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 ‘Washington Post’

An update on 2010 Census operations…

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Carol Morello of The Washington Post, writes the following in her article about Maryland residents who weren’t counted (yet):

Since May 1, census takers have knocked on the doors of more than 47 million homes, virtually all the addresses for which nobody returned a form. They found 14.3 million vacant residences, up from 9.9 million in the 2000 Census — a reflection of the heavy toll the recession and foreclosures have taken on the nation.

As the census winds down, more than three-quarters of the 635,000 temporary workers hired for it have been dismissed. The remaining 125,000 will be checking the work that has been done.

Census Bureau re-interviewing thousands of people in Brooklyn

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Well, folks, you heard it here first. (Don’t forget that!) Now, let’s hope that the New York news organizations will pick up on the following info. As usual the Census Bureau releases critical information on a Friday afternoon in the summer time hoping that the media mavens in New York are already on their way to the Hamptons and will forget about this by Monday. How much will this operation cost taxpayers? Will the fired officials be charged with crimes? Here’s a Census Bureau Press Release:

Brooklyn Households May Get Additional Visit From Census Bureau

Quality checks reveal work must be redone to ensure complete accurate count

WASHINGTON, June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Census Bureau today announced that checks on the quality of some of the work in the Brooklyn North East local census office (LCO) have led to a replacement of the management of that office, and to the judgment that at least 10,000 household interviews will have to be redone to ensure a complete and accurate count.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090226/CENSUSLOGO)

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090226/CENSUSLOGO)

“I want to stress that our highest priority is to get a complete and accurate count in 2010 for Brooklyn, and while I regret some of the work must be redone, I’m sure the people of Brooklyn share in the goal of getting this right,” said Regional Director Tony Farthing.

Census officials from the New York Regional Office and the Suitland, Maryland headquarters visited the LCO this week following up on concerns raised by some employees in the LCO that the management there was not following established procedures. Senior managers confirmed that a variety of training and processing standards had recently been neglected in the LCO.  The New York Regional Office has replaced the LCO management with two experienced managers who are very familiar with the communities in the affected area. The systematic review of processing steps continues, and may lead to more household re-interviews. A physical inspection of a sample of census questionnaires pointed to a recent breakdown and failure to follow quality standards that must be met by every local census office.

Regional Director Tony Farthing said that the new LCO team will be in the field beginning this weekend to ensure all enumerator interviews are conducted properly and that any suspect interviews will be redone with new interviews of the households. He said he felt confident all the work can be completed before the end of door to door enumeration, but that work would continue until the Bureau is satisfied of the quality.

Editor’s note: News releases, reports and data tables are available on the Census Bureau’s home page. Go to http://www.census.gov and click on “Releases.”

Washington Post: Tales of abuse against census workers

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Today, The Washington Post published a very detailed story about incidents involving census workers. Click HERE for the full article. Some highlights:

“So far, the Census Bureau has tallied 379 incidents involving assaults or threats on the nation’s 635,000 census workers, more than double the 181 recorded during the 2000 census. Weapons were used or threatened in a third of the cases.”

“Steven Jost, a spokesman for the Census Bureau, said it is unlikely that the policy prohibiting census workers from carrying weapons will be rescinded.”

“The number of verified incidents might go down after analysis.”

Crew leader shot and killed in #Baltimore

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

This is a tragedy. H/t to Carol Morello of The Washington Post for the following:

A Baltimore man who was working for the Census Bureau has died after being shot while dropping off a co-worker — the first killing of a Census worker on the job this year.

Spencer Williams, 22, died Friday after being shot June 7, according to Baltimore police. He was found inside his car, resting in the median near an intersection, and had multiple gunshot wounds, police said.

Williams was a crew leader responsible for a group of census takers doing follow-up visits to the homes of people who did not mail in their questionnaire by April. Census Bureau spokesman Steven J. Jost said Williams was returning home after driving a co-worker home at the end of the day and was considered to still be on the job. Police and Census officials said the shooting is not believed to be related to the agency’s work.

Since follow-up house calls began in late April, there have been 252 incidents in which Census workers have been harmed or threatened, including 11 times when shots were fired at them and 86 times when they were threatened with such weapons as guns, axes and crossbows.

