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 ‘printers’

Notes From The Field: A Story Of Waste At The Census Bureau

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

UPDATE: Click on these documents (HERE and HERE) to view examples of just how much waste there is. We are also hoping that Census Bureau employees can send us photos and other documentation of entire warehouses full of materials being destroyed.

The following story was written exclusively for MyTwoCensus.com by an anonymous upper-level local Census Bureau official in California. Maybe Tony Soprano should have won himself a Census Bureau contract, because it seems like waste management is an extremely lucrative business. Enjoy this:

There have been many articles about bad technology and over-hiring of staff at the Census Bureau which has wasted millions of our taxpayer’s dollars. The bright side is that these jobs are providing a stimulus to our economy. However so far no one has spoken about the paper /printing waste at the Census Bureau which is the most visible part especially as a local census office employee.  From my initial estimates this waste could top at least in the millions and maybe a billion dollars.

There are many forms of waste including: single sided printers, employee manuals on high quality paper, thousands of administrative forms and full color recruiting brochures which are printed and never used. Let us also not forget the promotional posters which partnership is scrambling to get rid of because after the questionnaires go out in two weeks they play a little role except encouraging people to mail it back. First, they are the high speed printers which default to print singled sided because we were told they were set that way for map printing. However if we try to default the printers to double sided for our other print jobs we are violating the contractor’s Harris Corporation warranty agreement. Add to that managers and clerks who each feel the need to print their own copy, and make copies of copies (single sided of course) and the occasional office idiot who does not check his printer settings before printing the two thousand page report single sided and we go through entire reams of paper in a day.

Then there are the thousands of manuals and administrative forms on high quality paper we receive in our shipments. It would be a different story if the thousands of manuals were printed on 100% recycled newsprint, like the test prep books in the bookstore but they are not. Maybe I’d feel less guilty if the administrative forms we receive were being used, but they are not used. After each operation our manager receives a headquarters memo (attached) that authorizes them to throw out hundreds of boxes of administrative forms and manuals that were never used. And it doesn’t end there. The national processing center print millions upon millions of forms only to find out there is either an error or an update is needed making the previous editions garbage. We will receive a memo to destroy the old ones. Only to get another pallet of them and sometimes it’s the same version. Add to that the overestimated workloads we still have hundred of boxes of group quarters validation questionnaires and full color recruiting brochures left (and recruiting ends this month)

After address canvassing which was a computer based operation we threw away hundreds of manuals but very little administrative forms. However after group quarters validation, the first paper based operation and the first wave of recruiting ended we threw away hundreds of blank administrative forms and outdated recruiting brochures. Since our local census office was in a building that didn’t recycle we put them in the shredding bin. But the bin filled up very quickly and we were told to just bag them in black garbage bags and dispose of them since they contain no sensitive information. It took us weeks of throwing out manuals, forms everyday before we were able to rid ourselves of it.

One of the supervisors summarized it well when she said: “They treat all the employees like crap…tell everyone they are not willing to pay a cent of overtime and that they have to do their job in under 40 hours otherwise their work will be given to someone else or they will be terminated.” But then they spend your hard earned taxpayer’s dollars to print full color glossy recruiting brochures by the thousands, truck them across the country, have them sit idle in a storeroom only to throw them out a few months later.

My TwoCensus should submit a FOIA request to expose this waste because this is frankly appalling. Among the questions the watchdog group should ask is:

What is the total printing cost and amount of paper for the 2010 census broken down by: administrative forms, partnership posters, employee training manuals, census forms?

How much waste has Shred-It, the national contractor for destroying sensitive information, received from the offices and how much revenue is being generated?

Due to the overestimated workloads and overrecruiting exactly how much extra money went to printing these unused manuals, forms and promotional materials?

How much money is Harris Corporation making by contracting high speed printers and computer equipment which are running up paper, toner and employee costs?

How much money could of been saved if they printed the thousands of manuals on 100% recycled newsprint instead of high quality paper, double-sided all the printers and limited printing jobs to prevent accidental job spooling of thousand page reports?

Next week when we receive our shipment for NRFU (which is like 30 pallettes), they should take back the 10 pallettes of material we still have in our office from last October we are not using to Indiana so they can get a sense of how much waste this is. I want MyTwoCensus.com to try to get Congress and the Inspector General’s office to expose this fruitless waste of money by visiting these offices, conducting an audit or trucking this waste to a centralized location so everyone to see how much waste was produced instead of black bagging it and trying to cover it up. In the age of being green, waste reduction and take back programs not only is the census stuck in primitive paper operation but it is producing administrative forms, manuals, color brochures and posters which are just being thrown away.

It’s Too Late To Stop The Presses…

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

The following is a press release from the U.S. Census Bureau:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, JULY 23, 2009

Jack Martin/Shelly Lowe                               CB09-CN.17
Public Information Office
301-763-3691                                                2010 Census Web
site
e-mail: <pio.2010@census.gov>                         2010 Census sample
form

Printing of 2010 Census Questionnaires Under Way
New 10-Question Survey Among Shortest Since First Census in 1790

The U.S. Census Bureau has begun printing 2010 Census questionnaires as
the agency continues preparations for next year’s count of the U.S.
population. The new questionnaire, which every residential address will
receive, is designed to be one of the shortest since the first census in
1790, asking just 10 questions and taking about 10 minutes to complete.

“Our goal is to count everyone living in the United States once, only
once, and in the right place,” said Census Bureau Director Robert M.
Groves. “Making that happen begins with the 2010 Census questionnaire, a
powerful tool that provides critical data that will guide representation in
Congress and the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds to
state, local and tribal governments every year.”

Beginning in mid-March 2010, more than 120 million questionnaires will
be delivered to U.S. residential addresses. To meet the goal, the Census
Bureau will print more than 1.5 million documents every day.

For the first time, more than 13 million questionnaires will be
bilingual (English – Spanish). The move is based on tests showing that
targeting the bilingual questionnaires toward areas with high
concentrations of Spanish-only speakers will improve response rates.
Questionnaires are also available on request in Spanish, Chinese
(simplified), Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. Language guides, which
provide instructions on how to complete the questionnaire, are available in
nearly 60 languages.

“The Census Bureau has gone to great lengths to make the printing
process as efficient and eco-friendly as possible,” Groves said. “The
printing of 2010 Census questionnaires uses
30 percent less ink than 10 years ago and will be printed on 30 percent
recycled paper.”

Another critical factor in the success of the census is the quality of
the address list used for delivering the questionnaires next March. This
spring, Census Bureau workers walked every street in the nation to match
actual residential addresses on the ground with those provided in lists
from the U.S. Postal Service and local governments.

The 140,000 workers who verified addresses operated out of 151 local
census offices in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.  In the fall, an additional 344
local census offices will open.

The Census Bureau will hire approximately 1.4 million people to conduct
the 2010 Census, including following up with households that do not return
their questionnaire.

“The 2010 Census is easy, important and safe,” Groves said. “The Census
Bureau is ready to undertake this massive domestic operation and looks
forward to everyone’s participation in the national count.”