THE 2010 CENSUS
The Decentennial Census is mandated by The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 2: "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner    as they shall by Law direct." Full disclosure: I was the Director of the 1990 Census for most of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, Florida .
CENSUS TO HAVE THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST FOR THE 2010 CENSUS
(paraphrased from memory)



In January of this year, The New York Times dutifully printed the talking points provided them by the Commerce Department, Bureau of the Census, breathlessly "reporting" that because of the large number of highly-educated people in this country who are currently unemployed, the Census Bureau (and presumably we) will be the beneficiaries when these people are hired as Enumerators and Office Workers for the 2010 Census.

That has a cheerful ring to it, no? Unfortunately, The Times is wrong. The dirty little secret concerning Census Bureau hiring practices is that the Bureau does not hire on the basis of the applicants' skills, education, or experience at all. 

APPLYING FOR A CENSUS JOB

The U. S. Census Bureau will hire about 300,000 people to prepare mailing lists, and collect and enter data. To apply for a job, you go to the local Census Office (for the office near you go to: http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/how-to-apply/ ), fill out an application, take a simple test, and wait for a call. If the Bureau decides to hire you, the FBI will run a background check on you. If you have a criminal background or (maybe) a bad credit record, you will not be hired. 

WILL YOU BE HIRED ?

Let's say you have a PhD in labor statistics; were the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company; know your city like the back of your hand; run a marathon twice a month; and have an outstanding personality. Will you be one of the best and brightest people hired as that New York Times article implies? Maybe - maybe not. Wait a minute ! ! 

While perusing a stack of applicants (Hands-on you see) when I managed the Census, and under the pressure to hire minorities, I came across an applicant from a male African-American, ex Air Force combat pilot, with an MBA. I told my recruiter (himself ex-military) to hire this upstanding citizen and he informed that he couldn't . Why not, I (his boss) inquired? 

Recruiter: Because the Census  bureaucrats won't let you choose someone on the basis of their qualifications, said he. 

Me:          Why not?

Recruiter:  Because they feel that if you use any kind of subjective criteria to hire someone, you are discriminating against every other applicant.

Me:   So? He's more qualified. Every employer in the world hires (the best and brightest?) more qualified people over some dummy.

Recruiter:  Huh uh, that doesn't fly here.

Me:           Well then, on what basis do we hire someone ?

Recruiter:   We go by the last four digits of the applicant's Social Security number, starting with the lowest first. 

(Note: if your number is e.g. 344-44-1004, you're on the Bureau's speed dial. If your number is e.g. 344-44-9498, professor, you're screwed)


BEFORE YOU SPEND HOURS GOING THROUGH THE APPLICATION/ TESTING PROCESS, AND WAITING FOR THE PHONE TO RING, I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW HOW THINGS WORK WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. 
Some government agencies, perforce, hire the best and brightest: CIA, Justice Department, NSA, Military Acadamies.

Most do not. Forty years ago the IRS had 12,000 employees and was run with incredible efficiency. Today, the IRS is an affirmative action program with  120,000 employees, most of whom can't find their asses with both hands.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

" Census Bureau to Hire 400,000 Workers "

The Census Bureau has announced that it would be hiring 400,000 workers to collect data on those American residents who did not return a Census Questionaire. I RAN THE 1990 CENSUS FOR MIAMI-DADE AND MONROE COUNTIES, FLORIDA. Those counties had the highest per-capita population of illegal ('undocumented' in PC Governmentalese) immigrants in the country at that time. Unless they have created 'make-work', there is NO WAY the Census Bureau needs 400,000 extra workers. 

WHAT'S GOING ON HERE ?
THESE PEOPLE WANT TO MANAGE YOUR HEALTHCARE

In 1990, I was the Manager for the District Office for the U.S. Census - Numero Uno - for the ethnically-important Dade-County, Florida. The Federal Government in all of its incompetence, micromanaged everything. If I tried to set goals or establish procedures, a call to the home office in Atlanta by one of the five department heads under me generally resulted in an admonishment for me to let the department heads do their job.

In fact I was told, contrary to Bureau press releases, to just sit in the corner office and do nothing. The head of my data section used to come in late every day, so I started the (bureau mandated) morning meeting without her. One day, when she came in exceptionally late, I (horrors) pointed to my watch. End of discussion you say? 

This is the Federal Government, here. Two days later, I got a call from the EEOC, headed by that genius, Clarence Thomas. "One of your employees has filed a discrimination complaint against you. Apparently you reprimanded your data supervisor in front of the other department heads, and she was embarassed."

"She's late every day, and all I did was point to my watch - I never said a word. Silly me, I think all of my employees should be on time. And how is that descrimination" I inquired? 

(I'm not making this up) "She claims that she had to take her kids to school every day, so you are descriminating against her because she is a woman " said she; to which I inquires if she was putting me on. The EEOC said it's silly, but asked me just to apologize. As I failed, here in the Florida Summer, to see Hell freezing over, I politely declined. My point? Here it comes:

The function of the District Office in each Census is to hire a lot of Census Takers (Enumerators) to go out with these large ledger books (one for each census tract) and get the names and mailing addresses of, well, every residence in the U.S. so that the Census Bureau can mail out a census questionnaire to every house, outhouse, doghouse, henhouse, who . . , well you get the point,  in America - in my district, from Key West to Naples to Miami, South of Eighth St.- about 400,000 places.

Each book containing about 3,000 addresses and a lot of confidential information, are kept under lock and key. As head honcho, a large part of my job, other than sitting in the corner office, was to speak to media outlets and make speeches before corporations and community organizations - the purpose of which was to persuade the public that acquiring their census information was vitally important, and that said information was to be kept in the strictest of confidence - to be shared with no one.

After we had enumerated all of our census tracts (earlier than any district in the U.S. save one), I called in the relevant Department Heads who assured me that all the books were in order, ready to be sent to Washington - the computerized data (allegedly) having already been sent. Being always the skeptic, I told them to lay out all of the books in order so I could personaly examine them, before I signed off on the job.

Of course they objected. One, Joe, my second in command, had run the 1980 Census; the other, was a (female) ex-marine captain, who drove a Harley. They objected, saying they knew how to do their job. I'm know you do, I said (not-condescendingly at all), but I want to see the books - have them laid out for me by tomorrow morning, Joe said ok, Harley grumbled.

Two hours later those two came into my office looking sheepish and confessed that three books were missing. The crew chief had been called up by the Mets and the books were in his trunk - and he was gone (about 12,000 confidential entries). I sent out our best enumerators and we re-did the three tracts. 

PS: I never saw Harley after I left the Bureau, but Joe has been my accountant for years. In 1993 he broke my finger in a basketball game, and in 2008 he was my Campaign Manager.