Let’s hope the person who did this is caught and brought to justice.

Transcript and commentary from Census Bureau Director’s latest press conference

Friday, June 4th, 2010

The transcript is now available on the Census Bureau’s web site. Highlights include the following:

1. On page 12 Direct Robert M. Groves sidesteps a question asked by Carol Morello of The Washington Post inquiring about why Dwight Dean was given the boot.

2. On page 17 he sidesteps a question that claims that there are only two bilingual numerators in the whole New Orleans region.

3. On page 18 he sidesteps giving details about the PBOCS (paper-based operations control system) failures.

Detroit Regional Director is replaced mysteriously and at the last minute…WHY?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

UPDATE: I called Census Bureau Asst. Director for Communications Burton Reist to follow up about this because I was tipped off that Dwight Dean was investigated for not following procedures and falling behind in NRFU operations. He said, “Mr. Dean is not currently involved in management. He is absolutely still employed…Wayne Hatcher from Charlotte has taken over the office and field operations in Detroit are running smoothly.”  Upon me asking him a load of other questions, he simply replied no comment. Well, we all know that running smoothly line is a load of horse sh*t…now to find out the truth about the rest of it…

In the past few days I received some tips that Dwight Dean of the Detroit office was given the boot, both suddenly and mysteriously. Today, my suspicions were confirmed when the Census Bureau sent out this press release:

Census Bureau Statement on the Detroit Regional Office

Detroit Regional Director Dwight Dean is not currently involved in the
management of Regional operations.  This is a personnel matter, and Mr.
Dean remains in the employment of the Census Bureau.  In compliance with
the Privacy Act, the Census Bureau has no further comment.

In the interim, Wayne Hatcher, from the Charlotte Regional Office, is
serving as Acting Regional Director in Detroit.  Elaine Wagner, Deputy
Regional Director, and Jonathan Spendlove, Assistant Regional Director,
continue to be involved with management of the office. Both are seasoned
managers, and Field operations in Detroit are functioning smoothly.  As we
do with all twelve Regional Census Centers, we will continue to work with
the Detroit Region to provide any support they need to ensure a successful
2010 Census and fulfill other regional responsibilities.

The Washington Post’s Carol Morello added this commentary:

The longtime regional Census Bureau director in Detroit has been replaced, but census officials are declining to discuss the reasons behind the unusual move, which comes in the middle of census season.

Dwight P. Dean, a census employee since 1969 and regional director for the past 13 years, no longer has managerial responsibilities as of late last week, said Burton Reist, a census spokesman. Dean remains on the payroll, Reist said. When asked what work Dean was doing, Reist said, “I’m not sure.” Asked if Dean was on leave, Reist declined to comment further, saying it was a personnel matter.

According to a census biography, Dean was awarded the Department of Commerce’s bronze and silver medals in 1986 and 1991.

Attempts to reach Dean were unsuccessful.

Ed O’Keefe on James O’Keefe (no relation)

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post has added some more info tot he James O’Keefe narrative from earlier today:

“Workers are instructed to report hours they work, which would include their time traveling to and from training,” said spokesman Stephen Buckner. “This is no different than the training session that Mr. O’Keefe attended in New Jersey, and during his previous employment with the Census Bureau last year. In his video, Mr. O’Keefe, an admitted criminal, does not disclose that he previously worked for the Census Bureau for nearly two months in 2009 without incident, allegation or complaint.

“That employment with us was well before his indictment and prior to his conviction of a federal crime last week. The Census Bureau obviously does not condone any falsifying of or tampering with time sheets by its employees. We are investigating the allegations in Mr. O’Keefe’s selectively edited video and will take appropriate administrative action with staff as warranted. ”

A Census Bureau official also noted that O’Keefe’s decision to videotape the training sessions appears to violate Commerce Department policies against recording conversations.

O’Keefe confirmed that he worked for the agency last summer for about a month compiling addresses as part of 2010 Census preparations. He was hired again this April and quit after two days of training before receiving further instructions in order to avoid any privacy concerns, he said in an interview.

