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 ‘NRFU’

NRFU Res operation…

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Last week, MyTwoCensus wrote about a 2010 Census operation called NRFU Residual Follow-Up (yes, that means a follow-up to a follow-up). Now, in the comments section, we hope to hear your stories about this operation, which has been dubbed NRFU RES.

Census Bureau creates a new operation (late in the game)

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

For the past week, MyTwoCensus has received reports that the Census Bureau is undergoing some NEW unscheduled/unplanned operations. The question now is WHY? Was the previous data poor?

Here’s an e-mail that was recently sent to 2010 Census managers:

From:
FLD Decennial Data Collection

To:

FLD Regional Directors, FLD Deputy Regional Directors List, FLD ARCM, FLD 2010 Regional Offices List, TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010/BOC@BOC, FLD Decennial Assistant Division Chiefs List, FLD Decennial Branch Chiefs

Cc:

mtrocki@oig.doc.govfmeny@oig.doc.gov, Fay F Nash/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Barbara H Campbell/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Barbara J Biebl/DACMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Darlene L Monaco/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Susanna J Winder/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Shelley A Walker/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Hilda S Dimmock/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Ellen W Cafarella/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Lucia J Chavez/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Rodney Peter De Peiza/DACMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Annetta Clark Smith/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Nancy E Kolkebeck/PHRCC/BOC@BOC, PHRCC Area Managers List@BOC, Patricia A Boykin/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Eric L Cheevers/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Julia A Shaw/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, FLD Decennial Data Collection@BOC, Irvin Vann/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Kimberly L Canada/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Craig D Ostrom/DACMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, kamro@ics-nett.com, Andrew G Knaster/DACMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Sarah K Heimel/DSSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Geoffrey I Jackson/DSSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, William H Johnson Jr/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC

Date:

07/30/2010 02:11 PM

Subject:

2010 NRFU NRFU Residual Follow-up Ops Log – July 30, 2010

Sent by:

Hilda S Dimmock

ACTION:  July 30, 2010  NRFU Residual Follow-up Ops Log
Regional Census Centers should share the appropriate portions of information in this Ops Log with their LCOs

This is the first Ops Log related to the recently added NRFU Residual Follow-up Operation.  The operation universe, rules and procedures are in the final approval stage, but we are providing the following  field dates to aid in planning:

  • 8/11 Scheduled release of PBOCS for NRFU RES for Assignment Prep
  • 8/12 Begin Field enumeration
  • 8/21 Begin Final Attempt for cases
  • 8/24 End of field enumeration
  • 8/25 All EQs MUST be shipped to the data capture centers

Highlights of the operations are as follows:

  • Training will be similar to VDC in that we will provide a Job Aid for Enumerators, Crew Leaders/Field Operations Supervisors and NRFU Residual section for the Office Manual.
  • We will provide information on the size of the universe by early next week.
  • Assignment Preparation will very similar to NRFU VDC.
  • Field staff active in NRFU VDC will be available in NRFU Res.
  • Enumerators should be encouraged to get as many accurate interviews as possible during the short enumeration period based on the status of the address as of April 1, 2010.   What this means is that they should visit during the best time to catch the occupants at home and to continue to contact every address in their assignment before going back for the second or third attempt.
  • There will be no added HU during the operation.
  • There will be no RI attempts during the operation.
  • The Operation will use Operation Code ’91′ and Task code ’091′ for payroll

——————————————————————————-
> Please reply directly to “FLD Decennial Data Collection”

How to submit inaccurate or incomplete 2010 Census data (and get away with it)

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Last week, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said to Fox News that you can “trust 2010 Census data.” What our director fails to tell us is that the two software applications have operational problems that will ultimately lead to inaccurate data. Just spend a day working in PBOCS, the Paper-Based Operational Control System which processes enumerator questionnaires from the field, or MARCS, the Matching Address Review Coding System which shows a data capture of every questionnaire that was scanned at the Baltimore Data Capture Center and you will see the poor quality of work. Thousands upon thousands of questionnaires are being scanned that show conflicting or incomplete data such as: vacant housing units with a population count, incorrect enumerator IDs, occupied housing units with no demographic information and the list goes on.

During the peak of the non-response follow-up (NRFU) phase of 2010 Census operations (around mid May), the Census switched to a shipping application built off a PeopleSoft/Oracle interface in order to take the load off PBOCS. Although this was a good thought in theory, the application allowed questionnaires to be shipped that were not even checked in PBOCS. In the final closeout days of the operation, PBOCS claimed many questionnaires were not checked in even though enumerators fervently claimed they turned them in. Fortunately some of those were found in MARCS having been received at the data capture center but never scanned for shipping nor checked in. However because there was such a bottleneck sometimes a few weeks between the time they were shipped and scanned; some questionnaires that never showed in MARCS were re-enumerated. Sometimes PBOCS would just revert some cases back to not being checked in. In a mad dash to finish and meet deadlines enumerators submitted second versions of questionnaires with little or less than accurate data replacing what may or may not have been originally submitted. Immediately after offices finished NRFU, headquarters closed the PBOCS to the local census offices to prevent further glitches.

