Furthermore, did Mr. White use his Census Bureau resources (phone, office, etc.) to conduct a campaign on that taxpayer’s dime? In Cincinnati, Bernadette Watson left her position at the Census Bureau under pressure to run for that city’s non-partisan City Council in 2009. That said, because of Mr. White’s strong political connections, it is unclear what their role was in his being hired by the 2010 Census.

A recent profile of Mr. White states, “White has worked as state director for the Michigan Election Protection initiative; a Base Vote Director for the Michigan Democratic Party; political director of America Votes Michigan; and public policy coordinator for the Detroit branch NAACP. His political career is extensive, but hasn’t included a run for public office, until now. ‘I always knew I’d be involved, politically, but I never imagined being a politician, per se.”‘

However, this is a lie, as Mr. White ran for Detroit City Council in 2009 and his Facebook profile picture reveals a photo of his candidacy for City Council. (And here’s the Facebook  group dedicated to his State Rep. candidacy.)

Let’s not forget Mr. White’s family political connection: He is the older brother of Donnell White, the Deputy Executive Director of the Detroit NAACP.

Here’s the Facebook photo currently on his profile:


And another from the Facebook group for the 2009 City Council campaign:

3. Belda Garza is also a former Michigan State Representative (who was term-limited) turned Partnership Specialist employed by the Detroit Regional Census Center and kept on the job after other employees were fired.

4. Linda Clark is the girlfriend of Charles “Charlie” Beckham, who is an associate of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and works as a top aide to current Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. Mr. Beckham has been under fire for his previous criminal conviction.

Now, after speaking with many 2010 Census employees, not a soul can confirm that any of the aforementioned individuals, including Toine Murphy (who has not returned numerous calls or e-mails from MyTwoCensus.com) have done a stitch of work in the past couple of months, let alone even entered the Detroit office. All of these employees can “work from home” and are issued government cell phones to conduct their activities. (If any news organization has the resources to tail these people, I urge you to find out what they’re really up to!)

If all of this isn’t bad enough, the Detroit Regional Census Office is still being quietly led by a man who is under investigation by the Commerce Department Inspector General.

On June 10, the Census Bureau released the following statement: “Detroit Regional Director Dwight Dean is not currently involved in the management of Regional operations.  This is a personnel matter, and Mr. Dean remains in the employment of the Census Bureau.  In compliance with the Privacy Act, the Census Bureau has no further comment.”

According to his official 2010 Census biography,  “Dwight Dean has served as director of the Detroit Regional Office – one of 12 offices that make up the U.S. Census Bureau’s permanent field organization – since 1987.” Over the course of 23 years, Mr. Dean has apparently been making lots of friends in Detroit, and this is where the investigation really heats up.  MyTwoCensus has confirmed many tips that Dean engaged in acts of cronyism and corruption – including gaining financial stake in a Detroit warehouse in return for providing 2010 Census jobs for the individuals mentioned above and others.

To provide an example of Mr. Dean’s cronyism, he fired a hard-working 2010 Census supervisor with no cause and replaced the man with his secretary’s husband. So, as of today, both Barbara and Brad Cotner are on the 2010 Census payroll. (E-mail them at barbara.cotner@census.gov and bradley.j.cotner@census.gov according to a search today on the Commerce Department’s “Person Finder.”)

Two independent sources confirmed to MyTwoCensus.com that the Commerce Department Inspector General is now investigating Dwight Dean, who remains on the Census Bureau’s payroll (doing what job, nobody will say, and of course he never returns calls or e-mails asking for comment). MyTwoCensus.com has been unable to confirm  tips from readers who claim that other federal agencies are also investigating Mr. Dean for a variety of charges including corruption and abuse of power.

MyTwoCensus urges federal, state, and local officials to prosecute the individuals involved with the Detroit Regional Census Center’s shenanigans to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

So Robert M. Groves (a Michiganian himself) and Steve Jost, how are you going to try to spin this story so the Census Bureau doesn’t come off as a bastion of corruption?

