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.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, I am requesting all e-mails sent to and from Brian Monaghan, Barbara Lopresti, and Marilla Matos from February 4, 2010 through February 12, 2010.
As you probably already know, I run MyTwoCensus.com, the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 Census. My work has also appeared on MotherJones.com,governingpeople.com, and other publications. Since this is a non-commercial request and the release of these documents will serve the public interest (because analyzing these documents is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government), I am requesting that all fees be waived.
I am also requesting expedited processing of these documents under the clause on your web page that states I can do so if this information is “urgently needed to inform the public concerning some actual or alleged government activity.” With the 2010 Census just around the corner, and recent reports by the Associated Press and other organizations that language translations have been inadequate and sub-par, this request deserves your prompt attention.
If you deny all or any part of this request, please cite each specific exemption you think justifies your withholding of information. Notify me of appeal procedures available under the law. If you have any questions about handling this request, please feel free to contact me.
Stephen Robert Morse
PS – I’m not sure why, but you never responded to my FOIA request for hotel information from February 25, 2010. Any updates on that situation?
I’m a few years behind the rest of the world as I only recently started watching Mad Men, the hit TV series about the world of advertising. The show got me thinking about many things related to the 2010 Census ad campaign. Rather than advertising with “Portrait of America” themes, Christopher Guest nonsense, and other ads that seem to be unclear, unpointed, and uninteresting flops. Why not go straight to the numbers? The simple ad campaign I would have created for the Census Bureau would have gone as follows:
Cost to mail back your census form: 42 cents.
Cost to send a Census Bureau employee to your house if you fail to return your form: $57.
Amount of federal money at stake if you aren’t counted: $1,333.*
Total amount of available funding that you are community should get its fair share of: $400 BILLION.
*The Census Bureau uses the term $400 billion for the total amount of money at stake. $400 billion divided by 300 milli0n people (an approximation of America’s population) is $1,333 per person. Some estimates determine that it is about $3,000 per person missed. Shelley Lowe of the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office said of the per person figure, “We don’t calculate that, but other organizations have attempted to.”
I need not write any more words about the Super Bowl ad. It now has 333,000+ views on YouTube, but at the same time it has been panned time and time again, and perhaps caused 10% of the population to resent the Census Bureau, even if it caused 2% of the population to fill out their 2010 Census forms.
As you will see below, the genius ad agency DraftFCB (who also produced failed and unmemorable Taco Bell and Dockers commercials during the Super Bowl) didn’t even permit the embed codes for the “viral videos” to be shared until this error was pointed out by internet users. One word for these folks: Idiots.
Updated 3:53 p.m. ET
Media critics seem to agree: The U.S. Census Bureau should keep to counting people and stay out of the advertising business.
The agency spent $2.5 million on a 30-second ad that aired during the third quarter of Sunday night’s Super Bowl, a price tag also earned them two spots during the pregame show and two on-air mentions by CBS Sports anchor James Brown.
The ad is one of a five-part series that the agency hopes will spread virally out from a Facebook fan page and YouTube. (The agency prohibits bloggers and third party sites from copying and pasting embed code of the ads, blaming contractual restrictions — a decision that likely means the agency’s viral efforts will fail. UPDATE: The agency’s YouTube channel now provides the embed code. Was somebody listening?!)
Entertainment Weekly named the spot one of Sunday night’s five worst, stating, “How weird to hire all those funny character actors, then accidentally air an unfinished version of a commercial that left us all wondering what the frak we just watched!”
Advertisers are often willing to fork over millions of dollars for a Super Bowl spot in hopes of free day-after buzz. So perhaps most insulting of all, some ad critics completely ignored the Census spot. Slate’s Seth Stevenson didn’t mention it in his review of an “uninspiring slate” of commercial offerings, and The Post’s television critic Tom Shalesalso ignored the ad (Shales concluded that the David Letterman-Oprah Winfrey-Jay Leno “Late Show” promo was the night’s best — and The Eye agrees).
The conservative editorial board at the New Hampshire Union-Leaderseized on the Census ad’s price tag, calling it a “Super blunder” and lamenting that the spot cost only 1.9 percent of the Census Bureau’s total advertising budget.
The editors echoed concernsraised last week by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Both lawmakers have sought justifications for the big purchase.
“There has been a great deal of buzz about the Census ads this week which is raising awareness at just the right time,” said Census Bureau spokesman Steven Jost.
“No single ad carries the whole burden of this massive outreach and education effort,” he said. “Our goal now is to raise awareness that the Census is coming in March. Then we will shift to more direct messaging that your Census form will be arriving by mail and inspiring folks to ‘mail it back.’”
Officials have also justified the costs by noting that any publicity about the 2010 Census — good or bad — should help save taxpayer money in the long run. A higher census response rate cuts the need for temporary workers to conduct expensive follow up interviews, the agency said.
“If 1% of folks watching #SB44 [Super Bowl 44] change mind and mail back #2010Census form, taxpayers save $25 million in follow up costs,” the bureau Tweeted on Sunday night.
Position: Assistant Director for American Community Survey and Decennial Census, U.S. Census Bureau Age: 60 Residence: Fairfax County, Va. Education: Ph.D. in economics, Yale University; B.S. in mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Awards:Department of Commerce Bronze and Silver Medals; two Vice President¿s Reinventing Government (Hammer) Awards; Fellow of the American Statistical Association Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics; 2002 Service to America Citizen Services Medal Hobbies: Tennis, photography, bridge
The 2010 decennial census is just getting underway, but Daniel Weinberg is already thinking about 2020 and how the Internet might be used to collect the nation’s population data.
Weinberg, the assistant director for the Decennial Census and American Community Survey, spends his time in two primary areas: helping make sure everything is in order for the 2010 census and coming up with ways to improve the massive undertaking 10 years from now.
The census is a count of everyone living in the United States, collecting basic information on age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, household relationships and whether a home is owned or rented. By law, both citizens and noncitizens must be counted every 10 years. Census data are used to reapportion congressional seats to states and directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal funding is distributed to state, local and tribal governments.
“Each census is a 10-year cycle of planning and testing and research,” Weinberg said. “We set a very high bar to automate as much as the process as possible for 2010, and we didn’t succeed as much as we would have liked. We need to carry that over to 2020.”
Weinberg is in charge of the management, geography and statistical divisions of the Census Bureau, helping chart long and short term strategy, troubleshoot, and keeping the huge,complex process moving. He keeps tab of what is going on, seeks to resolve problems as they arise and provides support where needed.