As it has been mentioned time and time again, the Census never made it clear what constituted a completed questionnaire. In such a recession, employees were promised more work if they finished quickly so experienced and resourceful field staff took advantage of the three visit rule sometimes making visits in consecutive days or all in a one day before going to a proxy. Local census offices managers, RCC supervisors and managers developed their own rules which were verbally communicated to field staff. These included guesstimating the population count and allowing enumerators to submit Enumerator Questionnaires (EQs) with little or no demographic information. Since performance was purely based on how many questionnaires get checked in; those who submitted hundreds of forms with nothing on the inside of the questionnaire were rewarded with more work.

On the quality assurance end, the staff attempted to examine the data collected for falsification and poor work quality. However reinterview only has been able to find those who intentionally falsified data. An enumerator can submit inaccurate or incomplete data and practically get away with it.

Most enumerators will be tempted to submit inaccurate data when they cannot gain access to the building, speak to a household member or knowledgeable proxy after repeated visits. The reinterview telephone clerks and field staff have to prove definitively by gaining access to the building or speaking to a respondent who said the interview was never conducted. But in reality the reinterview staff can never access the building, or with large apartment buildings sometimes a proxy is asked about hundreds of units and may not remember if the original interview occurred. Most of these bad data cases have little or no information or wrong information: no names, ages, Hispanic origin, race and sometimes not even a person count. But quality assurance staff have either been told to mark them refusals with an unknown population and check them in.

In the rare instance that the Census Bureaus’s quality assurance (QA) operations do suspect data falsification or inaccuracy, finding the culprit is difficult. There are thousands of questionnaires where the enumerator ID numbers are being read incorrectly at data capture. This invites data falsification in two ways. If a questionnaire is found to be inaccurate or falsified then it is impossible to find the culprit. If quality assurance staff does find an enumerator is submitting falsified or inaccurate work, they can not examine the other questionnaires the enumerator completed because many questionnaires do not have a valid enumerator associated with it.

In the current Vacant/Delete check phase of 2010 Census operations, while the agency covered up their own software problems by closing access to PBOCS, they have also created problems. For hundreds of questionnaires where enumerators clearly marked them vacant or deletes without visiting them LCOs cannot access the system to research who actually submitted this erroneous work.

Most of this is happening now in your local census offices across the country as the re-interview phase winds down. This is because of a huge backlog of EQs that were sent into re-interview, hundreds of outliers, and the slowness of MARCS. This inaccurate data is another smear of shame for the Census Bureau. For Dr. Groves to say that we can trust 2010 Census data is merely a cover-up.

Here are some e-mails sent to 2010 Census managers across the nation that detail the aforementioned problems:

07/18/2010

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT: 1- PW Flags randomly appearing or disappearing on the Select Enumerator screen
2- Loss of notes in the LCO Notes panel on the Evaluate Case screen
3- Cases with missing person data from the 400,000 pushed cases

ACTION: Please share the information with the appropriate field staff

1. PW Flags randomly appearing or disappearing on the Select Enumerator screen
As a result of a MaRCS fix, the PW flag may have been working erratically. It has been reported that the PW flag on the Select Enumerator screen may have disappeared from the screen for already worked enumerators or may have appeared in cases for an enumerator the MaRCS clerk had never worked. This was a temporary issue and has been corrected. For those cases that this issue may have happened, please inform the AMQA they would need to remove the PW flag for the cases where the enumerator has not been worked in MaRCS OR asking the QA Clerk to click on the Edit pencil icon for the enumerator they have been working to reactivate the PW flag if it has disappeared.

2. Loss of notes in the LCO Notes panel in the Evaluate Case screen
As a result of the MaRCS performance issues that LCOs are experiencing, some screens are loading slowly. To avoid losing the notes entered in the Evaluate Case screen, the MaRCS clerk needs to wait until the page has fully loaded. A page is fully loaded when the “Please wait for page to respond” message disappears in MaRCS or when the Windows browser loading indicator (it shows as a progressive number of green squares) at the bottom of the browser also disappears. Please also remind the LCOs to enter the notes in the LCO Notes panel before assigning a final outcome on the case and to save these notes often so they are not lost if the MaRCS session times out.

3. Cases with missing person data from the 400,000 pushed cases
NPC noted that a portion of the 400,000 cases pushed for processing have blank person data in the original interview or the reinterview in cases where the unit status (US field in Review Data screen) shows occupied (OCC). Most if not all of these cases will be deferred to the LCOs due to different unit statuses between the original interview and reinterview. An example of this situation might be, the original interview has an unit status of occupied with 3 people living at the housing unit and the roster and demographic information is blank; and the reinterview shows that the housing unit is vacant (thus no roster or demographic information shown).

The MaRCS clerks should investigate these cases as any other case in LCO Review. For these cases, the MaRCS clerks should focus their investigation on the unit status of the housing unit, determining which one might be correct. When the MaRCS clerk determines the correct unit status, then they should turn their investigation on what might have caused the discrepancies in the data and assign an outcome code based on the investigation results.

07/15/2010

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT: MaRCS NRFU users account maintenance

ACTION: Delete unused MaRCS accounts by noon, Friday 7/16/2010

MaRCS is experiencing performance issues due to the exceeding the number of users accessing and using the system at the same time. Per our teleconference today, attached below are the tallies by LCO of MaRCS accounts issued to users in the LCO. Please review the number of users in each of the region’s LCOs and delete the accounts that are no longer needed.

