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 ‘transparency’

Freedom of Information? Hardly. Access denied!

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Some months ago, after I received credible reports that Census Bureau employees were staying at Ritz Carleton hotels while on official biz, I wanted to know the extent of such spending sprees. I filed a Freedom of Information Act request and waited many, many months to hear back about its status. Today, I was fed up. I e-mailed Grant Book, the (presumably young) Commerce Department lawyer whose job it is to keep telling me “wait longer or sue us for the information.” Now, I’m not in the business of lawsuits, so I choose to wait for the info. Today, Mr. Book told me that my “final response” was sent out on June 22. I am 100% certain that this response never reached my inbox, as I searched for it repeatedly. Either way, here’s what the response looks like. The outcome: Negative. The trend toward increased government transparency continues…not! (And I’ve never seen so many court cases cited in my life for denying a FOIA request) Here it is, in all its glory:

The Commerce Department says “No” to my request for information.

The Census Bureau’s most up-to-date Freedom of Information Act request log…

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

MyTwoCensus requested a list of all FOIA requests received by the Census Bureau and here is a list of them as provided by the Census Bureau’s Freedom of Information Act office:

Most up-to-date FOIA log

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: This hire is ok, but a dangerous trend

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Yesterday, a press release from the Census Bureau detailed the hiring of Roderick Little, who will join the U.S. Census Bureau as the new associate director for statistical methodology and standards. The report states, “Little is the Richard D. Remington Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and chaired the Biostatistics Department from 1993 to 2001 and 2006 to 2009. He is also professor of statistics and research professor at University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.” After speaking with statisticians and those familiar with Dr. Little’s work, I am confident that he is an excellent hire for the Census Bureau. My qualm with this hire is that Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves, who studied and worked at the University of Michigan, is bringing in his friends to work for the Census Bureau rather than creating the open, transparent, and fair government that President Obama promised long ago. In the short-term, this hire is fine, but if the Census Bureau starts to look like the University of Michigan faculty club rather than a government agency, my eyebrows will be raised, and yours should be too.

First biracial president? Nope! First black president? Yes!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Though MyTwoCensus would have classified President Obama as biracial, he views himself as “black” and his kids as “black” too. The following confirmation to our inquiries was first reported by the New York Times:

It is official: Barack Obama is the nation’s first black president.

A White House spokesman confirmed that Mr. Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, checked African-American on the 2010 census questionnaire.

The president, who was born in Hawaii and raised there and in Indonesia, had more than a dozen options in responding to Question 9, about race. He chose “Black, African Am., or Negro.” (The anachronistic “Negro” was retained on the 2010 form because the Census Bureau believes that some older blacks still refer to themselves that way.)

Mr. Obama could have checked white, checked both black and white, or checked the last category on the form, “some other race,” which he would then have been asked to identify in writing.

There is no category specifically for mixed race or biracial.

Instructions for the census’s American Community Survey, which poses the question in the same way as the 2010 form, say that “people may choose to provide two or more races either by marking two or more race response boxes, by providing multiple write-in responses, or by some combination of marking boxes and writing in responses.”

In the 2000 census, when Americans first were allowed to check more than one box for race, about 6.8 million people reported being of two or more races.