Repairing a Problem, Connecting With Local Leaders

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

I spent last Friday visiting with community leaders and census officials in Brooklyn, NY. In one local census office there, some staff reported inappropriate activities, violating our training guidelines among office staff. We investigated and studied how inappropriate office activities might have affected about 10,000 – 12,000 cases. Based on that investigation, we believe that about 4,000 of them may have not met our quality standards. We decided to redo those 4,000 cases with an independent set of enumerators.

I wanted to share with community leaders where we were in the process. I also thanked them for their cooperation and support throughout the 2010 decennial.

The actions of the office workers were abhorrent to the quality standards we seek to maintain. In this case, dedicated and conscientious office staff brought the breakdown in procedures to the attention of senior management at the Regional Office. We immediately terminated those staff that violated these procedures.

We are redoing work that we suspect might have been tainted by the inappropriate behaviors of the staff even though we are not positive that errors did affect each case. This is expensive and time-consuming, but it is a task that is absolutely necessary to fulfill the pledge we have to the American public that we aim to count every resident once and only once, and in the right place.

We’re checking other offices whenever we hear of possible violations of quality standards; when we find something we attempt to act on it quickly, repair it, and notify all interested parties about what we did.

Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to ask.census.gov

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15 Responses to Repairing a Problem, Connecting With Local Leaders

  1. bobbie says:

    I just called the 866-872-6868 number to ask about my mom and dad who are elderly, if they had filled out the form for the census. I could not understand a word this man was saying, plus he couldn’t understand me. This is the United States Census Bureau, a major requirement should be that you can speak and understand English very well. I asked the gentleman if he was in the United States and he said he was in Utah.

  2. Bob says:

    Sir,
    I don’t know if this applies to my case, but I would like to describe the following situation:
    1. My family responded to the census mailing.
    2. Nonetheless, a census worker came by the house and interviewed my wife.
    3. Following that, we began receiving computer generated messages requesting a census worker interview.
    4. I sent an email to both the Census Bureau as well as the Boston Regional Office on June 22 complaining about the constant computer generated voicemails. No response.
    5. I have since sent two more emails with zero response.
    I am extraordinarily disappointed at the obvious waste, fraud, and abuse displayed by the U.S. Census Bureau in the conduct of the 2010 Census.
    Understanding the need for a census, I simply do not understand a procedure where one fills out and returns a form via USPS; and then is visited by a census worker — yet assigns a case number and requests additional follow-up meetings. I consider repeated calls by a computer generated message to be a form of harassment. All this for 10 questions! This complete inefficiency explains why it costs $6 billion dollars of my tax money for this household of 4. Additionally, in my email I invited the Census Bureau to contact me again via USPS. I will gladly return a response if provided an envelope with prepaid postage. No response.
    This might explain some pushback that the Census Bureau is receiving.

  3. enumerator? says:

    The Midland, TX LCO has similar stuff going on as in Brooklyn. Enumerators being let go for no reason, CLs telling them to falsify EQs and 308s, information being lost, etc. I don’t think half of the questionnaires they are submitting are correct.

  4. Counted says:

    Bob, I don’t believe you should be getting computer-generated calls from the Census.
    I have a phone line which has been getting regular calls with a case number apparently due to someone using that number incorrectly on a census form. It took several calls to get these erroneous calls to stop. However in each case it was a human being (different one each time) calling from the Census bureau.
    I understand that there have been glitches and wish the director were more candid with what the violations were in this post but it’s clear that the Census is an enormous undertaking and is generally performing on schedule and under budget. Maybe you can go count 350 million people and report back on how it should be done.

  5. TxEnum says:

    Dr. Groves, I beg you to read this website: http://community.mytwocensus.com/.
    These things are happening all over the country. Falsification of information, lost confidential information, enumerators being threatened and mistreated by their CLs and FOS are all ubiquitous. This Census cannot possibly be close to accurate; we’re still encountering people who tell us they have not been counted, while we are visiting some homes for the fifth or sixth time.
    Please discover what is really going on the the LCOs all over the nation. Then fix it.

  6. M. Twain says:

    India is doing a census and they are multiple times bigger than U.S. so we should not overreact to our minor glitches.

  7. Michelle says:

    I am an enumerator and I am being pushed to produce more than is possible. I am encouraged to use the Internet to get information instead of visiting homes. Doing this will get a big bonus for someone over me, but I will be out of work sooner! It’s not just bad enumerators, people, it’s bad supervisors trying to get bonuses.

  8. DLS says:

    There are no bonuses awarded for finishing faster. I don’t even know where you think that, that is not the way of the Census.