Washington Post: Stricter hiring rules at the Census Bureau

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

In response to recent incidents and pressure from lawmakers, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves has made hiring rules more tough. MyTwoCensus has for more than a year exposed holes in the Census Bureau’s hiring plan and fingerprinting procedures, so this shouldn’t come as a major surprise. However, this action may further fuel the class action lawsuit against the Census Bureau. Here’s the latest from Ed O’Keefe and Carol Morello of The Washington Post:

The Census Bureau is adopting stricter rules for screening new hires after a registered sex offender using an alias got a job as a census taker, the bureau’s director said Wednesday.

Robert M. Groves said that from now on, applicants whose name, age, gender and Social Security number don’t all match background records will be held up for more investigation instead of being sent on for FBI fingerprint checks. Applicants whose fingerprints are not legible, as sometimes happens with older people whose ridges have worn down, will not be hired until their identities and backgrounds can be checked.

And when there is any “evidence of criminality” by a census worker, Groves said, there will be swifter invention to get them off the streets.

“These three things are good things to do,” said Groves, speaking at a Fairfax event that aimed to encourage Asian Americans to open their doors to census takers and answer their questions. “People should know that the person coming to your door won’t harm you.”

In early May, a woman in Pennsauken, N.J., who was home alone with her toddler son, opened her door to a census worker who asked for the names and birth dates of everyone residing there. Thinking he looked familiar, the woman checked the sex offender registry site after he left and recognized the man under a different name than the one he had given her.

Census officials said the man had passed a name check but failed a fingerprint check and was fired in the first week of May, apparently after he had visited the woman’s home. The man was charged with using a fake Social Security number in his census application.

In a separate incident, a census worker in Indiana was charged with raping and beating a disabled woman in early May when he allegedly returned to the house after first visiting on an official call as a census taker.

The Census Bureau has hired about 635,000 people to make house calls to people who did not send in their census forms by the end of April. This phase is more than half completed, and is scheduled to continue into July.

Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post analyzes yesterday’s report from the Inspector General

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Thanks to Ed for  the following:

Frequent glitches in the computer system built to manage the 2010 Census could jeopardize its accuracy and drive up costs beyond its $15 billion price tag, according to a new watchdog report.

The findings by the Commerce Department’s inspector general come as roughly 600,000 census takers fan out nationwide to visit about 48 million addresses where nobody mailed back a census form.

The quarterly progress report found that problems persist with the agency’s paper-based operations-control system, a computer program developed to manage data collected by census takers. Several local Census Bureau offices are experiencing outages of several hours to entire days, the report said.

Those delays contributed to $1.6 million in clerical overtime costs in the first quarter, and the cost will probably rise in the next two months as census takers complete their work, the report said.

Because of computer delays, local census offices also could misplace completed paper questionnaires that are waiting to be processed.

“Questionnaires can be misplaced, for example, by storing them with questionnaires that have already been checked in,” the report said. If those forms are not processed, “the persons identified in the questionnaires may not be counted.”

The report reinforces concerns raised last week by the Government Accountability Office during a congressional hearing on census operations.

The Census Bureau developed the computer system in 2008 after scrapping plans to use handheld computers built for the agency. The decision left little time to develop the software, and officials have since said the system probably poses the most risk to census operations.

“As we have publicly disclosed to Congress, our oversight agencies and the press, the operational control system is not optimal, and remains a risk,” Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner said in an e-mail. “However we do not foresee cost overruns of the type speculated upon in this report.”

Census Director Robert M. Groves has vowed to keep census operations under budget in hopes of returning funds to the Treasury. But he acknowledged potential operational issues this week in a blog post written to his 600,000 new hires.

“Nothing as large as the decennial census can be trouble-free,” Groves said. “Despite the years of development, things will go wrong.”

Official Census Bureau “Participation Rate” Stats/Trends/Data Available Here

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Check out this slideshow depicting recent data/trends that was shown at yesterday’s Census Bureau press conference (transcript of the press conference coming here ASAP).

Senate passes “Census mailer” bill

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

H/t to Ed O’Keefe at the Washington Post for the following:

With just six days left until 2010 Census forms are due back, the Senate approved a measure Friday that bans deceptive mailings that use the word “Census” without a disclaimer.

