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 ‘RCC’

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?

Daily Sound Off: Are Census Bureau officials getting bonuses based on performance?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

This came in through our submission form:

I would sure like to see a story on who in the census office are getting bonuses and for what.

Out of the Matteson Office 2526 we have been given deadline dates by the LCOM John Mathis such as one a week ago, then one today, etc.  In a meeting with the LCOM, someone from the RCC Chicago office, brought up these dates John seemed to change his mind on the dates.  Someone else then asked if anyone is getting bonuses for completing early.  The RCC guy said “Who said we are getting bonuses?”

I think any bonuses if they exist for finishing early are only going to cause more bad census data as we are rushed to meet dates that are falsely imposed.  The website says this part of the operation should end in early July.

So can you find out what bonuses are offered to census management and for what?  Then we can start writing our congress people to abolish them.  The only bonus I think should be for getting a complete and accurate count of all people and where they lived on April 1st.

Census Bureau Official: The Worst Local Census Office In the Nation

Monday, May 10th, 2010

The following piece comes from an anonymous Census Bureau official in New York whose identity has been verified but will remain protected by MyTwoCensus.com. This work below does not necessarily represent the views of Stephen Robert Morse or MyTwoCensus.com:

From the outside our LCO looks great. It sits in a high end commercial office building with beautiful views of Park Avenue and the Grand Central Terminal. But on the inside the office is the prime example of the appalling waste, lack of accountability, sabotage and finger pointing that has become widespread here at the 2010 Census.

Our LCO contains the upscale doorman buildings of the East Side, the multi-million dollar condos in Union Square and the Lower East Side, Fifth Avenue retail stores such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bergdorf Goodman and famous restaurants such as Tavern on the Green and Smith & Wollensky. The average rent for a one bedroom apartment is upwards of three thousand dollars a month. For months, numerous employees warned everyone the demography of the residents and the high real estate prices was going to be a problem finding applicants for $18.75 an hour and free training space. The recruiting and partnership assistants had trouble finding partners that would donate space that we could use five days a week for eight hours a day. The LCOM made clerks cold call high end banquet halls, and conference rooms in private office buildings but most of them refused because in such a recession these businesses could be generating revenue instead of donating their space. Some spaces though were nice enough to say that if we would be willing to offset some of their custodial, security costs or even the cost for toilet paper they would offer us the space. But the Census Bureau was adamant about not paying a single cent for space.

The other problem was recruiting enough applicants. The office clerk rate of $14.25 and field employee rate of $18.75 an hour was chump change for what is considered one of the highest real estate prices in the country. Most of the people who take a job for these pay rates are students, public housing or subsidized housing residents or retirees. For this very reason we were ranked last in the nation when it came to recruiting enough applicants to do the census.

To no one’s surprise since recruiting numbers were not being met the career census employees at regional census center (RCC) and headquarters pointed fingers, blamed the local census office managers and bring in outsiders. They brought in regional technicians and other recruiting assistants from Queens to show us how to plaster and flier neighborhoods with posters. Nevertheless they didn’t even make a dent in the recruiting numbers. Looking for someone to blame the RCC fired the recruiting manager and asked another one to take over. When the second one refused to work with the LCOM, the solution was fire her too. Then they offered it to a Westchester manager who declined also. (smart move) And the regional technician from Queens spent a week there before he was fed up. Are you starting to notice a trend? You know there is a problem when people would rather be fired than work with the LCOM.

The employees refused to work with the LCOM because she was condescending, oftentimes publicly humiliating and sabotaging other managers from getting their job done. Most of all, the LCOM had it out for the AMQA. She [LCOM] diverted a strong OOS from quality assurance to recruiting and told recruiting assistants to refrain from finding training sites and questionnaire assistance centers (QACs). When the area manager sent partnership assistants to help look for additional QAC sites the LCOM diverted them also. Then they sent a regional technician to help her. He mapped the geographic location of all the QAC sites and figured out the hours they would be most effective. Then he coordinated some recruiting assistants to help telling them exactly where he needed QACs and what hours he needed them. She threw away the work and tried to get the regional technician fired.

At the climax, when the LCOM resigned her going away party featured a clerk who impersonated her in a wig and stormed the lobby like a drama scene from a reality television show. After the LCOM left, an RCC employee became the acting LCOM. Like other RCC employees he offered little constructive help but sitting at his computer falling asleep or basically hovering, standing over, watching as temporary hourly employees slave away at processing work on an antiquated system that does not work.