Dr. Groves speaking at the University of Michigan on July 16

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Our Counter-In-Chief is returning to his former institution to give a talk on July 16. I’ll do my best to determine if this event is on or off the record. Here are the details from the Chicago Tribune.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: This hire is ok, but a dangerous trend

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Yesterday, a press release from the Census Bureau detailed the hiring of Roderick Little, who will join the U.S. Census Bureau as the new associate director for statistical methodology and standards. The report states, “Little is the Richard D. Remington Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and chaired the Biostatistics Department from 1993 to 2001 and 2006 to 2009. He is also professor of statistics and research professor at University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.” After speaking with statisticians and those familiar with Dr. Little’s work, I am confident that he is an excellent hire for the Census Bureau. My qualm with this hire is that Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves, who studied and worked at the University of Michigan, is bringing in his friends to work for the Census Bureau rather than creating the open, transparent, and fair government that President Obama promised long ago. In the short-term, this hire is fine, but if the Census Bureau starts to look like the University of Michigan faculty club rather than a government agency, my eyebrows will be raised, and yours should be too.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Tell us why Dean was arrested and don’t keep him on the Census Bureau’s payroll

Friday, June 4th, 2010

After more than 22 years as the head of the Census Bureau’s Detroit Regional office, Dwight Dean was mysteriously and suddenly removed from his post earlier this week. Letters to MyTwoCensus.com have cited cronyism, bribery, corruption, inefficiency, and a failure to get the job done as reasons for Mr. Dean’s recent departure.

However, the Census Bureau has been completely mum on the subject and Mr. Dean has not answered or returned calls from reporters seeking clarification about what has happened. The Census Bureau maintains that Mr. Dean remains on the Census Bureau payroll and has not been fired. This makes us wonder: In what capacity is this senior administrator currently serving? Is he on paid leave? Is the Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office or the FBI investigating his actions? The Census Bureau won’t even admit that the man was arrested, as some MyTwoCensus.com sources have alleged.

It would surely be a PR disaster for the Census Bureau to admit that its data from the Detroit region (which includes all of Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia) has been corrupted in some way for the 2010 Census — let alone during the past 22 years of Mr. Dean’s tenure.

Perhaps the comments section of MyTwoCensus.com provide us with the best insight:

He was the KING OF OVERTIME . Lets not find out why things work or do not work , just give blanket overtime. This guy pissed away a lot of overtime money to be number 1 or a close number 2. I also have heard stories about his cruelty to Area Managers . His cruel leadership style affected a lot of his RTs . Dean’s RTs had more power then his AMs , because some RTs were his pals and reported dirctly to him and it caused an uneasiness in the district. Those RTs that Dean brought back over and over again need to be looked at more closely. If nothing else I hope the RT leadership of intimidation comes to an end. You could always tell who was a friend of Dean’s in the RT world.

Another reader wrote:

“It’s a fact not a rumor. Dwight Dean, Regional Director, and all around God was arrested last week for misappropriation of funds. Basically he gave a government contract to a friend of his who owns a warehouse. (A big no no)

Dean did it on the sly by using his government-issued credit cards. He had other (higher ups) who worked for him use their government issued credit cards too.

Last week, US Marshals arrested him at work, escorted him out, the locks were changed, and there were dozens of witnesses. I worked two decennials for “Mr. Dean.”

He was a tyrant and an idiot. The corruption I saw. The waste of taxpayer money.

I’ve been looking over the press releases issued by, of course, the government. What a bunch of b.s… A cover up already. “They” are saying he left for “personnel reasons.” It’s disgusting.
Dean is being paid while on leave and no one will ever know the truth. I used to work in the Detroit Regional Office, Grade 12, – I know what I’m talking about.”

MyTwoCensus.com is currently investigating the information listed above and we hope to have some facts

New state population estimates preview 2010 Census

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The Census Bureau released new state population estimates today, the last set of such data to be published before the 2010 Census.

The new estimates give a preview of which states might gain — or lose — U.S. House seats and funding as a result of next year’s count. The data is also the first population estimate that fully account for the economic recession.

The winners from this year’s estimates:

  • Texas: Texas gained more people than any other state (478,000) between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009, the period covered by the data set.
  • California: The nation’s most populous state with 37 million people, California was second to Texas in the number of people gained — 381,000.
  • Wyoming: Wyoming showed the largest population growth of any state, with a 2.12 percent rise in population in the one-year period.

And the losers:

  • Michigan, Maine and Rhode Island: These were the only three states to show a loss in population for the year. Michigan’s loss was -0.33 percent, Maine’s -0.11 percent and Rhode Island’s -0.03 percent.
  • Florida and Nevada: These states were hit especially hard by the recession. They saw big upticks in population during the early 2000s, but this year experienced a net outflow of residents, meaning more people left the state than moved to it. However, due to births, both states still had an overall population increase.

