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 ‘title 13’

Census Bureau “Media Specialists” cost taxpayers major $$$$ whenever they travel

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Here is a fascinating story from Louisiana that details an extremely cost inefficient policy…

BY STEPHEN LARGEN

The U.S. Census Bureau is using a travel policy for its media specialists that can cost taxpayers hundreds and even thousands of dollars for a single media interview.

Each time a media outlet like The News-Star requests to interview a census enumerator, a worker who goes door to door in local communities following up with residents who did not mail back their census questionnaires, Census Bureau policy dictates that a media specialist must be physically present at the site of the interview.

The bureau says the policy ensures enumerators do not unknowingly release information about their work that is supposed to remain confidential.

When The News-Star requested an interview with enumerators who are working in local neighborhoods for an update on how the process is unfolding, the bureau responded by flying a media specialist based in New Orleans to Monroe through Dallas.

The specialist stayed in a hotel the night before the roughly 30-minute interview, and used cab rides to travel while in Monroe.

Immediately following the interview with the enumerators, the media specialist headed back to Monroe Regional Airport and flew home

CLICK HERE for the rest of the story…

Regional Director: Change the label; then throw out information

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

The below e-mail is from the New York regional director Tony Farthing to his staff. Note his quote “Also, you need to watch the appearance of things, like what is being thrown away, even if what is in a box is different than the label….then change the label so that the appearance is not anything that would cause concern.”

From:  
To:  
cc:  
bcc:    

Date:  
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 05:17PM
Subject:  
Fw: Picture of boxes in NY with “Recycle” on them

Hi Folks:  as you can imagine, in this day and age we have all kinds of people in our offices who are looking to take photos of anything, and even record conversations outside of the offices between Census employees.   At all times, you need to be careful about what you say…you need to say the right things and say it in a way that it cannot be misinterpreted.   Also, you need to watch the appearance of things, like what is being thrown away, even if what is in a box is different than the label….then change the label so that the appearance is not anything that would cause concern.

Be advised that whenever anything is to be recycled from a Census office…nothing should be placed in boxes out of the street and left unattended.   At all times Census workers with ID should be guarding this until it is picked up by the approved company.

We need everyone’s cooperation with this…..and unfortunately, and fortunately, this is the most watched census ever…..from those that want to help us, and those who take enjoyment out of finding the smallest flaws and broadcasting them.

Please be diligent in your upholding and enforcement of Census procedures and Title 13 materials….including the appearance of what could be Title 13 materials even if they are not.   If it is a box that says Census on it, the antennas go up automatically.

Feel free to take a look at the link below which pretty much sums up the reason for my email!

Tony Farthing
Regional Director

Social networking is bad! (says the Census Bureau)

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
An anonymous Census employee sent SRM a tip about a few flyers the Bureau sent along with their paychecks (finally). One flyer covered driving safety (and please, everyone, do take care while driving). The other covered the ethics of social networking, and unfortunately it came to the conclusion that it’s bad. Sorry Morse, time to close up shop! (Note: That was a joke.)
Email excerpt:
It’s funny how it is implied that criticizing and talking to outsiders about the incompetence of the census machinery and brass is punishable with jail and fines, when in reality, it only applies to title 13 of USC in regard to respondent information and personally identifiable information.  The census own manuals have a section devoted to the rights and protections afforded to whistleblowers.  They also imply that because we are paid government employees, that it is unethical for us to publicly humiliate and or expose the ineptness of our employers.  Nice try.  There is no law preventing anyone from writing in their personal capacity, but it is implied that it is wrong, unethical, and just not cool.
And from the reminder itself (no emphasis added):
CONFIDENTIALITY AND ETHICS REMINDER
Social Networking and Census Employment
As personal blogging, tweeting, social networking sites have become more common and popular, it
is not unusual for Federal employees to have an opportunity to write about their work and their
employer in a public forum.  Please be aware you cannot disclose any nonpublic information that
is protected by statute.  You also cannot receive payments for writing about Census programs or
operations or about assignments you have been given as a Census employee.  In addition, you
must be careful to ensure that there is no appearance created that you are writing on behalf of the
Bureau of the Census, the Department of Commerce, or the United States Government when you
are writing in your personal capacity.
[...]
These restrictions on writing and publications are in addition to the life-time oath you took to
uphold the confidentiality of census information.  Any wrongful disclosure of confidential census
information subjects you to a fine up to $250,000, imprisonment up to five years, or both.