IMPORTANT – MaRCS accounts should be used for coding MaRCS cases. Limit or eliminate MaRCS uses for purposes other than coding MaRCS cases. Staff assigned to work MaRCS cases are the only staff allowed to have a MaRCS accounts in the LCOs.

The AMT can delete the unused accounts in the LCO. The RMQA needs to work with the AMQA to identify and delete the MaRCS accounts that are no longer needed. For example, we have noticed multiple AMQA roles for a single LCO. It is preferable to only have 1 AMQA role per LCO, as this is the person that has the responsibility to Hard Fail a case. LCOs may have, in rare cases, more than 1 AMQA role if the AMQA has a backup or if there are other AMQAs working shifts.

The AMT instructions to delete users in MaRCS are in their AMT Manual D-650.1, lesson 6. The RMQA can also ask the LSC to run the D-1311M User Role Report to verify user roles and that unused accounts are deleted.

After the accounts are deleted, the MaRCS contractor will measure system performance and inform us if this resolved the issue. Until further notice, please inform the LCOs to use, at most, 4 accounts per LCO OR use accounts not to go over the number of LCOs times 4 per region, the allowed number of MaRCS users.

07/09/2010

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT: Start of the processing of 400,000 cases in MaRCS with data capture issues

ACTION: Please share the information with the appropriate field staff

As mentioned in the last RMQA teleconference, MaRCS held from processing about 400,000 cases that had a data capture problem. The data capture problem was in the population count where a scanning error, as an example, might have returned a population count of 74 when the actual count is 4. These cases were not processed because MaRCS was waiting for a continuation form where one was likely not needed.

MaRCS will start processing these forms starting on Monday, July 09, 2010 and should be finishing by the end of the week. These forms will likely be deferred to NPC from computer matching because the population counts will not match. It is expected that NPC will resolve the majority of these cases because as long as the roster and demographic information matches, the NPC clerks will pass the case.

It is not expected that the LCOs will get to code many of these cases. However, if they do get some of these cases, please remind the LCOs to ignore the population counts and, if the roster and demographic information matches, then pass the case. If the roster and demographic information does not match, then the MaRCS clerk needs to conduct an investigation on the case as any other case in LCO Review.

The other issue this should resolve are the cases that may be showing in the D-3421M Completion and Data Capture Report as not being data captured when there is information in PBOCS that the case was worked and shipped. It is expected that as these cases are processed, many cases showing in this report will be removed.

If you have any questions please contact Hector Merced or Vance Davis at 301-763-8822 or email fld.quality.assurance.branch@census.gov
07/02/2010

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT:

1. Hard Fail Recommendation screen reminders
2. Applicant ID capture error – new known issue and workaround
3. Handling cases where the Address panel information in the Review Case Data screen is outside the LCO or RCC boundaries
4. Reminder on handling duplicate D-1282Ms
5. Update on cases not showing in PBOCS when a D-1282M exists in MaRCS
6. MaRCS clerk observation forms for both UE and NRFU

ACTION: Please share the information with the appropriate field staff

1. Hard Fail Recommendation screen reminders
Some regions have informed us that Hard Fail cases are not showing in the D-831M Hard Fail Report after the AMQA assigns a hard fail code to a case. This is due to the AMQA not entering notes in a timely manner in this screen (MaRCS times out) or exiting the screen before clicking the Save button. Please remind the AMQAs to be prepared to enter the notes and the LCO managers’ decisions prior to coming to this screen. It is suggested the AMQA has the notes ready in a notepad so they can quickly be entered on the screen along with the AMFO/LCOM decisions. The notes for a hard failed enumerator should not be lengthy since all LCO managers are in agreement with the outcome.

Not entering and properly saving these notes in this screen has also affected the D-831M Hard Fail Report. This is a defect that the MaRCS contractor is fixing today. An updated report with these cases should be available early next week. Also, as a result of this defect, D-1282M Transcription Reports were not generated for these hard failed enumerators. The fix to the report will also correct this defect, so LCOs should expect next week D-1282Ms with the completed eligible cases for the hard failed enumerator that needs to be reinterviewed.

2. Applicant ID capture error – new known issue and workaround
There is another known issue where valid applicant IDs and names show in MaRCS cases but the enumerator showing in the case does not work in that LCO. The rest of the data displayed for the case will belong to the LCO and the only inaccurate data is the applicant ID and name of the enumerator in the case. This happens when the applicant ID was incorrectly captured at the data capture center and it happened to match a valid ID from another enumerator in another LCO. The MaRCS clerk needs to review this case as any other and assign a final outcome code based on the case investigation (PASS, SOFT FAIL, DK/NO SUSP, or DK/SUSP).

If the MaRCS clerk reviewing the case is recommending to hard fail the case and the LCO managers agree to hard fail the case, please DO NOT HARD FAIL THIS CASE . Doing this will cause the enumerator outside the LCO being flagged as a Hard Fail enumerator. Have the MaRCS clerk Soft Fail the case. Using the case ID, please look if the LCO can identify the enumerator that actually worked the case in the LCO (or the RMQA can send the case ID to QAB to get that information). Once the correct enumerator is identified for the reviewed case, the AMQA can then Non-RI Fail the enumerator. This will ensure the right enumerator is hard failed and the completed eligible cases for this enumerator are reinterviewed.

