Tuesday, 01 June 2010

2010 Census Fraud

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January 4, 2010, CNN’s Audrey Singer wrote an article, "Census 2010 Can Count on Controversy," which predicted a variety of controversial issues that would surround the 2010 Census. Singer’s focus was on the “political and equity arguments” that would likely erupt. However, what Singer did not predict were questionable hiring practices and abuse of taxpayer money. 

New York Post writer John Crudele reports that Census workers “blew the whistle on some statistical tricks.” Two weeks ago, Census worker Naomi Cohn reported to the New York Post that she had been hired and fired by the Census Board a number of times in order to report the creation of new jobs to the Labor Department. Two more workers came forward with similar claims. 

One Census worker from Manhattan addressed a note to Crudele where he indicated the following:

“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.” 

You may be wondering how is this possible. The Census Bureau reports monthly new job figures to the Labor board. Those figures are factored into the monthly employment report, though the Labor board does not investigate whether or not the reported jobs are actually new or “recycled.”  Likewise, a job is considered to be “new” if someone is hired to work as little as one hour per month. New jobs at the Census Bureau have had an impact on the employment figures in the past few months. 

Not only is the manipulation of new job figures a scam, but the misuse of taxpayer money is unconscionable, particularly as can be seen in the report provided by the second Census worker:

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 assignments. 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 tme that I was ‘terminated.’ She elaborated that she had to terminate three other people for being five minutes late to class. I did get two days’ pay and I am sure the ‘late people’ got paid also. I think you would concur that this is an expensive way to attempt to control sickness plus lateness. I am totally convinced that the Census work could be very easily done by the US Postal Service.” 

These types of fraudulent practices are evidential of the trappings of bureaucracy and government regulation: wasteful spending and misrepresentation. The next time critics oppose government interference in the private sector, one needs not look further than the 2010 Census to understand why.

On May 25, President Obama reported, “the economy is growing and adding jobs again.” In light of the recent evidence that new job figures are easily manipulated, perhaps Americans should question the source of Obama’s information, particularly as unemployment remains relatively fixed at approximately 9 percent.   

Photo: Census Bureau Director Robert Groves at a briefing for reporters on the 2010 Census on May 3, at the National Press Club in Washington: AP Images
 

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