  9. Field Enumerator says:

    Michelle, I’m not sure what area you are in, but during the NRFU operation, the Atlanta RCC put out a Memo dated 28 May 2010 stating the it was a violation of Census policy to use the internet to obtain ANY information. It was again brouight up during the training for the current VDC operation that if you used the internet you would be TERMINATED. Don’t get yourself in trouble, check on this.
    Fellow Enumerator in the Field…

  10. Proud to be a Born American... says:

    It’s a big problem in our country. I know it’s a liitle late for the Census, but they never should of hired someone who couldn’t speak UNDERSTANDABLE english….

  11. fl says:

    @DLS, maybe Mr. Groves would take the time to address whether District Managers at the RCC level get bonuses based on production ,speed, etc?

  12. Field Enumerator... says:

    Question for the Atlanta RCC, is the 2923 LCO having a shake-up?? We had to stop all our work in the field yesterday and turn-in all the AA Binders and EQ’s, even cases that weren’t finished!!! I’m concerned, any info from upper management would help understand what’s going on.

  13. Donald says:

    Repairing a problem, connecting with local leaders? Mr. Groves, its also time to connect with your census workforce…especially with your workforce out in the field. As an experienced Census Bureau Enumerator since 1990, now currently working on the NRFU-VDC task, I‘m a little concerned for your lack of connecting with us right now. I’ve already experienced more than a few clues from the very beginning of NRFU that whispered all sorts of failures going on almost daily during this 2010 Census. When you have inexperienced field operation supervisors and inexperienced crew leaders who have never enumerated on their own out in the field….teaching inexperienced temporary workers how to perform challenging operations out in the field, it’s why the public often asks us; “why can‘t you get it right?“ when we keep going back to some of the very same doors we’ve visited just a month ago. Then throw in a few Field Operation Supervisors and their assistants who had no where else to go after NRFU ended, yet some are turned into crew leaders for NRFU-VDC, all the while most of those individuals only know what working out in the field is about … is from what they read in the training material… All the while experienced crew leaders were turned back into enumerators, or let go. Then add an experienced enumerator like me, yet my own supervisors aren’t often interested hearing from me. Do you hear us now? Experience doesn’t seem to be a requirement for success in this 2010 Census effort, Mr. Groves. And now you have many of the same inexperienced enumerators and displaced supervisors and their assistants working in this latest task, for what you say will ensure “quality assurance?” From the LCO where temporary office staff are currently placing phone calls to the people who your enumerators interviewed out in the field just days ago, to the temporary enumerators who are now checking on each other…. What’s taking place right now doesn’t come close to “quality,” much less a hint of “assurance” this will come close to what you might have first expected. “Quality Assurance” should have been a separate operation, independent of all the local census offices….staffed in each city by experienced census personal independent of each census LCO and task operations. Much like the ACE operation during the 2000 Census. And I should know, because I was a part of that successful 2000 ACE operation, one that worked quite well. Unfortunately, what was learned from the success and failure of past census operations doesn’t seem to have been learned today. At least right now, Mr. Groves, I hope you’ll learn something from what’s too often going wrong today. Staying under budget and finishing early might bring you some brief praise, yet the often criticism and the “I told you so” and “what went wrong?” will soon follow.

  14. Concerned Enumerator in the Field... says:

    I sure concur with your comments…. now we just need to hear from upper management. Fellow enumerator.

  15. Concerned Enumerator says:

    OK I posted a comment on 08/05/10 I am a assistant crew leader/enumerator, again the count in New Orleans is a joke. The LCO was run by incompetent personnel that wanted to set their own procedue as opposed to following procedure mandated in the manuel. When told that the manual stated one thing you were threatened that if you don’t do it their way you would not have a job. Yet remember they are not signing that EQ verifying that the information is accurate.The hiring process was even a joke with spervisor test being open to allow someone to take the test that was working the the field office and be promoted to FOS only sending that one name to Regional as passing the test.In order to facilitate a speedy finish to VDC which started in New Orleans on July 14, 2010 and ended August 06,2010(with the numerous vacants and deletes of Hurricn Katrina)EQ’s were completed wrong, just so that the binders could be turned in.There were different rules in every district, binders were being taken by FOS’s from different districts when their work was completed. There has been numerous grievances written by concerned enumerators, but of course no answers have been given. I wrote a grievance and was told that the LOC could not accept it, that I had to call a 800 number to find out where to send it. There was not any field work done by the crew leaders in reference to verifying vacant and deletes that were no contact as per memo sent by Regional office, I could go on and on but it seems that no one is listening. Or perhaps they are CYA’ing because they were out of budget for not dismissing office staff that were not warranted until July 31, 2010, thereby having to cut field operations short to meet budget. I kon’t know, I just would like New Orleans, La. to have all the amneties that the census count would afford us. We are a hurting city already and the LCO that we were afforded did not do us justice. If needed I can justify all statements.

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