Democrats, senior citizens and civil rights groups have denounced mailings by the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee that prominently featured the word “Census” and “Official Document” on the document and envelope. Though the U.S. Postal Service ruled the mailings legal, opponents argued they could confuse Americans who were waiting for the government’s census forms to arrive in the mail.

The Senate unanimously approved the measure along with 12 other unrelated bills. It requires mailings with an envelope marked “Census” to clearly state the sender’s return address and a disclaimer that the mailing is not from the federal government. Mailers could still use the word “census” on an envelope or document so long as it carries the disclaimer. The House unanimously passed the bill March 10.

Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post live-blogs the process of filling out his 2010 Census form…

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

To make a long story short, it took Ed only a few minutes (significantly less than the ten minutes the Census Bureau advertises it will take) to complete his form. But to watch him on video, HERE’S THE LINK.

Census News Round-Up: Call Center Hiring, Census Forms Being Distributed, Groves Testifies In Washington About 2010 Census Jobs, New York Undercount?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

1. From the Atanta Journal-Constitution: Ryla is hiring 1,400 people in Georgia to work at call centers from April-August, presumably for the Census Bureau’s non-response follow-up operations.

2. From the Terry Haute, Indiana Tribune Star: 2010 Census materials are already being distributed in hard-to-count areas of Indiana.

3. From Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post:

A majority of the roughly 1.2 million temporary jobs created by the U.S. Census Bureau this year will be created in the late spring, agency Director Robert Groves said Tuesday.

Groves told a Senate subcommittee that 600,000 to 700,000 census takers will be hired from May through early July to visit individual households that fail to return census forms. Some workers currently employed in temporary positions are expected to reapply for new positions and get hired, he said.

“We over-recruited, clearly underestimating the labor market,” Groves said, acknowledging that the nation’s employment situation provided the Census Bureau with a wealth of eager applicants who, according to an agency statement, showed up for training at a much higher rate than they did during the 2000 Census.

4. The venerable New York Times reports that, “The city and the Census Bureau hope to avoid a repeat of the 1990 census, when the city challenged the count and the bureau acknowledged that it missed more than 240,000 New Yorkers.”

The Final Word on the Super Bowl ad debacle…

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

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.

The following words are from The Federal Eye blog by Ed O’Keefe:

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 was directed by Christopher Guest and starred Ed Begley Jr. and alums of Guest’s cult classics, “Best in Show,” “For Your Consideration” and “A Mighty Wind.”

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!”

The ad also ranked poorly in USA Today’s annual Super Bowl ad viewer survey, ranking towards the bottom between a CareerBuilder.com ad and one for the new Wolfman movie. (But it did beat the controversial ad starring Tim Tebow.)

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 Shales also 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-Leader seized 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 concerns raised 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.

Census Vets Tapped for New Advisory Board

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Many thanks to Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post for breaking the following story:

Census Vets Tapped for New Advisory Board

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has tapped three Census Bureau veterans to serve as part-time advisers on operational, management and contracting issues while President Obama’s nominee to serve as Census director awaits a full Senate confirmation vote.

The trio includes Dr. Kenneth Prewitt, who served as bureau director from 1998 to 2001 and was widely believed to be the leading candidate for the position until suddenly withdrawing earlier this year with little explanation.

Kenneth Prewitt
Former Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt will return in a temporary advisory role.

Obama instead nominated Dr. Robert Groves for the job in April, but his nomination has been held up ever since he cleared the Senate’s government affairs panel in late May.

As Groves awaits a final vote, Locke will consult with Prewitt, National Opinion Research Center president John Thompson and former Census chief financial officer Nancy Potok. The trio will draft a list of suggestions for Locke, who will pass them off to Groves if he’s confirmed.

The move, first mentioned in late April and not formally announced until today, has raised the ire of congressional Republicans who fear the White House is “back dooring” Prewitt into the director’s job without formal congressional confirmation.

“By bringing in these outsiders with strong personalities, the Bureau runs the risk of having too many cooks in the kitchen challenging the actions of career civil servants who have worked for 18 months to ensure a successful 2010 Census,” Kurt Bardella, spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said in a statement. Issa leads a House GOP Census Task Force established earlier this year to monitor the Obama administration’s execution of next year’s headcount.