No action is required if the reinterviewer name and applicant ID displayed in MaRCS is outside the LCO boundaries. The Reinterview panel information in the Review Case Data screen will belong to the LCO.

3. Handling cases where the Address panel information in the Review Case Data screen is outside the LCO or RCC boundaries
Some regions have said that they have cases from other LCOs or are outside the RCC boundaries. This is a known issue that happens for added housing units during NRFU. This is another data capture issue where the LCO was incorrectly captured for the added housing unit. There is no viable solution to transfer these cases to the appropriate LCO. Please instruct the LCOs to PASS these cases and include in the Notes the reason for the pass is the case is outside the LCO/RCC boundaries.

4. Reminder on handling duplicate D-1282Ms
This is a reminder to the LCOs to ignore the D-1282Ms that are duplicates. There might instances where MaRCS created 2 or more D-1282Ms for the same case ID. Please inform the LCOs to reinterview only one of the cases and to ignore all other possible duplicated D-1282Ms.

5. Update on cases not showing in PBOCS when a D-1282M exists in MaRCS
We got confirmation that MaRCS has passed all information to PBOCS as of 6/29/2010. From now on, the sponsor division will monitor that PBOCS receives the data from MaRCS and will inform QAB when PBOCS did not acknowledge receiving the data. We will inform the regions when the MaRCS cases were not received in PBOCS and provide guidance when this happens.

Also, DOTS staff will send back to the LCOs the Remedy tickets created when the case exists in MaRCS and not in PBOCS. The LCOs will be asked to see if the information is in PBOCS, as we have been given confirmation the information from MaRCS was acknowledge in PBOCS as of 6/20/10.

Unless QAB sends information to the regions that PBOCS did not acknowledge the data, a case not appearing in PBOCS is a PBOCS issue and not a MaRCS issue. Please inform the LCOs to submit the Remedy tickets to PBOCS and not MaRCS.

6. MaRCS clerk observation forms for both UE and NRFU
We have been told that MaRCS observation forms have been sent to NPC along with the NRFU enumerator observation forms. Please ask the LCOs not to send to NPC the MaRCS Observation forms. QAB will soon issue a disposition ops log for these forms and all other forms used in the investigations.

If you have any questions please contact Hector Merced or Vance Davis at 301-763-8822 or email fld.quality.assurance.branch@census.gov
07/01/2010 – New ops log for July

ATTENTION : 2010 Census Managers

SUBJECT: Clarification on 6/30/2010 ops log (Selecting additional cases for supplemental reinterview — Urgent Request)

ACTION: Please share the information with the appropriate field staff

Many of the regions have said that some of the cases for this special project cannot be sent to supplemental RI. The RMQAs need to check that the LCOs followed the following steps before sending the case IDs to the QAB branch as invalid case IDs. There are 4 possible reasons these cases cannot be sent to reinterview–the case has an invalid applicant ID, the case does not exist in MaRCS, the case has already been reinterviewed, or the case is ineligible for reinterview. All these scenarios are explained below.

The first step they need to do is check the case exists in MaRCS. This is done by clicking on the Case Search option at the top of the Welcome screen. The person selecting the supplemental case can then check if the case exists by entering the case ID in the Case ID box and ensuring the All Cases radio button is selected. If the case exists, please check that the Enumerator Name column has an enumerator name in it. If it does not, this is a case that has an invalid applicant ID and cannot be sent to RI. Please send these case IDs to the QAB branch. If the case search does not bring a case (the screen is blank for that case), then the case does not exist in MaRCS. Please send these case IDs to the QAB branch.

Also check in this screen if the case has already been sent to RI. The screen will show in the Outcome column the final outcome code assigned to the case. For this case, the RMQA needs to update the spreadsheet to record the results of this case. Please also send these case IDs to the QAB branch.

If the case exists, then the clerk selecting the supplemental cases need to be back at the Welcome screen to start the process of selecting the supplemental cases. At the Welcome screen, they need to click on Select RI Cases at the top (in the Menu bar). This will bring up the Select Supplemental RI Cases screen. The next step is to select the enumerator for the selected case. This is done by clicking on the drop down box labeled Select an Enumerator. It is likely that the first several entries on this drop down box are those cases with invalid IDs. Please ensure the clerk selecting the cases scrolls down the list until the enumerator name is found. When the enumerator name is found on the drop down box, click on it to bring up the cases for that enumerator. The clerk needs to scroll down the list until he/she finds the case. MaRCS will show a certain number of cases per screen, please ensure the clerks goes through all the screens with cases. This is done by clicking on the pagination links at the top right corner of the screen. Once the case/s are found, click on the Select column check box to send the case/s to supplemental RI. Please remind the LCOs not so select a precipitating case in the Enter Case Selection Details screen. The note the clerk can enter there can be “Special project.”

If after the clerk goes through all the screens looking for the case ID and the case is not included for the enumerator, the case then is ineligible for RI. Please send these case IDs to the QAB branch.

We do not know at this point if these cases will be replaced with other cases. We will let the regions know if we get replacement cases for these invalid case IDs.