When it came time to hire enumerators for non response follow-up our office still didn’t have enough training spaces but told to select applicants anyways. Despite being the worst LCO in the country the office managed to select almost 2,000 applicants, hiring a negligible number of non-citizens and those who scored below 70 from an applicant pool of about 5,000. (the original applicant testing goal was over 12,000 applicants) Instead of finally compromising and paying for much needed space RCC asked the LCO managers to create a schedule to take advantage of every single seat in a classroom, moving and splitting crews of enumerators from one training site to another each day. A great idea from the outlook; but when you try to implement this it can be a logistical nightmare. We promised jobs to thousands of applicants but couldn’t fit them into training space so all this week we fielded phone calls from thousands of irate applicants who were desperate for work or enumerators who don’t even know where and when their next day of training is. While the office is fielding phone calls headquarters is making sure we key enough hires in the system. The office resorted to training their employees in the hallway of a high end commercial Park Avenue South office. The managers have to work from morning to midnight, sometimes through the night and everyday there are employees who basically break down and burst into tears in the office. The Census Bureau could of saved themselves money simply by pay their partners a stipend to offset custodial or security fees or even the toilet paper than pay the wages and overtime for the entire office which is probably in the tens of thousands.

Another example of government waste at its finest is how they bring in huge cubic dump containers to throw out entire storerooms of materials for the group quarters enumeration, recruiting brochures, and questionnaires. I ask myself if it was worth firing our AMQA over lack of Questionnaire Assistance Center sites when entire cubic containers of be counted census forms were just thrown out? In a few weeks during the non-response follow up operation we have to enumerate all the housing units in entire high rise apartment buildings in Manhattan because no one received census forms. This is simply because headquarters and RCC rushed and told people to work faster last year. If New York City is missing entire high rise apartment buildings imagine how many single family homes are missing across America. The joke of the office is if things don’t work headquarters will fly in people who will come in take over and magically “finish the job”. This is simply why places like New York City get undercounted.

So when the newspaper reporters are standing outside our office demanding interviews about why the office won’t respond to applicants request about job training. Why don’t they ask the RCC and headquarters? From the first look you can blame the temporary local census office but the real blame falls onto the RCC and headquarters who evaluate purely on numbers with little regard to the demography and real estate costs of one of the most expensive neighborhoods in America. The New York East 2230 office is the prime example of career level census managers who have tunnel vision. These people are former statisticians, mathematicians and geographers who are great at quantitative analysis but have little management experience and strategy.

If this LCO works just like any other office in terms of the waste it shows what must be happening in 494 offices across the nation every day. The Census Bureau MO “when things don’t work throw more money, resources and people at it.” This is why the census costs 15 billion dollars. The Census needs someone with real management experience and who is a real visionary. The employees at regional census center and headquarters should be ashamed of themselves. And to think the inspector general’s office was here just weeks ago makes it even more appalling. You can be sure I’ll be writing the congressional subcommittee about this.

Problems at California Census offices result in major complaints from female Census Bureau managers

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

In recent days, I have received many complaints from Census Bureau employees about the poor quality of their managers. I encourage people with problems to write up their stories and I will publish them here. The following document does not represent the opinions of Stephen Robert Morse or MyTwoCensus.com, but rather the female manager from California who sent me this piece. Inside you will see her opinions about fraud and abuse by Census Bureau management as well as discriminatory treatment of staff and information about the process of filing complaints:

Three female managers in the Santa Maria, CA, Local Census Office, Los Angeles Region filed EEO complaints against our Area Manager, Araceli Barcelo and Assistant Regional Census Center Manager, Jeff Enos. Enos had been our Area Manager and was promoted to ARCM. Barcelo had been a Regional Tech for Enos and was promoted to Area Manager. Those in our office who filed complaints include the Assistant Manager Administration, the Assistant Manager Technology and me, the Local Census Office Manager.  We filed complaints because Araceli Barcelo and Jeff Enos rehired a man (I won’t name him as he is also part of our complaint and not a manager) who had abused and sexually harassed women in our office.  Both Area Manager Barcelo and ARCM Enos knew about this man’s behavior and never did anything to stop it. The behavior was well documented and ARCM Enos had the documentation.  There was a very volatile incident in our office where this man yelled, made an inappropriate comment and a menacing gesture directed at our AMT.  This happened while we were on a teleconference with Jeff Enos.  This man also “cussed out” Jeff Enos and Enos did nothing.  Later Enos called me and told me to handle the situation with this man because “he did not like to do those types of things”.  The next day, the man resigned while I was writing him up.  Jeff Enos should have disciplined this man.  The Local Census Office Manager does not hire, fire or discipline managers.  That is the responsibility of the Area Manager.

After the three of us, female managers, learned this man had been rehired during a teleconference with Araceli Barcelo, we filed EEO complaints. We filed complaints because management had not dealt with this man’s illegal and abusive behavior, had rehired him and, then, given him a promotion as a Regional Tech in the area Araceli Barcelo supervises.   The women in our office were told this man was to not come to our office.  However, as a Regional Tech, he now had access to our work and all our electronic files.  He could also show up at our door and gain entrance.  We filed because we feared he would harm us.  The statement from management that this man would not come to our office shows they knew he had done something wrong in our office.

