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Eye Opener: More Census Woes

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Tuesday! In the words of the New York Times editorial board today, "Welcome once again to the one-step forward, two-steps backward world of the 2010 census."

It hasn't been a very good few days for the folks charged with counting every American. First, the GOP puts a hold on the nomination of Robert Groves for no apparent reason. This means Groves still cannot take the reins of an agency set to perform the largest, most expensive headcount in American history.

"It is hard to imagine the public interest that is being served by the hold," the NYT editorial board writes today. "It is easy, unfortunately, to imagine the political interest. A leaderless Census Bureau is unlikely to pull off an accurate count. Inaccurate tallies tend to favor Republicans, because a bad census misses hard-to-count groups that tilt Democratic, like minorities and immigrants, thus over-representing easy-to-count suburbanites who tilt Republican.

Then there's this: The Web site has discovered that the bureau has been spending millions of dollars to mail non-urgent documents with FedEx.

"The initial tip that led to this investigation came from a former Census Bureau employee who wrote to us, 'On Tuesday, May 26, I received a FED EX package from the temporary East Los Angeles office of the Census marked 'PRIORITY OVERNIGHT DELIVERY' containing one thing: a regular-size white envelope, with my address written on it, containing two pieces of official paperwork: (a) 1-page personnel office document stating I was hired March 30, and (b) 1-page personnel office document stating I was let go April 20 because of lack of work. I have no idea why they sent this PRIORITY OVERNIGHT DELIVERY, but at $20 or so a pop, times 140,000 workers nationwide, that’s a lot of money. ($2.8 million in fact).'"

"The problem, in this and thousands of other instances, is that the message inside this $20 FedEx package could have just as easily been sent using standard first class mail via the U.S. Postal Service (for a mere ¢44) to reach its non-urgent nearby location within 24 hours." The mailings come amid a big infusion of cash from the economic stimulus package and a request for approximately $7 billion in next year's budget.

Finally, 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.

Thoughts? Discuss below.

Cabinet and Staff News: Education Secretary Arne Duncan says teachers should be judged on student performance. There's another classic turf war brewing in the intelligence community. Obama builds his nonproliferation team. FAA Chief Randy Babbitt faces Senate grilling on commuter airline safety. Georgetown University professor Cindy Mann to oversee CHIP and Medicaid. Hillary Clinton orders a security review following news of the Cuba spy. Two more DHS nominees approved. TARP watchdog wants a do-over.

Legislation Leaves Retirees On One Side, Unions on Other: Joe Davidson writes today about the debate over annuitants.

Obama Pleases Unions With Labor Relations Appointments: After a long stretch of vacancies at the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the president has started to make appointments.

CIA Urges Judge To Keep Bush-Era Documents Sealed: The Obama administration objected yesterday to the release of certain Bush-era documents that detail the videotaped interrogations of CIA detainees at secret prisons, arguing to a federal judge that doing so would endanger national security and benefit al-Qaeda's recruitment efforts.

Bill for Federal Regulation of Tobacco Advances: A Senate vote Monday put Congress in sight of fulfilling a decade-old quest to put the content and marketing of tobacco products under the control of the federal government.

Army Report Shows How Rules That Don't Work Are Ignored: A report shows how dozens of senior and junior Army officers and enlisted men at Bagram, facing the post-Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist threat and under pressure to get information, ignored or directly violated interrogation elements in the Army Field Manual then in effect.

Plan to Coordinate Counternarcotics Technologies Unclear: The Obama administration's 2009 strategy for curtailing drug trafficking along the Southwest border includes plans to deploy surveillance, detection and inspection technologies, but offers little detail about coordinating those efforts with existing border security programs.

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 9, 2009; 6:10 AM ET
Categories:  Census, Eye Opener  
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Although the system of counting every american is not perfect, the Census is a system just the same. The question then becomes how would you begin to take it apart? Already we have improved on a system that is either, falling apart or broken. The U.S. Census was designed to do as much, for as little as possible. The much being, counting every american citizen, the little being the cost, or is that backward,... I don't know,... but what I do know is that in order for the census to be accurate, if I dare use the word, every person filling out the census has to meet certain pre-requisites:
1. The person filling out the census has to be the adult head of household.
-How many of us live in an extended household with people who might not be part of the household next year, let alone in the next ten.
2. The head of household has to be at least a tax paying, or a voting citizen.
-If not the census will not be, dare I say, accurate.
3. And this is one of the hardest criterion to figure out and that is the relationships to that all important 'head of household'.
-The only ones who can figure this one out are those who compile all the data received from the census forms, uncle Billy Bob and aunt Jennie Sue
So you see there is still to much human error in a system that is supposed count every person in spite of, which leads us back to the one and all important question, "Where are your daughters, and what are they doing?"

Posted by: edtroyhampton | June 9, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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