Overall, the estimates show that fewer people are moving (“domestic migration,” in Bureau speak) — especially to states in the south and west — likely as a result of the poor economy.

USA Today has a fascinating interactive map and chart that compare the new estimates to data from 2000, offering an early look at the changes in congressional representation next year’s Census could bring.

According to their data, states poised to gain House seats include Texas, Georgia, Nevada, Washington, Utah, Arizona, Florida and South Carolina. States likely to lose seats are Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Louisiana.

A round-up of coverage of the new estimates:

Census Bureau press release: Texas Gains the Most in Population
USA Today: Census reports slow growth in states
New York Times: Recession Cuts Migration to Sun Belt, New Figures Show
Bloomberg: Texas Gains Most People in 2008-09, U.S. Census Says
Washington Post: Census: Weak economy caused dramatic slowdown in magnet states

Texas Gains the Most in Population

Keeping Track of Snowbirds in the 2010 Census

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Here’s an important case study from the Detroit Free Press in Michigan about counting “snowbirds” in the 2010 Census (Click HERE for full piece):

Tips on how to fill out the residency information on 2010 census forms.

That’s the message from officials with state and local governments and area agencies on aging, who are trying to educate snowbirds about the importance of making sure they are counted as Michigan residents when census forms are delivered to households in late February and March.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry, who is heading the state’s census count effort, said the state estimates about 200,000 snowbirds were missed or not counted as Michigan residents in the 2000 census. He said the uncounted snowbirds contributed to the state’s loss of a seat in Congress and about $2 billion in federal funds over this decade.

Population counts also affect federal dollars that come to the state for hospitals, schools, senior centers, public works projects and emergency services.

“We have a better understanding of what Michigan will lose,” said Paul Bridgewater of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging. “That’s why we’re working harder this year to minimize the loss of the past.”

Billions in funding relies on snowbirds

Rosanne and William Bowker are among the metro Detroiters preparing to leave Michigan’s cold, snowy winter for Florida’s warm sun.

The Royal Oak couple became snowbirds about four years ago after William retired from Chrysler. The 65-year-olds plan to leave after Christmas for their Ft. Myers campground — complete with its own mailbox — for the next four months.

In past snowbird seasons, their neighbors collected their mail and their daughter sent it to them in Florida. But this season, they are having their mail forwarded by the Post Office.

That means they won’t get the 2010 census form that should hit their Michigan mailbox in March. Census forms are not forwarded by the post office because they are based on the residence, not the person, said Kim Hunter, a census bureau media specialist in Detroit.

Rosanne Bowker admitted she never thought about the census form. But after learning that an estimated 200,000 Michigan snowbirds were missed or not counted in the 2000 census, costing the state a congressional seat and about $2 billion in federal funds, she wants to be counted as a resident of her home state.

“I didn’t realize how important it was,” she said.

State, local and Area Agency on Aging officials said it’s critical that Michigan have an accurate tally of its population in the decennial count to receive federal dollars that are directly tied to population and to maintain political influence in Washington on issues such as the auto industry, health care reform and the Great Lakes.

Kenneth Darga, state demographer, said Michigan lost a congressional seat in the 2000 census by just 50,000 people.

“If a portion of our 200,000″ snowbirds “would have been counted, we wouldn’t have lost that seat,” he said.

Interview With Robert M. Groves: Census Director focuses on putting IT to the test before the big count

Friday, November 27th, 2009

H/t to Gautham Nagesh of NextGov for the following interview with Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves:

Since his confirmation in July, Census Bureau Director Robert Groves has found himself in charge of the costliest and most controversial census to date.

Well-publicized technology issues and budget overruns have hampered the bureau’s preparations for the 2010 count. Last month, Groves told lawmakers that the budget overruns leading to the decennial count’s $15 billion price tag were “intolerable.”

But he told Nextgov on Monday that the bureau plans to push the limits of new technology in tests scheduled for after the Thanksgiving break in hope of making sure the census goes as hitch-free as possible in April 2010.

Groves was the director of the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and served as associate director of the 1990 census in 1990. Nextgov reporter Gautham Nagesh spoke with him on Monday about the preparations for the 2010 census and the bureau’s progress on solving some of the technology problems that the Government Accountability Office and the inspector general found.

Nextgov: What is the status of the bureau’s preparations for the 2010 decennial census, especially concerning the information technology systems needed to support it?