If you have any questions please contact Hector Merced or Vance Davis at 301-763-8822 or email fld.quality.assurance.branch@census.gov

Pew Research Center: 22% of NRFU based on proxy interviews is bad news for accuracy

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Despite yesterday’s claims by Robert M. Groves that the 2010 Census is accurate and trustworthy, the fact that 22% of NRFU interviews were done by proxies is scary. D’Vera Cohn writes the following:

As the 2010 Census information-gathering phase winds down and the Census Bureau turns to quality-checking and data-processing, Director Robert Groves offered some statistics at a recent operational briefing to assess how the national count has gone thus far. One indicator, the quality of the address list, appears to have improved since the 2000 Census. Another, the share of proxy interviews, has worsened.

The foundation of a good census is having a complete list of addresses because Americans are counted at their homes or the other places they are living. The quality of the address list is important in aiding census-takers who head out on follow-up visits to people who did not return their mailed-out questionnaires.

During the recent non-response follow-up operation, Groves said, census-takers found fewer non-existent addresses on their rounds in 2010 than their counterparts had in 2000. In 2000, 6 million non-existent addresses were deleted from the list because census-takers could not find them. In 2010, 4.1 million were deleted. During follow-up visits, census-takers also are supposed to look for addresses that are not on the official list, so they can be added. In 2010, Groves said, “we had fewer adds proportionately” compared with 2000, although he said this is not as much of a “hard quality indicator” because it could mean that census-takers did not follow procedures for including new addresses.

On another quality measure, Groves said census-takers who were trying to collect information at addresses from which census forms were not received had to rely more heavily on neighbors and building managers than was the case during the 2000 Census. In 2000, about 17% of follow-up interviews were from proxies, not from the householders themselves, compared with 22% in 2010. This is of concern because proxy data traditionally has been less accurate than information that people provide about themselves. Groves said “this fits the expectation we had with regard to the cooperation of the American public.” Some people were never home during repeated visits by census-takers; others refused to provide information about themselves.

Census Bureau Press Release About Today’s Press Conference

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Here it is, more details and analysis coming soon:

Census Bureau Director Reports 2010 Censuson Schedule, Under Budget
Census Moves into Quality Assurance Operations to Help Ensure Complete,
Accurate Count

As census takers across the nation finish the 2010 Census door-to-door
follow-up operation, the U.S. Census Bureau has entered the quality
assurance phase, where select households around the country will be
contacted by a census worker. Three major operations occur this summer that
mark the peak of efforts to ensure data accuracy.

The 2010 Census is on schedule and significantly under budget but not
fully completed. The Census Bureau systematically re-interviews 5 percent
of the households that each census worker visits to confirm that all of the
600,000 census takers followed training protocols and produced accurate
data.

“We thank the American public for their participation in our
door-to-door follow-up phase and for their continued patience as we enter
the next vital stage of the 2010 Census,” said Census Bureau Director
Robert M. Groves. “We ask that if you are one of the few homes
re-interviewed, called or visited this summer during our quality assurance
operations, please take a few minutes to help us ensure that the 2010
Census is complete and accurate.”

Groves expressed confidence that census takers are doing a quality job,
and he reaffirmed that the current process enables the Census Bureau to
catch any errors or corner-cutting and initiate immediate corrections.

In the coverage follow-up operation, the Census Bureau calls households
to eliminate confusion about the number of people reported in a household
to make certain there are no missing or double-counted individuals. As the
nation experiences one of the highest vacancy rates in recent years, the
vacant/delete check operation requires census workers to visit households
that were listed as vacant on April 1 (Census Day) to double-check that no
individual has been left out. The field verification operation verifies the
location of addresses provided by Be Counted forms or through telephone
interviews to ensure everyone is counted in the correct location.

“Decades of census taking have taught us the importance of the quality
assurance phase, and we know crucial federal funding and congressional
apportionment relies heavily on our ability to produce an accurate census
count,” Groves said. “That is why these quality assurance operations —
inspired by our mantra to count everyone once, only once, and in the right
place — are critical to our country’s future.”

Census Bureau Press Conference in 2 hrs…

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Though the Census Bureau is holding a press conference today, they never bothered to send an e-mail out about it. It’s a great way to dodge tough questions by not having reporters at a press conference…

What:
As the 2010 Census reaches another milestone, U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves will brief the media on the status of operations. Groves will announce America’s progress as the door-to-door follow-up phase concludes and discuss the next steps in field operations. The briefing will include a media question-and-answer session.

When:
Wednesday, July 7, 1 p.m. (EDT)

Who:
Robert M. Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau

Where:
National Press Club, 13th floor
Holeman Lounge
529 14th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20045

Members of the media may also participate by telephone. (Please dial-in early to allow time for the operator to place you in the call.)

Dial-in number: 888-603-8938
Passcode: 2010 CENSUS

Online Press Kit:
Event materials will be posted online shortly after the event begins and can be accessed by clicking on the 2010 Census Operational Press briefing at <http://2010.census.gov/news/press-kits/operational-press-briefing/>.

Webcast:
There will be a live webcast of the briefing, accessible at <http://www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=69687> noon (EDT) on event day.

