Eye Opener: More Census Woes
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 MyTwoCensus.com 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.
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Posted by: edtroyhampton | June 9, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse
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