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Friday, August 06, 2010

Guesstimating the "actual enumeration" in the Census

The Constitution requires that there be an "actual enumeration" of the population every ten years. But in today's age, that is becoming even more problematic, especially when there are Acorn-like procedures for how to count people. Federal investigators are looking into several allegations of workers falsifying the data they're collecting in California.
The California investigations aren't yet complete, but the whistleblowers who filed the complaints charge that the problems boiled down to management's demands.

"The goals had everything to do with speed, and nothing to do with accuracy," said Craig Baltz, a former worker in one of the Census Bureau's two Fresno, Calif. offices. "Instead of slowing down to ensure accurate data, we sped up."

Baltz charged that in some difficult-to-reach areas, "enumerators had two choices: Turn in accurate work and get written up or terminated, or falsify data and keep working." Baltz worked for the census from last October till July.

In one case, a former census worker allegedly tallied residents of a migrant farm workers' camp in California's San Joaquin Valley, but the camp itself was empty, abandoned because of the region's shortage of irrigation water.
But don't worry. The national office is on the case.
"There was abuse of authority and mismanagement," charged Nell Taylan, a veteran human relations specialist who worked in the Salinas office. "I've never seen anything like it."

Census Bureau officials say they've done everything possible to ensure an accurate population tabulation. Asked specifically about alleged problems in California, a spokesman referred to comments July 27 by [National Director] Groves in which he stressed the agency's nationwide quality-control efforts, which include double-checking answers from a sampling of households.

Groves said that suspicious errors that could mean falsification of data were made by "less than a thousand" of the 565,000 field interviewers nationwide.
Does anyone buy that the National Director of the Census has any ability to estimate how many interviewers falsified data? Then there are the possible IT problems. If there were problems in California, do you think that the other states are immune?


Bachbone said...

Even if Acorn is caught red-handed, there's probably something in the ObamaCare mess stating that it's up to some bureaucrat, taking the matter of out the hands of Congress, to fix the problem. Congress has allowed itself to become almost irrelevant. Pelosi and Reid should just fire them all and spend the "saved" salaries on something useful, like buying Ford Motor Company for the UAW, so Obama & Co. could control the entire American car manufacturing sector.

davod said...

On a Saturday morning a few weeks ago I arrived at the Borders bookstore in Baileys Crossroad Virginia. The coffee shop was overflowing with people from the Census Bureau. So much so that there were few seats available for paying customers (I say this because some of the Census people had refreshments from other shops).

When I managed to get a seat and looked around I noticed that some of the workers were filling in census forms.

After a while I called the Census Bureau and reported what I had seen.

Someone in the Virgina office said that the Borders was on the list as a valid place for the workers to work (I bet Borders is happy).

The lady said that the workers were not working on the population census. This response did satisfy me, even after it was confirmed by a supervisor. Why would a census worker be completing any census form?

tfhr said...


Count yourself among those who wonder what the sense is in census workers filling out census forms at Borders. My sense is that they could stay at home - even go to - and be just as productive, just as valid, and just as expensive.

foxmarks said...

When trying to get the required information from a busy or difficult respondent, we make notes or fill in only parts of the forms.

At home, or at some place like a book store, we have time to put what we learned into the correct format for the computer-read forms.

Using anything but capital letters, or stray marks on the form outside the boxes would cause the form to be rejected and we would have to erase and re-fill.

There is also a significant portion of the form that relates to the Enumerator and the Census process instead of the population count. No need to fill that stuff while standing at someone’s door.