The Census Bureau’s Equal Employment Opportunity Data: Complaints yes, resolutions no

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

With hundreds of thousands of Americans working for the 2010 Census, there are sure to be some individuals who feel as if they were improperly treated by their employer. Ttoday, MyTwoCensus.com will take a look at the Equal Employment Opportunity Data provided by the Census Bureau.

(Note: We only have data available for the first quarter of 2010, and NRFU operations didn’t begin until the second quarter. As the second quarter ended yesterday, we hope that this information will soon be available.)

During the past few months, MyTwoCensus.com has received dozens hundreds of e-mails from individuals who feel that they have been mistreated or discriminated against during their time as Census Bureau employees.

(Please feel free to share your stories in the comments section.)

MyTwoCensus has also heard from multiple sources that LCOs (local census offices) have done everything in their power to suppress individuals who wish to file complaints with the EEO and prevent them from filing such complaints, thus skewing the data. Given the large number of people who participated in Address Canvassing operations in 2009, MyTwoCensus is actually surprised how few complaints there have been. What disturbs me most is how few claims are actually found to be valid:

Check the data out for yourself here.

MyTwoCensus.com is now working to obtain more detailed information about the nature of complaints and what regions/municipalities they comes from.

What’s the deal with Mississippi?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

A few weeks ago, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said that the 2010 Census advertising campagin was finished. Later, he said that the Census Bureau was still working to advertise in Mississippi. Yesterday, I published an article from Mississippi that complained about the lack of advertising dollars from the Census Bureau spent in the state:

Much of the blame has to fall on the Census Bureau. In the past, the Bureau used the American Association of Advertising Agencies and national media groups to provide millions of dollars of donated advertising to motivate readers and viewers to fill out and return their forms. That was not done this year.

If anyone reading this blog has knowledge about 2010 Census operations in Mississippi, please be sure to let us know!

From the mailbag: Quality Control

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Any other re-interview problems out there besides what is written below?

I am a crew leader in Broward County on NRFU RI(Non Response Follow-Up Re-Interview).  We do quality assurance on interviews by re-interviewing a percent of all households who did not mail in their forms, but were counted by a Census Taker.  NRFU (Non Response Follow Up), the operation that conducted the original interviews, is finishing up here and will be over this week.  The LCO has started moving a few enumerators from NRFU over to NRFU RI !!!  That means, they will be checking THEIR OWN WORK! Since Crew Leaders have to assign jobs based on the area the enumerator lives in, and there is no way to know who conducted the original interview – these transferred crew members could very possibly quality control their own work and get paid for it.  Beautiful! How could the count possibly be correct when stuff like this is going on? The things I have seen go on in this Census is absolutely unbelievable!  It has changed the whole way I feel about my beloved country and what I think the true capability of our government is in other areas.

What is going on in the New York Region?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
MyTwoCensus has been getting alot of email flooding our inbox from around the New York Region. Here are just some of the claims. Can anyone verify or dispute these claims?

Hudson County North 2214
A crew leader bragged to me today that he finished NRFU early because a lot of his units returned their census forms. I suspect the reason they finished so quickly is because they marked a lot of housing units duplicate claiming the respondent returned their census form when in fact they didn’t. In the manual it says that if there is a XXXX in the status, date columns and a name in the address listing it means the respondent returned their census form. An enumerator should only visit those units with a blank date and status columns and no name. Each binder should contain about an average of 40 NRFU addresses to visit. In urban areas however a census block usually has more than 40 NRFU addresses to visit so the block comprises of several assignments. In order to prevent duplication of work, a NRFU address will be XXXXed in one binder with no name and blank in another binder.
However some of the crews in mY LCO interpreted this differently. They sat around with their binders and if they found an XXXX in one binder and blank in the other they marked duplicate for the NRFU address claiming that the respondent returned their form when in fact they were never counted. The insanity is that they rewarded these people with extra work by bringing them to New York City.

Bronx Office LCO Unknown
I work as a reinterview clerk in quality assurance. Everytime a questionnaire gets flagged for reinterview it arrives in quality assurance with a small red R written in the right margin. One of us transcribes the respondent information and any notes to a green questionnaire. Without looking at the interview results we telephone the respondent and ask him if a census bureau employee visited their household recently. If the answer is yes then we conduct an abbreviated interview asking them the status of the unit on census day, the number of people and just the names of the household members.
However one of my managers told me that in another office the clerks were just transcribing the respondent information and household member names onto the green questionnaire and said their interview was conducted when in fact it was not. What a great way to get 100% accuracy in your quality check!
New York West 2233
Stephen as you know there have been several high rise buildings in affluent areas we are unable to get into.I believe there is a lot of ambiguity and the Census Bureau is implementing procedures in an attempt to hide this unsureness to prevent the City of New York to possibly dispute the count.
There are two boxes on the back of the enumerator questionnaire which isn’t mentioned in the manuals. The two boxes are REF  and CO which stand for refusal and closeout. We are being told to mark the REF and CO boxes when we are at 95% or above. In order to get to 95% we can take a headcount and write in the margin that the respondent refused or didn’t know on all the questions. But that does not justify marking the CO box. If the respondent opens the door and refuses then it is better to mark a population count of 1 but do not mark the REF box.If a real estate management company refuses you access but is willing to tell you how many people live in the building then the enumerator can assume the total number of people in each housing unit is the total population of the building divided by number of units in the building and the enumerator can be the proxy. However they are still not to mark the CO or REF box.
The only time they are allowed to mark the CO or REF boxes are when they absolutely do not know the population and can not use any of the techniques mentioned above. I believe the Census is trying to minimize and cover up the number of housing units they are unable to obtain census day data. Are the number of refusals and closeouts aggregated and made publicly available to municipalities and city and state governments?