This man was originally hired as a Group Quarters Supervisor in one of the Central Valley Offices about three hours from Santa Maria.  To do this, Barcelo needed to have used a fake address, a new geo coding, as office staff can only be hired from the local area.  This man lives in Santa Maria. Staff from our office sees him at the local gym quite regularly.  Barcelo had fired the LCOM and the Assistant Manager of Administration from one of the Central Valley offices for allowing the Administrative Assistant to use a fake address, her sister’s address so she could move with the LCOM to one of the new offices.  Why hasn’t Barcelo been fired for doing the same thing?

Araceli Barcelo with the direction of Jeff Enos has fired numerous managers in her area.  She uses her Regional Techs as spies.   Barcelo uses these spies to get information so Barcelo can build documentation on the managers.  While some of these managers may have been fired for performance issue, the majority have not.  Some of the managers have quit because they couldn’t deal with Barcelo’s harassing behavior, her firing of their staff and taking over the office to put pressure on the LCOM to quit or to find something to use against them.  After one LCOM quit, he contacted his Congressional Rep to complain about all the firings and a delegation from the Congressional Office went to L.A. to meet with James Christy, Regional Director.  However, the firings continue. Some of these managers had been with the 2010 Census since the offices opened in 2008.  The cost of hiring, training, firing, hiring a replacement and retraining is staggering and a huge waste of taxpayer money. But, then again, as many reports have stated, the Census Bureau has wasted enormous amounts of money. Nothing is done about Barcelo and her behavior as they don’t want to disrupt the operations.

If you complain about Barcelo or Enos or anything Barcelo does, you are subjected to retaliation.  All of us who have filed against her have received the brunt of her retaliatory behavior.  Some of us have been fired. I have been harassed by her every day since I complained about her. She calls us and makes snide, abusive and insulting remarks. She treats us like we, in the field offices are the enemies instead of helping us with the operations. She has made her Regional Techs scour everything in our office to build documentation on us. They looked at all our time sheets to find errors and, I was written up for it.  She had one of her Regional Techs, the hatchet man, go through every selection certificate we have handled since the office opened to find mistakes. He is the hatchet man because Barcelo uses him to find things so she can fire. Our Administration Department, by this time, had hired over 2,000 employees and was handling about 300 payroll documents a day.  Given the volume and speed of these transactions, since they are all on strict timelines, there will be mistakes.  Management claimed all offices were being audited.  This was a lie.  Barcelo conducted sham superficial audits of her other offices.  She used another RT to audit the work he had done when he was the Assistant Manager of Administration.  None of the offices in her area or offices reporting to other Area Managers received the depth of review or covered the timeframe audited in our office.  Some of the other offices were not audited. This was pure retaliation on the part of Barcelo and Enos.  Regional Director, James Christy and Deputy Director know about all of this as we have sent our complaints to them.  They turn a “deaf ear” as they don’t want to “disrupt the operations”.  Barcelo continues her abusive retaliatory behavior.

We filed our informal EEO complaints and the EEO Counselor contacted us within a week.  She tried to resolve the complaints but, of course, management refused to settle claiming they had done nothing wrong.  What we sought was to have management deal with this man who they rehired as they should have done originally, to have Barcelo and Enos disciplined for not dealing with this man’s behavior and for rehiring him with full knowledge of his behavior and to have our office moved from the chain of command of Barcelo and Enos as we knew they would retaliate.  Retaliate, they did.

We filed our formal complaints with the Decennial Office of Civil Rights, Kathryn H. Anderson, Deputy Director for Decennial Operations Office of Civil Rights, Washington, DC.  This was several weeks ago. We received notice from DD Anderson that our complaints had been received but, no decision as to whether our complaints had been accepted for processing or whether an investigator would contact us.

Last week, an LCOM from one of the Central Valley Offices called me. This LCOM and another manager from her office had also filed complaints but, were told by an EEO Counselor that the Decennial Office of Civil Rights is delaying processing the formal complaints so the Census Bureau can finish the operations.  None of our complaints have been processed.  This LCOM told me complainants are now filing with the Office of the Inspector General so that someone will do something to stop Barcelo’s behavior.

