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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Census Hired Too Many on Purpose

According to the Inspector General, the Census hired too many enumerators on purpose.

The U.S. Census purposefully hired more workers than it needed, telling the Office of the Inspector General of the Commerce Department that it did so as a “cost-saving measure,” according to a memorandum that Todd J. Zinser of the inspector general’s office sent to Census Bureau Director Robert Groves last week.

“According to Census,” said Zinser’s May 26 memo to Groves, “‘frontloading’ its workforce (i.e. hiring and training more enumerators than necessary to offset turnover) is a cost-saving measure.” The inspector general’s memo, however, suggested that in at least one Census Bureau operation excessive staff had increased the “cost of operations” and that in another operation deployment of an unnecessarily large number of workers "increased the operation’s direct labor and travel costs."

In the first quarter of this year (January-March), personnel from the inspector general’s office observed Census Bureau operations in four programs. These included “update/leave” (U/L), in which Census workers deliver questionnaires to homes that would not be reached by ordinary mail service; “update/enumerate” (U/E), which counts people in communities where the homes lack ordinary mailing addresses or street names; "enumeration at transitory locations" (ETL), which counts people at places where their residences are potentially mobile, such as recreational vehicle parks, campgrounds, marinas and carnivals; and “service-based enumeration” (SBE), which counts homeless people at places such as homeless shelters, mobile food vans and so-called “targeted non-sheltered outdoor locations” (TNSOL).

Enumerators go through 25-30 hours of training for a job that can then last up to eight weeks. What the IG's office has found is that enumerators didn't work more than 15 hours weekly on average. The IG's office found that their workload was reduced because the Census hired far more people than it needed. The Census said that it overestimated the amount of workers necessary by overestimating the turnover in its force.

Is that correct? Neil Cavuto doesn't think so.

The agency reporting that it would be easier to front-load such jobs, than go back and later fill those jobs.

Part of it makes sense … hiring and training more workers than necessary does offset turnover.

The problem is the unnecessarily large number of workers hired meant unnecessarily large direct labor and travel costs.

…all of which could explain an agency hiring and firing, then hiring back workers to fit that ever-changing demand.

Don't believe me.

Believe a woman named "Maria."

Maria is a Census worker who got up the guts to talk to us and whose immediate superior at Census confirmed in emails everything Maria said to us.

..That when laid off, and later hired back, she didn't count as a "re-hire," she counted as a "new" hire.

Here that again. She wasn't counted as someone getting back an "old" job, but a new job


Cavuto had New York Post investigative journalist John Crudele. Crudele has found a similar story to Cavuto in his own investigation.

A guy I'll call Mike has worked for Census 2010 several times in California over the past two years. The last time, he was trained at a facility that was an hour's drive from his home. He was paid for his commuting time at $17 an hour -- which is what he also got while working and training.

Mike says that he, like everyone else, was also given 50 cents a mile for gasoline.

The last time Mike worked for Census, the job lasted two weeks. He and the rest of his class had been promised eight weeks.

Mike says that after each stint with Census he, like everyone else, was given an official "termination" notice. And every time he was rehired Mike had to fill out a new employment application (more paperwork to be processed by paid workers).

Cavuot himself spoke with a census whistle blower named "Maria" that recounted a similar story. This has lead some to claim that the Obama administration is purposely running the Census inefficiently simply to beef up unemployment numbers.

Whatever the reason, several things are happening. First, taxpayer money is being wasted. People are hired and trained and then given little work. Then, they are re hired, retrained, and also given too little work. All of these people are given false hope that they will have a steady paycheck. Instead, they get little more than unemployment. Finally, all these folks are taken out of the private workforce where they may have found a steady private job.

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