Groves: I came in July and had not been there since 1990. There are a couple things to note on the IT side: First, I’ve been focused clearly on decennial IT issues, not on looking backwards. We have a new chief information officer, Brian McGrath, who came in weeks before me, and he was engaged in sort of the same thing I’m doing — checking the nature of the infrastructure for the decennial.

We had on our table GAO and IG reports concerning the lack of testing in an integrated way of the various subsystems used for the decennial census. We had some outside folks take a look at whether core subsystems were being tested in an integrated way.

We also have a new set of software we’re building as a result of the abandonment of the handhelds that will support paper-based nonresponse follow-up. That is the critical task on the software side I spend the most time on. After Thanksgiving we will perform a load test on systems that will be in action during nonresponse follow-up. We’re going to make sure we break the system to measure the capacity.

The other thing that’s notable from your readers’ perspective: We’re 80 percent through opening 500 different local Census offices, each of which has its own computer network issues. That was done through Harris Corp., part of the Field Data Collection Automation contract. We’ve got 400 local offices up and running, each site is its own little story. After some initial bumps that seems to be going well.

Nextgov: What was the situation like when you arrived regarding IT systems development? What in your view caused or contributed to the IT challenges at the Census Bureau?

Groves: I haven’t spent much time going back and diagnosing those problems. I have to focus on the future.

But I am a believer in certain philosophies when you develop software and hardware products for large, diverse sets of users, including that a user has to be at the table from Day One. The user has to be part of the inspection process for all the intermediate products as they are developed. The notion of writing down all the specs for complex systems and getting them right the first time, having programmers go away for a while and code those specs, that’s an approach that brings with it big risks.

In my past life in software development I have learned from a management perspective that you’ve got to get the user there all the time. They have to be part of the development. Humans can’t anticipate all the features of a software system before they see the first version of it.

But I need to emphasize that my job hasn’t been postmortem on handhelds, I have just not done that.

Nextgov: There were reports that the handhelds had some problems during address canvassing, particularly regarding their mapping function. How are you dealing with those?

Groves: There are two parts of the master address file: the geographical information that provides boundaries for aerial units and the address records. The big good news is that after this gigantic address canvassing operation, the number of records we have is very close to independent estimates of what it should be: 134 million households. That’s a good thing, based on the independent benchmark we get from sample surveys.

Now we’re going out and checking for clusters of records deleted [during address canvassing]. If you were listed in address canvassing and you noted that an address was improperly placed in a block, your job [as a canvasser] was to delete that one address and add it in the correct place [using the handheld]. We’re scrutinizing any clusters of deletes. In some regions we’ve reinspected areas that look suspicious.

Nextgov: What do they find upon reinspection?

Groves: We’re getting spotty results. It’s not a slam-dunk one way or the other. When we go out and have a whole group of addresses deleted, sometimes everything looks fine, sometimes the ones that were deleted were duplicates, and sometimes they were deleted in error. There’s no typical result.

Nextgov: The idea of using the Internet to collect responses was proposed and rejected last year, despite conducting a pilot in 2000. What’s your opinion on allowing responses online? Is that something you think should be explored for 2020?

Groves: My son filled out a questionnaire for the 2000 census on the Internet. The decision to eliminate the Internet option for 2010 was made before I got here. I haven’t diagnosed that decision. I know the most commonly cited reason is concerns about security, which are indeed real and completely legitimate.

Looking forward, I can say I can’t imagine a 2020 census without some Internet use. At the same time, in the same breath we have to know that neither you nor I have any idea what the 2020 Internet is actually going to be capable of. When I say we must have an Internet option, I must admit I’m not quite sure myself. We have to take advantage of the technology; other countries already are. In 2006, 18 percent of Canadian households responded to their census on the Internet.

Nextgov: Do you plan to serve beyond next year? Would you like to be involved in the planning for the 2020 count?

Groves: I serve at the pleasure of the president and will serve as long as he is pleased with my service. I’m terribly interested in 2020 and also interested in innovation in all of the other surveys the Census Bureau does, thousands depending on how you count. The challenge of doing economic and social measurement in this country is never-ending. The rate of innovation lets us use technology in new and important ways; it can change the way we measure the country. That pace has to pick up in any organization like the Census Bureau. I’m terribly interested in being part of that.