There is a statutory timeline for agencies to process complaints, 180 days.  When a federal agency/department/bureau stalls processing formal complaints, they can say they won’t be able to investigate the complaint within the 180 day and pass the complaint on to the EEOC.  The Office of Civil Rights, then, never investigates the complaints.  This discourages complainants, they give up or they don’t want to deal with another process, EEOC. This creates what is called a “chilling effect” on complainants.  The “chilling effect” has been used in the past by employers as a way to avoid having to deal with complaints and avoid correcting their illegal practices.  By stalling, the census operations will finish, the responsible management officials will be gone and documents will be destroyed.  And we know the Census Bureau is known for shredding and destroying documents and materials.  Also, by stalling processing and investigation of complaints, the Office of Civil Rights is giving benefit to management.  The OCR is to be an impartial finder of fact.  Giving management a benefit and not giving complainants their statutory rights makes the office biased toward management.  The only “right” the temporary decennial census employees have is civil rights.  Completing the Census does not trump civil rights laws.

By not conducting timely investigations of EEO complaints, the Census Bureau is giving license to managers to continue to engage in discriminatory/harassing and abusive behavior.  The managers see no consequences for their behavior and see EEO as a joke.  Araceli Barcelo has been quoted as saying: “I have so many EEO complaints filed against me but, I still sleep at night.”

Anonymous Census Bureau Official: Major Nation-wide IT FAILURE at the Census Bueau

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The following piece comes to us from a Census Bureau official from the Mid-West region who has requested anonymity but has had her identity verified by MyTwoCensus.com. Her discussion of a major week-long IT systems failure has effected every Census Bureau office across the country and demonstrates how disgraceful operations are being handled (and subsequently covered up, as MyTwoCensus has requested information about this failure numerous times yet has not received any responses from the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office):

I have a problem in my local census office. The problem is 493 of those offices across the nation are having the same exact problem. You see, in November and December 2009 when I first started at the Census Bureau, one of my first assignments was assisting in a system load test known as the Decennial Application Load Test (or DALT for short). DALT simulated the conditions of every census office employee logging on at the same time across the nation and what would happen. This was my first taste of our federal tax dollars hard at work. As is typical of any large scale government program the whole system went kaput; users couldn’t log-on and applications crashed.

The Bureau’s contingency plan was to limit users and ask offices to spread out their staffing. We started to run an evening shift which meant paying night differential (an additional 10% pay) to our night employees.  One application of concern was PBOCS the Paper Based Operational Control System that was unveiled in January 2010 to complete the rest of their field operations. The system was developed after the Census decided to nix the Harris Corporation as their contractor. The PBOCS system was used to check out assignments into the field, make assignments to enumerators, check work into the office after completion and check out for shipping. In February 2009 after the two big snowstorms that hit Washington DC the same thing happened. The Bureau’s contingency plan for PBOCS was to limit users to four per local census office and remove functionality they didn’t deem was mandatory.

In the last few weeks we are experiencing many more problems as we near non-response followup the most massive operation of the decennial census. Some of PBOCS problems include but are not limited to:
* individual census reports (ICRS) from group quarters enumeration that PBOCS claims are missing for shipment.
* daily progress reports that are outdated or showing the wrong numbers
* numerous system crashes where work is lost or has to be rescanned
* wrong or missing work being selected for reinterview

At the beginning when these problems started, the RCC pointed fingers at the local census offices accusing them of not using the system or processing the work properly. However when several offices reported the same issues the blame then shifted to the software.

To further complicate things is the divide that also occurs between the local census office employees and the the regional census center and headquarters staff. The headquarters and regional census center staff are mostly career employees. The local census office employees are temporary Schedule A hourly employees. Although both are referencing the same procedures in the same manuals the local census office employees are the ones who are doing the grunt work (the enlisted men per say). The RCC and headquarters staff (the commissioned officers) manage and oversee but do not realize the difficulties and nuances because they are not out there getting their hands dirty.

The LCO employees are finding that the PBOCS system actually will not update the report numbers or sometimes show the wrong numbers. The RCC and headquarters are lead to believe if the work doesn’t show in the system as completed then it is not completed. However when the reports don’t show the quotas are being met the career census employees usually get on the phone to threaten the temporary employees and even sometimes terminating their employment.

This weekend is the third weekend PBOCS has gone offline. On Wednesday April 14 it was announced PBOCS was to go down at 8pm (actually went down about 5pm) and will not be back up until Monday morning April 19th. We are somewhat relieved to hear through the grapevine that the RCC and headquarters will be more lenient and readjust their production goals for the entire nation. However I think that much of the intimidation and harassment will occur again so that the career census employees can cover their asses and recover any of the money they were probably paying in overtime for programmers to fix this crap piece of software. This is all the while they tell the temporary employees at the LCO that overtime will be strictly prohibited.

The career employees at RCC and headquarters hold the temporary LCO employees accountable for mistakes they [RCC and headquarters] made in the ten years they had to prepare since the last decennial. But who is held accountable at the highest levels when a multi-billion dollar piece of software doesn’t work and they constantly have to fix it? I hope the Inspector General and my congressmen are reading this because PBOCS is government waste at its finest. How ironic it is happening in the nearing days of the largest operation of the decennial census.