Steve Jost of the Census Bureau wrote the following response to my recent ranch resort post, but please note that he does not address the airfares or hotels or other transportation costs of Census Bureau officials from the Denver office that I inquired about:
I suppose one could fly speck every single event or Census related project for cost efficiencies, however this example was a poor one to choose to make some argument about waste. Indeed, it is a great example of how vital the 2010 Census partnership effort is, and how much it helped save the taxpayers.
First, the partnership effort deserves a great deal of credit for helping the country achieve a mail back response rate and cooperation during our door to door phase that contributed to reducing the total cost of the Decennial Census by $1.6 billion.
Second, this luncheon was at no cost to the taxpayers as the food was provided by partners. They were gathered together for a Census sponsored briefing on data products that will be coming out from the 2010 Census and the Bureau spent just $500 for room rental for that briefing. We took the opportunity at this briefing to also thank these partners for their generous contributions toward making the 2010 Census a success.
One example of how our 255,000 partners helped reduce the cost of the Census through their own civic engagement is how much money the government saved because local organizations donated space for testing and training centers. Nationally, they helped saved the taxpayers over $179 million in rents that did not have to be paid so we could train our temporary workforce of some 565,000 enumerators. This luncheon was a small gesture of thanks for their significant contribution.