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Audit: Millions Wasted On Census So Far

Speaking of government creating jobs, here is a bit of unsurprising news from a nevertheless unfazed Associated Press:

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves leaves the home of World War II veteran and village elder Clifton Jackson, 89, in the remote Inupiat Eskimo village Noorvik, Alaska.

Audit finds US census preparations wasted millions

Hope Yen, Associated Press Writer, On Tuesday February 16, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Census Bureau wasted millions of dollars in preparation for its 2010 population count, including thousands of temporary employees who picked up $300 checks without performing work and others who overbilled for travel costs.

Federal investigators caution the excessive charges could multiply once the $15 billion headcount begins in earnest next month unless the agency imposes tighter spending controls, according to excerpts of a forthcoming audit obtained by The Associated Press.

On a positive note, investigators backed the Census Bureau’s decision to spend $133 million on its advertising campaign, saying it was appropriate to boost public awareness. The spending included a $2.5 million Super Bowl spot that some Republicans had criticized as wasteful.

The findings by Todd Zinser, the Commerce Department’s inspector general, highlight the difficult balancing act for the Census Bureau as it takes on the Herculean task of manually counting the nation’s 300 million residents amid a backdrop of record levels of government debt.

Because the population count, done every 10 years, is used to distribute U.S. House seats and billions in federal aid, many states are pushing for all-out government efforts in outreach since there is little margin for error — particularly for Democratic-leaning minorities and the poor, who tend to be undercounted. At the same time, the national headcount will employ 1 million temporary workers and is the most expensive ever, making it a visible sign of rising government spending.

The federal hiring has been widely touted by the government as providing a lift to the nation’s sagging employment rate — but investigators found it also had waste.

The audit, scheduled to be released next week, examined the Census Bureau’s address-canvassing operation last fall, in which 140,000 temporary workers walked block by block to update the government’s mailing lists and maps.

While the project finished ahead of schedule, Census director Robert Groves in October acknowledged the costs had ballooned $88 million higher than the original estimate of $356 million, an overrun of 25 percent. He cited faulty assumptions in the bureau’s cost estimates.

Among the waste found by investigators:

–More than 10,000 census employees were paid over $300 apiece to attend training for the massive address-canvassing effort, but they quit or were otherwise let go before they could perform any work. Cost: $3 million.

–Another 5,000 employees collected $300 for the same training, and then worked a single day or less. Cost $1.5 million.

–Twenty-three temporary census employees were paid for car mileage costs at 55 cents a mile, even though the number of miles they reported driving per hour exceeded the total number of hours they actually worked.

–Another 581 employees who spent the majority of their time driving instead of conducting field work also received full mileage reimbursements, which investigators called questionable….

And this is even after the Census Bureau cancelled their partnership with ACORN.

Also, note that this Associated Press piece defends the $2.5 million the Census wasted on that Super Bowl ad — which should have been a PSA (Public Service Announcement), which normally get produced for bargain basement prices and which TV stations are required to run for free.

(Thanks to Canary for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, February 17th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “Audit: Millions Wasted On Census So Far”

  1. canary says:

    AP: Census Bureau Wasted Millions on 2010 Headcount Preparations, Audit Finds
    Feb 16 2010…

    The Census Bureau wasted millions of dollars in preparation for its 2010 population count,…

    At the same time, the national headcount will employ 1 million temporary workers and is the most expensive ever, making it a visible sign of rising government spending.

    The audit, scheduled to be released next week, examined the Census Bureau’s address-canvassing operation last fall, in which 140,000 temporary workers walked block by block to update the government’s mailing lists and maps.

    –More than 10,000 census employees were paid over $300 apiece to attend training for the massive address-canvassing effort, but they quit or were otherwise let go before they could perform any work. Cost: $3 million.

    As to the Super Bowl ads, Republicans including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have questioned the $2.5 million purchase, which included two 30-second pregame spots, on-air mentions and a 30-second ad during the third-quarter.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/02/16/census-bureau-wasted-millions-headcount-preparations-audit-finds/?test=latestnews

    NOTE: “..in which 140,000 temporary workers walked block by block to update the government’s mailing lists and maps…”

    This doesn’t sound right. I’m not sure an old friend of mine works for the postal service, but his job years ago, was keeping addresses in the entire nation in a computer data base. He gave discs to businesses to do large mailings. He said that managers got paid according to the number of addresses they had in their town or area, and so they had addresses on houses before they were completed being built, and didn’t want to inform of houses torn down. He said other postal mgrs drove around areas to keep an eye on this, and keep things accurate or businesses would of course become angry if they wasted postage on wrong addresses. So, wouldn’t the government make an easy move and get the discs. And that was twenty years ago, so being 2010 the technology, such as machines that can read handwriting, etc. would be more advanced than ever.
    Also, I have a relative out of state that makes the cards for business’s that go through a machine to put addresses on envelopes or stickers, and gets the exact order and thousands at a time, with the promise to update changes as part of the service. He may have gone computerized now, but last I heard he still got the addresses from the postal service.

    • U NO HOO says:

      The Post Office/Postal Service knows where everybody lives. And if it doesn’t they look in the phone book.

      Been there, done that.

      See below.

    • jobeth says:

      U no Hoo, Last year someone came to our door and ask if I was…my name…and I said “yes…what can I help you with?”…He was a census worker, he said. ???????????????? What the heck…it was 2009. He immediately turned and left. As I said…??????

      I see that now there actually was such people.

      But still….as you said the Post Office knows who lives where and where all the new addresses are since the last census.

      Not only them, but the local property tax offices have a current list of addresses.

      Still don’t understand why he had to know if we were …our name…. What difference did it make? At that point they only needed to know there was a dwelling being inhabited at that address.

      Still don’t want to give them more info than name,rank and serial number. Thinking seriously in looking into my ancestry to see what minority I might have 2000 years ago that I can claim. That should gum up their works and yet still be truthful! LOL

  2. proreason says:

    “Audit: Millions Wasted On redistributed by Census So Far”

    fixed the typo in the headline

  3. NoNeoCommies says:

    Census?
    All this time I thought it was “Senseless”.

  4. U NO HOO says:

    Someone came to our house, a ranch, and asked if anyone was living over our garage.

    And, we pay a per capita tax, an earned income tax, a state income tax, and a federal income tax, a school property tax, and a local municipality (township) property tax, how hard is it to count people?

    And the local volunteer fire and ambulance corps have a list of residents.

    Etc.

  5. wirenut says:

    U NO, screw the USPS. If you want to find somebody, talk to the UPS, or any private carrier. They do it for less and they always deliver. The Post office still has (RETURN TO SENDER).

    • jobeth says:

      If you REALLY want to find someone…ask the IRS. You’ll NEVER lose them!

      Seems to me they already have all the information they could ever want, right there on the Tax records.

    • proreason says:

      My alumni association has doggedly tracked me down through at least 10 address changes in 2 countries, 3 states, and 7 cities over decades.

      And I’ve never given them a dime or contacted them.

      I get phone calls from them as well. It’s always a really nice college kid.

      I always tell them I’m about to lose my house and be thrown in debtor’s prison, because of Obamy’s policies.

      Actually, it’s not that far from the truth.

  6. canary says:

    The Census Bureau isn’t walking their flying house to house. U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves looks happy on his free trip to Alaska walking in modern neighborhood with homes, electricity & telephone pings.

    A party to go igloo to igloo would take experienced survival guides & equipment, a ship, plane, helicopter, and a sled of dogs.


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