Homecoming for Bob Groves

Friday, September 4th, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, SEPT. 3, 2009

Kim Hunter
CB09-CR.05
Detroit Regional Census Center
313-799-1495

Census Bureau Director to Visit Detroit Regional Census Center

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves returns home Friday, Sept. 4, to
Michigan for the first time since he was confirmed as head of the Census
Bureau in July. Groves will visit the Detroit Regional Census Center to
review operational readiness for the 2010 Census and to ensure an
accurate count in Michigan. He will also meet with Wayne County
Executive Robert Ficano.

Prior to his job as Census Bureau Director, Groves was director of the
University of Michigan Survey Research Center. He received his
bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his master’s and doctorate
from the University of Michigan.

With only seven months until Census Day, April 1, 2010, Groves oversees
planning for the 2010 Census, which is on track to be the most accurate
and technologically advanced in our nation’s history. The 2010 Census
will also be the shortest ever with only 10 questions. Census data are
used to distribute congressional seats to states, to distribute more
than $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal
governments each year and to make decisions about what community
services to provide.

Groves’ visit to the Detroit Regional Census Center is closed to the
media, however, he is available upon request for interviews.

Urgent: Census Workers Lost…And Found

Friday, April 24th, 2009

After two Census Bureau employees went missing earlier today, one wonders: Why aren’t GPS systems installed in the handheld computers that all Census Bureau enumerators must carry? Why was there such a lack of communication between supervisors and their employees that the precise location of the employees could not be determined until many hours after they went missing and search efforts were underway from state police, firefighters, and troops?

The Chicago Tribune reported the following when the two employees were found:

STEPHENSON, Mich. – State police say two workers with the U.S. Census Bureau who were stranded on an isolated road in Menominee County have been found after an eight-hour search.

A news release from the Stephenson post said the women’s car got stuck Wednesday night on the seasonal road.

They called for help on a cell phone. But a poor connection prevented dispatchers from pinpointing the women’s location.

Troopers, volunteer firefighters and other law enforcement agencies helped with the search.

Breaking News: Obama’s Pick for Census Bureau Chief

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

According to the AP, the Obama Administration has chosen University of Michigan academic Robert M. Groves to head the Census Bureau. Don’t worry readers, we’ve already requested that Dr. Groves let us interview him before he meets with the mainstream media. Here’s the article:

The White House will announce the selection of Groves later Thursday, according to a Commerce Department official who demanded anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak before the official announcement.

Groves is a former Census Bureau associate director of statistical design, serving from 1990-92. He has spent decades researching ways to improve survey response rates. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take the helm less than a year before the decennial count, which has been beset by partisan bickering and will be used to apportion House seats and allocate billions in federal dollars.

When he was the bureau’s associate director, Groves recommended that the 1990 census be statistically adjusted to make up for an undercount of roughly 5 million people, many of them minorities in dense urban areas who tend to vote for Democrats.

But in a fierce political dispute that prompted White House staff to call the bureau and express opposition, the Census Bureau was overruled by Republican Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher, who called the proposed statistical adjustment “political tampering.”

The Supreme Court later ruled in 1999 that the use of statistical sampling cannot be used to apportion House seats, but indicated that adjustments could be made to the population count when redrawing congressional boundaries.

Current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has said there are no current plans to use sampling for redistricting.

Groves, now a professor at the University of Michigan, would take over at a critical time. Census officials acknowledge that tens of millions of residents in dense urban areas — about 14 percent of the U.S. population — are at high risk of being missed due to language problems and a deepening economic crisis due to the financial meltdown that has displaced homeowners.

The government is devoting up to $250 million of the $1 billion in stimulus money for outreach, particularly for traditionally hard-to-count minorities.

But Hispanic and other groups are warning that traditional census outreach will not be enough, citing in particular rising anti-immigration sentiment after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Republicans, too, have been crying foul after the White House earlier this year indicated that it would take greater control over the census to address minority group concerns about Obama’s initial nomination of GOP Sen. Judd Gregg as Commerce secretary.

Gregg later withdrew his nomination, partly citing disagreements over the handling of the census. The White House has since made clear that Locke will make the final decisions regarding the 2010 head count.

Democrats and Republicans for years have disagreed on whether the census should be based on a strict head count or cross-checked against a “statistical adjustment” to include hard-to-track people, particularly minorities, who might have been missed.

Meanwhile, the cost of the 2010 census is estimated to be $15 billion, the most expensive ever, and experts have long said the Census Bureau must do more to reduce a persistent undercount among minorities, as well as to modernize what is basically a paper mail-out operation that has been in place for decades.