“We are within ten months of Census Day, the last thing we need is a structural change that could jeopardize the success of the Decennial,” Bardella added.

Commerce officials stress that the three are merely serving as advisers and that Groves “will run the agency with the independence and professionalism that the American people expect and the Constitution demands,” according to a department statement set for release today. The consultants “will use their decades of experience to tell us just what steps require immediate attention to make the 2010 Census a success.”

Groves will have to wait until at least July 6 for a Senate confirmation vote. The Senate approved a dozen other Obama nominees last Friday, but at least 30 other nominees are in limbo. Administration officials believe Republicans have blocked them out of anger with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s timetable for Sonia Sotomayor‘s Supreme Court nomination.

Prewitt currently serves as a Columbia University professor and ran NORC before serving as Census director. Thompson is a 27-year Census veteran who had responsibility for the management, operations, and methodology of the 2000 national headcount.

Potok, a 29-year Census veteran, served as principal associate director and CFO during the 2000 census and currently serves as chief operating officer of management consulting firm McManis & Monsalve Associates.

Congressman weighs in on inconsistent hiring figures

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Update: We understand that many of our readers are hoping to find out more information about the FedEx-gate Scandal. We will be holding our next post on this issue until tomorrow morning as we are currently fact-checking new major allegations.

Earlier today, Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post reported, “the House lawmaker charged with overseeing the Census has expressed some early, if only vague concerns about how Census workers have performed their address canvassing duties, or the national inventory of every place of residence.

“While I’m very pleased that Address Canvassing has gone well for the most part, it’s too early to declare the operation a complete success because there are still some unanswered questions,” Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said in a statement yesterday. “The Commerce Department Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office have both expressed concern about some listers not following procedures for Address Canvassing and some shortcomings in quality control measures.” A spokesman would not elaborate.”‘

Below, please find a press release that echoes many of the issues that MyTwoCensus has previously reported about employment and unemployment figures not adding up. Apparently at least one member of Congress (Patrick McHenry) has caught on…

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Brock McCleary
June 9, 2009 Phone: (202) 225-2576

McHenry: Is the Administration erroneously counting census jobs?

WASHINGTON – Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, issued the following query regarding Obama Administration officials’ claims that the stimulus package will “save or create” 600,000 jobs over the next 100 days.

“As hiring for the 2010 Census continues, the American people ought to know whether the Obama Administration is attempting to include the thousands of temporary and part-time census workers in their count of 600,000 jobs ‘saved or created.’

“Including census workers would be disingenuous at best.  First, the Obama Administration didn’t invent the census; these are positions which are created every ten years, regardless of who occupies the White House.

“Furthermore, attempting to combine these part-time and temporary jobs to count them as full-time positions is not an accurate picture of the nature of the work.  As many families struggling to make ends meet with a series of part-time jobs can tell you, two part-time jobs does not equal one full-time job.

“I hope the Administration will be forthcoming about whether these temporary positions, which would have been created regardless of stimulus spending, are included in their jobs count.”

Note:    The 2010 Decennial Census is expected to result in 200,000 hires in 2009, which the Office of Management and Budget scores as the equivalent of 17,197 full-time positions.  In 2010, the Census Bureau will hire an estimated 700,000 workers, the equivalent of 105,391 full-time positions.

###

Virginia Loses Farmland, Farmers Get Older

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

In a headline to trump all headlines, a story from today’s Washington Post reads: Virginia Loses Farmland, Farmers Get Older. As the results of America’s 2007 Agriculture Census were published today, it became clear that Virginia hasn’t gained any new territory and hasn’t acquired any farmers who have lifetime passes to the Fountain of Youth. In keeping with commenting on statistics immediately after they are published, MSNBC notes that fewer people are turning to farming for a living.

To end our night with a touch of bitterness on the Agriculture Census topic, one North Dakotan feels that the stats published today are an absolute sham, as he’s noticed plenty of abandoned rural homesteads, despite the report’s finding that North Dakota’s agribusiness is doing A-OK.