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 ‘PIO’

Breaking News & MyTwoCensus Payrollgate Investigation: The Census Bureau has failed to pay thousands of employees!

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

SHOW ME THE MONEY! It’s simple. When you’ve got hundreds of thousands of employees working for you, pay them on time. MyTwoCensus.com has received more than a dozen complaints within the past 12 hours from Census Bureau employees, at offices throughout the nation, who have not been paid on time. It is unknown whether this inexcusable error by the Census Bureau is a result of computer system failures (a problem that has plagued the Census Bureau for months if not years — even though Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said two days ago that the problems were fixed). Even though most of the 500,000+ Census Bureau employees who are out in the field this week are temporary employees, they still depend on this income from the federal government. A great number of these temporary employees were unemployed before their Census Bureau work came about, and thus are now living paycheck to paycheck. Unfortunately, when those paychecks don’t come, everyone is hurt. This is particularly damning because many employees lost their unemployment benefits to take Census Bureau jobs, and will have an extremely hard time getting these payments again once the work is finished.

(Interestingly, a marketing firm called GA1 that had a contract with the Census Bureau publicly accused the government of not paying them on time back in March, but it’s unknown to me at this time whether the situation was resolved.)

One disgruntled employee wrote me the following about her experience, which sounds more like a Kafka novel than an account of living and working in the world’s greatest democracy:

I started working for the census on April 12, 2010. My first paycheck was supposed to be deposited on April 28 but it wasn’t. I called my LCO that day and was informed they entered the wrong account number into their system. They asked me for the correct account number and told me that they updated the system. Next they told me that I had to call the hotline to start the re-issuance process for the missing check. I did as instructed and was told it would take 5-7 business days to be deposited into my acct. The next payday was May 5 and check #2 isn’t there and #1 is still “missing”. I again call the hotline (got the answering machine the first 20+ times) when I finally found a human they wanted to take a message, I refused because I had left countless messages with no return call. So I waited on hold for over 25 minutes. I was told again that the check would be reissued in 5-7 days. Week 3 pay date May 12, finally a paycheck! However it was only for the last pay period. #1 and #2 still missing. I called the hotline today and I’m getting the run-around. They won’t tell me anything! I called DOL and was told they can’t help because technically I’m a federal employee and they gave me another number to call. I called this number and was told they couldn’t help because I was a temporary employee. What can I do? I need my money, I am a single mom with kids to feed. Right now I’m wishing I would have just stayed on unemployment. To top it all off, the uncaring attitude of my LCO doesn’t help… they just say don’t worry. You’ll be paid eventually, we don’t know when but eventually.

To the hundreds of thousands people who are victims of this lax payment plan by the government, know that I am here to fight for you. Please submit your stories in the comments section below. This behavior by the Census Bureau is unacceptable. Today, I am calling Dr. Groves (the Census Bureau Director), Steve Jost (the Census Bureau’s Communications Director), the Public Information Office, and officials who are responsible for the payroll to get to the bottom of this mess.

For now, MyTwoCensus.com urges ALL EMPLOYEES who have not been paid to contact your Member of Congress and your Senators. Go to their offices if you can, but if not, lodge complaints by phone and e-mail. If you wish, please send me your complaints privately as well. MyTwoCensus is in contact with both Democrat and Republican Members of Congress who will hopefully be able to have some clout to get this problem resolved immediately.

UPDATE: Here’s another update from an anonymous Census Bureau employee Asheville, North Carolina, which to my knowledge is the only place where the media has actually reported these problems:

No one out of the Asheville office was paid properly today. I received 0. Three of my crew also received 0. two got 1 days pay/ 5 got 2 Days pay.
When manager raised cain was threatened with firing.
One enumerator had to borrow 8 dollars for gas to get home. One is threatened with eviction from her trailer.
Asheville LCO told another enumerator to expect to be paid on the 26th.
Asheville LCO said not to worry it was a nationwide computer glitch.
Asheville did not care that these folks had been out of work and need the money…especially the gas they have been buying to do the job.
Please do not use my name or email or I will get fired too.
We heard from other census workers in different cld that they also had widespread pay issues.
No one we heard from in Asheville district got the correct pay.
What can we do? If we raise a stink they will fire us.
The Census is now hiring at $9.00 per hour. we were hired at $11.50/ Are they trying to force us out to hire cheaper workers?

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Take more questions at press conferences and fix your e-mail account!

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Yesterday, Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert M.Groves held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC to answer questions from the media about 2010 Census operations. By reading media reports from across America, it is evident that most media workers don’t truly grasp what the 2010 Census is. After Dr. Groves’ gave his talk, the media had the opportunity to ask questions. The talk started at around 9:00AM and the Q&A portion of the press conference commenced at around 9:20. By 9:35 Census Bureau press spokesman Stephen Buckner ended the Q&A section when, as Buckner acknowledged, there were certainly people on the telephone who were participating in the press conference who still had questions to ask. This was wrong, as there were many questions that Dr. Groves didn’t have a chance to answer. (We will post the transcript of the press conference as soon as we get it.)

Though Mr. Buckner and the Census Bureau have stated that the media can e-mail the press office at pio@census.gov to ask further questions, that e-mail address is not currently functioning. This is the year 2010 (duh) and such a simple tech failure is inexcusable. The Public Information Office must 1. Take more questions from the media and not keep press conferences to approximately thirty minutes (rather than holding a standard one hour press conference) and 2. Fix the Census Bureau’s e-mail system immediately.

Here’s a screenshot of the failed e-mail:

Jost: Cisneros Is My Chief Publicity (Read: Oversight) Flack

Friday, July 17th, 2009

MyTwoCensus obtained the following internal Census Bureau document…Look who will be responsible for the oversight of the $200 million contract with DraftFCB, a fellow PR flack rather than an ACCOUNTANT or someone with OVERSIGHT EXPERIENCE:

FROM THE DESK OF STEVE JOST
Associate Director for Communications

I am pleased to announce the selection of Raul E. Cisneros as Chief of the
Census 2010 Publicity Office, effective July 19,2009.  In this role he will
be responsible for the management of the 2010 Integrated Communications
Campaign and the oversight of the multimillion dollar contract with
Draftfcb.
Prior to this position Raul served as Chief of the 2010 Census
Media Relations Branch in the Public Information Office where he was in
charge of public affairs and media relations activities for the 2010
Census.

Raul has extensive and wide ranging public relations experience and has
worked with public and private sector stakeholders nationally and the state
and local levels.  Before coming to the Census Bureau, Raul served in a
number of capacities at the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2001 to
2008.  He was director of communications and responsible for press,
marketing, audiovisual services, Web design and internal communications.
He was also associate administrator for field operations, deputy chief of
staff and acting district director for Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition to his federal service, Raul has also worked for the state of
California as an environmental engineer, assistant state treasurer and
communications specialist for the California State Senate.  Raul has been a
public relations consultant and commentator for print, radio and
television.  He also has private sector experience as an engineer and
supervisor working for the Campbell Soup Company.

Born and raised in the Republic of Panama, Raul earned his Bachelor of
Science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.  He lives in
Laurel, Md., with his wife, Anita, and 15-year-old daughter.  He is active
in the community and serves as a board member for the Anne Arundel
Partnership for Children, Youth and Families.