Queens County 223?
Several of crew leaders were speaking one night over drinks and one of them told us they were going to help out in Manhattan because they completed NRFU so quickly. They said that would just use the names off the mailboxes. He even said to me that that’s how the Census works, you work quickly you get more work. I asked him if he ever thought about data falsification and he said he never got caught. Apparently since they could never make contact anyways at these houses after several visits that if they got reinterview the enumerator would probably not be able to make contact anyways. He says that by the time they caught that NRFU would be over but not before he got some more work in Manhattan.
New York West 2233
We have at least one building we can’t get into and RCC is working on getting us access. Last week my crew leader informed me to bring in all my EQs and binders. Apparently another crew leader from Chinatown, and the Lower East Side areas who finished NRFU in just three weeks are going to take our work. I was told the other day when my crew leader met with our group that the other FOS district finished the entire building. How is this even possible Chinatown and Lower East Side finished in three weeks, they have so many tenement buildings and illegal immigrants who speak like Spanish and five different Chinese dialects? How did they gain access to the building and how did they finish enumeration in just one day?

Monday Mailbag: Not allowed to report overtime

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Subject: Overtime pay

Message Body:
I work in Houston, and want to post anonymously due to not wanting a backlash, and loss of job.  I am a position of management for the Census, and what is being done is illegal.  We are expected to produce high numbers, in a short amount of period.  The worse part about it, is we are NOT expected to receive overtime.  We have been instructed to doctor our time cards,  in order to not be paid overtime (ie putting hours worked on the next weeks timecard).  The Census employee manual specifically states that this should not happen.  I hope this is brought to attention, to bring Census employees their rightful due.

Monday Mailbag: Information over the phone legit?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

We got a lot of mail this weekend. I’m going to try to answer some of it here and post the rest of it for readers to comment on:

Subject: Falsifying data

Message Body:
I live in midtown Manhattan.
I got a flier on my door asking me to call the census office and give them my information over the phone.  Is that legal? The commericials all say a census taker will come to the door.

ANSWER (from a New York Census official): YES, WE CAN NOT GET INTO THE &$%$^# BUILDING. LET US INTO THE &^%#*@ BUILDING!

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves says that operations are winding down; Mass #layoffs ahead at the #2010 #Census

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

We knew this day would come. Yesterday, Robert M. Groves tweeted and blogged that 2010 Census operations are winding down.

Groves wrote, “As of Sunday, we have completed and checked-in about 44 million enumerator forms for this operation of the approximately 47 million; we’re at about 93% complete in this operation. We are somewhat ahead of schedule and certainly under-budget.”

My first (snarky) comment is that its not hard to be under-budget when you are given a $15 billion blank check that is more than triple what your predecessors had to work with in 2000.

My second, realistic comment, is that there are still 3 million households that have not been counted. With the end of operations looming near, this invites fraud on many levels, as individuals will likely be pressured by their higher-ups, all the way through the chain of command back to Census Bureau Headquarters in Suitland, Maryland to get forms completed come hell or high water.

Subtly, Dr. Groves also warned of mass layoffs in the coming days. He wrote;

However, for many we will have to say our goodbyes. It is to them that this entry is dedicated –

You were among the best labor force for a decennial census in decades; you brought to the census family the strongest set of skills and intelligence, the best work experience, incredible flexibility, and a strong devotion to serving the American public by devoting your talents to the 2010 Census. On behalf of the full Census Bureau family, I thank you for your service to the country, and I wish you well in the next steps in your careers. I hope some of the experiences you had during this massive, complicated, messy effort will provide knowledge that makes you a better employee in your next endeavor. Thank you again.

Also, please say a warm and fuzzy goodbye to Obama Administration job creation statistics that were inflated by Census Bureau hires!

New #Census report from the Inspector General…

Monday, June 14th, 2010

It’ s only four pages and the last part of the report consists of recommendations based on problems highlighted earlier. Please post your comments below. Given how critical this report is, we can only imagine how scathing the next full report from the Inspector General will be.

http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/2010/OAE-19893-01.pdf

MyTwoCensus analysis:

1. Respondents are facing additional burdens because questionnaires are not being handled properly. The report doesn’t go far enough in criticizing the Census Bureau for creating a system whereby sensitive data is just laying around for long periods of time , thereby compromising the data’s confidentiality.

2. As has been discussed in recent weeks on MyTwoCensus.com, there are no guidelines that state whether enumerators can use the Internet to determine proxy information. A memo was sent out about this a couple of weeks ago, informing field workers not to use the Internet, but it is unknown whether this memo reached everyone. Either way, it was sent way too late in the operation to be effective as most enumerators are likely already set in their ways of tracking people down.

