Waste, fraud and abuse at 2010 Census (the most expensive in history)

The 2010 U.S, Census is the government boondoggle of the decade–and it’s only 2010.

Sean Hannity has just mentioned today’s New York Post story as I type this, but let’s begin with this May 21st story from Breitbart’s Big Government:

Most Expensive Census in History
by William Shughart II
How much will it cost to count noses this year? No one really knows. The Census Bureau began planning for 2010 immediately after 2000. It is not yet fully ready. Preparations for 2010 have been plagued by fraud, cost-overruns and failures of computer hardware and software.
Even then, the 2010 census promised to be the most expensive in history, estimated to cost $11.3 billion, after adjusting for inflation.
Meanwhile, estimated costs have skyrocketed to $14.7 billion.
The 2010 Census of Population will be, by all appearances, a major boondoggle. The only saving grace is that the “long-form” has been dropped in favor of the “short form,” thereby economizing somewhat on respondents’ time. Still, based on current estimates, it will cost an average of $47 per person to conduct this year’s head count—not including the value of householders’ time filling out paper forms.

One person per household fills out the form. For my household of four, the government is spending $200. The actual census paper and mailing shouldn’t have cost more than $1. We got a letter in March telling us that our census form would be on the way–why?

A few here might recall the wasteful spending on a puzzlingly incomprehensible Super Bowl ad.

Rush Limbaugh had a caller discuss questionable census hiring practices recently:

The Census Worker Scam of 2010
April 29, 2010
RUSH: Travis in Reliance, Tennessee, you’re next on the Rush Limbaugh program. Hi.
CALLER: My ex-wife who lives in Gulf Shores, Alabama, her real estate business has gone to pot so she’s a temporary census taker. Here’s the low down on census takers. They go through four days training. At the time they start their training, they go on the employment rolls. After they finish their four-day training they go into a pool. Now, my ex-wife worked two-and-a-half weeks as a census taker and went back into the pool. She waited a month to try to get back to work, she went to the headquarters to find out when she could go back at work and they were still training people on four days training, even though the pool had several people waiting to get back to work.

RUSH: Wait a minute, you’re saying they had more census takers than they needed?

CALLER: Absolutely, and they kept training them.

RUSH: A-ha. To get them on the payroll.

CALLER: That’s right. And the thing is, because they only worked four days they’re not eligible for unemployment so they never get reported again as being on the unemployment rolls.

RUSH: So it’s nothing more than a scam to have the unemployment numbers appear to be getting better when they’re not?

CALLER: That’s exactly right.

A week ago, John Crudele wrote this in the New York Post:

My royal runaround with the Census Bureau
Posted: 12:53 AM, May 18, 2010
Last week I got a call from Naomi Cohn, an unemployed lawyer from Brooklyn, who decided to apply for a temporary job as an $18.75 an hour enumerator with the Census.

As she told me — and later wrote in the Sunday Post on May 9 — she succeeded. But after three days of paid training, she was only called for 10 hours of work over two days. And nothing since. No explanation.

Cohn said this wasn’t unusual. Many of the 80 others in her training class weren’t getting many hours either.
Slice one 40-hour job into 40 one-hour jobs and you might be able to report significant employment gains. It’ll all be nonsense, of course.
As I was investigating this column I got the royal runaround from the Census Bureau. Nobody could explain anything.

This all leads to today’s New York Post column:

Two more Census workers blow the whistle
Posted: 12:42 AM, May 25, 2010
“John: I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census.

“I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs.

“I have been paid more to train all four times than I have been paid to actually produce results. These are my tax dollars and your tax dollars at work.

“A few months ago I was trained for three days and offered five hours of work counting the homeless. Now, I am knocking (on) doors trying to find the people that have not returned their Census forms. I worked the 2000 Census. It was a far more organized venture.”

Here’s the second story:

“John: I worked for (Census) and I was paid $18.75 (an hour) just like Ms. Naomi Cohn from your article.

“I worked for about six weeks or so and I picked the hours I wanted to work. I was checking the work of others. While I was classifying addresses, another junior supervisor was checking my work.

“In short, we had a “checkers checking checkers” quality control. I was eventually let go and was told all the work was finished when, in fact, other people were being trained for the same assignment(s).

“I was re-hired about eight months later and was informed that I would have to go through one week of additional training.

“On the third day of training, I got sick and visited my doctor. I called my supervisor and asked how I can make up the class. She informed me that I was ‘terminated.’ She elaborated that she had to terminate three other people for being five minutes late to class.”

A comment tells the same story:

05/25/2010 6:44 PM
I’m in the Midwest and everyone I spoke to, who worked for the Census Bureau, experienced the same thing. One week of training….2 days of work…laid off…called back…laid off. I left after the first day of training because the supervisor teaching the class kept referring to his colleagues in the most demeaning way…”idiots, The 3 Stooges”, etc. Thousands of tax dollars were wasted on the census.

FINALLY, there’s a response from the Census in the comments:


05/25/2010 4:18 PM

This article distorts the Census Bureau’s employment and reporting practices; it?s important to set the record straight.

First, the Census Bureau does not hire, then fire, and then rehire anyone. Any employee who is fired is fired for cause. We train and hire temporary workers for various operations, most significantly Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) to complete work assignments. When the work is complete, the temporary worker goes into an inactive status. They may be re-activated if there is more work to do, or for another subsequent operation. At no time do we count a re-activation from non-working status as a “rehire.”

The article goes on to state: “Labor doesn’t check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

This is simply inaccurate. The Census Bureau reports to the Department of Labor and on our public website the number of people paid for work during a given week. We do not report the number of jobs. The Census Bureau reports the total number of unduplicated temporary 2010 workers that earned any pay during a specific weekly pay period. Temporary workers earning any pay during the week are counted only once. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measures changes in employment levels — not the actual level itself — and looks only at the week which includes the 12th day of the month. It is simply not possible for Census to engage in the manipulation of data to artificially inflate the employment report of the BLS in the manner alleged by this news column.

We hope you will correct this article.
Shelly Lowe, Census Bureau Public Information Office

Ah, so it’s weekly! “The Census Bureau reports to the Department of Labor and on our public website the number of people paid for work during a given week.” Could a person be counted four times in a month?

Was the Rush caller lying? Was the first person to write into the New York Post lying? Were the two people whose stories are published today lying? Is the person who wrote a comment today lying?

Why all the Census layoffs and the Census training for the same jobs? Is Shelly Lowe saying that never happened?

Shelly Lowe also corrected the record when the NY Post story also appeared on the blog My Two Census.

Here’s an old post on Senator Tom Coburn’s website:

$11 Billion and Counting: the 2010 Census
Coburn Hearing to Examine 80 Percent Cost Increase For Low-Tech 2010 Census
June 6, 2006
The Census Bureau currently estimates the 2010 Census will cost $11.3 billion (non-inflation adjusted), almost an 80 percent increase, or $5 billion more, than the 2000 Census.

Only $11.3 billion, Tom? That’s AT LEAST $2.5 billion short.

2000 CENSUS COST: $6.5 billion
2010 CENSUS COST: $14.7 billion (at least)

Who knew that there was so much inflation? Wasn’t the Dow Jones Industrial Average about 10,000 in 2000 and about 10,000 now in 2010?

Senator Tom Coburn, are you still there? Is any government official listening?

Wanna look into waste, fraud and abuse in the 2010 Census?