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Waste, fraud and abuse at 2010 Census (Part II, with O’Keefe & Crudele stories)

Waste, fraud and abuse continues at the 2010 Census. This week’s stories by Big Government’s James O’Keefe and the New York Post’s John Crudele deserve discussion. Is anyone in Congress listening?

In my May 25th RedState post (“Waste, fraud and abuse at 2010 Census (the most expensive in history)”), I pointed out that the 2000 Census had cost $6.5 billion, while the 2010 Census seems to be heading to at least $15 billion–over twice as much. Wasteful hiring practices were told to Rush Limbaugh and to New York Post business writer John Crudele, who wrote two stories about it. More people were trained than were needed, people were hired and fired and then re-hired and re-trained (counting as two jobs), There was much duplication of the counting process–inefficiency everywhere!

James O’Keefe (of ACORN investigation fame) was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos here.

This is James O’Keefe’s report on the Census for Big Government:

Undercover Census Fraud Investigation – New Jersey
by James O’Keefe
Posted Jun 1st 2010 at 3:22 am in Census, Featured Story, Media Criticism | Comments (296)
On April 27, 2010, I got a job with the United States Census Bureau in New Jersey. With a hidden camera, I caught four Census supervisors encouraging enumerators to falsify information on their time sheets. Over the course of two days of training, I was paid for four hours of work I never did. I was told to take a 70 minute lunch break, was given an hour of travel time to drive 10 minutes, and was told to leave work at 3:30pm. I resigned prior to doing any data collection but confronted Census supervisors who assured me, “no one is going to be auditing that that level,” and “nobody is going to be questioning it except for you.” Another Census supervisor only said he’d adjust my pay after I gave him a letter recanting my hours.

Here’s a comment:

macnvettes · 18 hours ago
3 words come to mind: fraud, waste and abuse.

By itself, the free lunch on the taxpayer and the free hours (after the training session finished early) don’t seem like much, but done on a massive scale to over a half million workers, the waste really adds up. O’Keefe was concerned that, when he brought it up to his supervisors, no one seemed to care.

I’m a lawyer and I go to many “continuing legal education” live seminars. I can assure you, they don’t credit us for an hour’s lunch. When it’s an hour session, it’s an hour session. You can get disbarred for cheating.

FYI, I added a relevant phrase to my political glossary blog, “Close enough for government work.”

John Crudele added this third census story follow-up in Tuesday’s New York Post:

Census workers share their horror stories
Posted: 1:06 AM, June 1, 2010
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).
(…)
Here are some other workers’ stories.
(…)
* Everything you reported is absolutely true. I was fired three times and rehired. I earned more going to training classes than (working). Several classmates didn’t get any work after completing training.
(…)
* I am a Census worker. I, too, can confirm that they are checking and checking. I checked homes that have already been checked by the “enumerators.” The next phase is to go and re-check the checks that we already did twice..

Here’s a comment:

billstu
06/01/2010 2:09 PM
the census is a fraud … this weekend … Memorial day … census takers came to my campsite … thats right CAMPSITE … no address nothing … just looking for made up people … why they were there in the first place is beyond me … the is no legal address so how did they know to come there … this Obama guy promotes crime … he has to go

An interesting website is MyTwoCensus.com. This was posted yesterday at 4:40 PM:

Census Bureau’s official response to James O’Keefe scandal
The following statement comes to me from Stephen Buckner of the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office:

Statement on O’Keefe Taping of Census Bureau Staff

“Census Bureau policies and training are clear and require all employees to honestly submit accurate time records. Workers are instructed to report hours they work, which would include their time traveling to and from training. This is no different than the training session that Mr. O’Keefe attended in New Jersey, and during his previous employment with the Census Bureau last year. In his video, Mr. O’Keefe, an admitted criminal, does not disclose that he previously worked for the Census Bureau for nearly 2 months in 2009 without incident, allegation or complaint. That employment with us was well before his indictment and prior to his conviction of a federal crime last week. The Census Bureau obviously does not condone any falsifying of or tampering with timesheets by its employees. We are investigating the allegations in Mr. O’Keefe’s selectively edited video and will take appropriate administrative action with staff as warranted. ”

Background:

· Policies, procedures and training sessions clearly instruct employees to record the hours they work, which includes payment for the actual time traveling to and from training sessions. Mr. O’Keefe clearly did not include that, or the fact that part of his raw footage also shows trainers instructing new employees that they must record their mileage accurately.

· Mr. O’Keefe implies that the tapings occurred while he was still employed by the Census Bureau. In fact, most of his video taping took place after his Census Bureau employment ended. The Census Bureau’s stringent background check disqualifies individuals with pending federal charges or criminal offenses. After O’Keefe’s background check came back, he quit before any action could be taken.

· None of the other new hires or Census Bureau staff attending the training sessions that were taped were notified or granted permission to be filmed in Mr. O’Keefe’s video. Many states have laws against such surreptitious tapings.

· Mr. O’Keefe, like all census workers, took a confidentiality oath for life to protect census data — the Census Bureau cannot by law disclose any personal information about a household or respondent that could identify them. We take this very seriously at the Census Bureau.

“In his video, Mr. O’Keefe, an admitted criminal,…” Oh, Census Bureau! You’ve never hired someone with a misdemeanor before? That discredits everything he says?

“We are investigating the allegations in Mr. O’Keefe’s selectively edited video…” Selectively edited video! Nice dig, Census Bureau hack!

Here’s MyTwoCensus.com on John Crudele’s story:

NY Post’s John Crudele continues war on 2010 Census hiring/firing practices
Last week, we posted that John Crudele of the New York Post has been fighting the Census Bureau over allegations that the Bureau is inflating national hiring rates because workers have been hired and fired for different stages of the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau’s spokesperson Shelly Lowe, has explicitly denied these claims in the comments sections of Crudele’s page and MyTwoCensus.com. But Mr. Crudele feels that his fight is worthy and just, so he has taken it a step further today by posting nondescript stories of people who have contacted him because they have been hired/fired multiple times (full article HERE). MyTwoCensus, at this time, feels that the Census Bureau would not explicitly lie about how they report new hires/terminated workers to the federal government but here are some case studies anyway:…

Here’s a comment:

anonymous Says:
June 1st, 2010 at 7:14 am
Across the board.

There are more Americans in 2010 than there were in 2000 (291.4 million to about 309.4 million today). That’s not a reason for the cost of the Census to more than double. One could argue that computers are much cheaper now than in 2000–there should be some economies caused by new technologies.

In an economy such as this, to waste so much money so carelessly is just obscene.

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