3. That 1/3 of interviews were proxy interviews is an unacceptably high figure.

4. Enumerators should never have to give out their personal phone numbers unless they are being compensated by the government or have this written into their contract as part of their job description.

Robert M. Groves to update the media today…

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Of course the PR and spin forces will be at work, but hopefully the media does its best to fight them…please leave your questions for Dr. Groves in the comments section. I will live-blog this event later today:

NewswireToday – /newswire/ – Washington, DC, United States, 06/01/2010 – U.S Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves will brief the media on the status of 2010 Census operations.

What:
U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves will brief the media on the status of 2010 Census operations. One month into the door-to-door follow-up phase of operations, Groves will provide updates on America’s progress in responding to the 2010 Census. He will offer his views on where we are in the process and look ahead to future field operations. The briefing will include a media question-and-answer session.

When:
Wednesday, June 2, noon to 1 pm (EDT)

Who:
Robert M. Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau
Fernando E. Armstrong, regional director, Philadelphia Regional Office

Where:
National Press Club, 13th floor
Holeman Lounge
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20045

Ed O’Keefe on James O’Keefe (no relation)

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post has added some more info tot he James O’Keefe narrative from earlier today:

“Workers are instructed to report hours they work, which would include their time traveling to and from training,” said spokesman Stephen Buckner. “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 two 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 time sheets 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. ”

A Census Bureau official also noted that O’Keefe’s decision to videotape the training sessions appears to violate Commerce Department policies against recording conversations.

O’Keefe confirmed that he worked for the agency last summer for about a month compiling addresses as part of 2010 Census preparations. He was hired again this April and quit after two days of training before receiving further instructions in order to avoid any privacy concerns, he said in an interview.

Breaking News from Breitbart: Census waste caught on tape in undercover sting operation

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Conservative activist James O’Keefe (of ACORN fame) has produced the following video. It will be aired on Good Morning America later today:

Daily Sound Off: The Plight of the Crew Leader

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Many readers have suggested that during these NRFU operations MyTwoCensus should provide a place strictly for workers to vent their frustrations, whatever they may be. I will start taking the best e-mail that I receive each day, publish it here, and hopefully readers will also vent a bit in the comments section. Here’s the inaugural e-mail:

In the past week, I have been told that:
1) NRFU is winding down and our CLD’s should wrap everything up by:
a) 5/26
b) 5/28
c) 6/7
d) 6/18
2) That I must complete enumerator progress reports on a daily basis [In the past week, CLs have received 5 different versions w/varying rubrics to track enumerator progress in this new paperwork about paperwork].
3) That my top priority should be:
a) completing/submitting EQ’s
b) completing/submitting binders
c) completing/submitting D-308′s
d) calling new enumerators, only to inform them I have no work for them but they can come to CLD meetings to get their min. hours each week. (I am also required to observe them in the field and then have them share a binder w/one of my regular enumerators, even though remaining EQ’s in my CLD are few and far between.)
4) That my other top priority is to complete various forms of paperwork about completing tasks listed in 3)a-d every day and submit all information to the LCO w/in 24 hours of the date completed.
5) That I am not authorized for overtime, and should delegate more work to my CLA.  Also, that my CLA is not authorized to sign anything that needs to be signed and submitted in order too accomplish task 4).

I also found out that CLs in earlier operations were making $2.00/hr more.

Although I realize that I am “guaranteed” up to 40 hours each week, I make $1.50 more than my enumerators and am expected to take on a level of agita that almost makes unemployment more attractive than a weekly paycheck.

Rumor: PBOCS is down for good…

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

OK, everyone, I am using this board to try to find some answers about the state of PBOCS (paper-based operations control system) across the US. As of this week (yesterday and today), is the PBOCS system working in your area? How have technical glitches harmed 2010 Census NRFU (non-response follow-up) operations? What have you heard from your higher-ups about 2010 Census operations for the coming week? I know it’s like beating a dead horse in that I’ve discussed these issues over and over again, but it seems like in many places the problems have still not been corrected, so let’s get some reports from the ground. Please state your approximate location in the comments section. Thanks!

MyTwoCensus Editorial: For the sake of employees, tell the truth about how long NRFU operations will last

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

MyTwoCensus has received confidential reports from multiple Census Bureau officials that non-response follow-up operations in many parts of the country are winding down. By law, the Census Bureau can only contact non-responders three times in person and three times by phone — even though MyTwoCensus is currently investigating whether additional illegal contacts are taking place.

Because of the Census Bureau’s computer failures, the 2010 Census may be coming in over-budget (apparently $15 billion wasn’t enough cash…). Since the Census Bureau doesn’t want to take yet another scolding from the Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office, they may try to abruptly end the 2010 headcount ASAP.

With half a million workers on the streets during this large-scale operation, there is significant amounts of confusion about how long jobs will last. Lying to Census Bureau employees, who very well may lose their jobs within the next one or two weeks (by the end of May) is not the answer. Yes, these jobs are temporary, but working through the end of July meant an additional two months of security and stability for many individuals employed by the Census Bureau who may have quit lower paying jobs to take on these positions. Additionally, it seems to be that thousands of individuals went off unemployment to take their Census Bureau jobs. These people should not have been told that they would have 6-8 weeks of work if they really only have 4 weeks of work.