An Open Letter to the Department of Commerce

Dear Todd Zinser, Inspector General and Ronald Prevost, Assistant Inspector General:
I hope this letter finds you well and now that the decennial census has concluded you may concentrate your efforts elsewhere in the Commerce Department. I am writing this letter because I am one of the half million temporary census employees who lost their job last year and sadly I am still unemployed.
 
As an employee I experienced almost every aspect of the decennial census from beginning to end. My coworkers would say my strengths include: the ability to function under extreme pressure, superb problem solving skills, the ability to lead teams and motivate people, and great interpersonal and technical skills. However I can not substantiate these intangibles because you never met or worked with me.
 
What is tangible is on several occasions I was able to point out flaws in the modeling process the bureau used to predict workloads and procedural loopholes well in advance. For example:
 
In the spring of 2009 I created my own workload analysis and correctly predicted address canvassing would last less than the eight weeks scheduled with hand held computers and that it was unnecessary to train the additional replacement staff because there would be no work. During the next major field operation group quarters validation (fall 2009) I created an analysis and predicted that the operation would last under a week. 2.
I showed this analysis to my then supervisor and he said that I had not taken a representative sample. After revising my findings he said that my analysis was definitely not correct because the headquarters staff are professional statisticians and analysts with PhDs and higher degrees. I was correct and the potential savings paid for my entire annual salary for two years in just five hours of work on a Saturday.
 
I pointed out major flaws including the following:
* group quarters workload was overestimated and overstaffed and that office staff would run out of label processing sheets
* front loading in many instances was not necessary because of the high unemployment rate and retention of staff due to the recession.
* the majority of nonresponse follow up operation in some local census offices was going to last approximately three weeks.
* the non response follow up procedures never stated the time lapse between the three required visits before going to a proxy and some enumerators would attempt to conduct the visits all in a compressed time frame to meet production goals resulting in a higher proxy rate than expected.
* the procedures also never stated how to fill out a notice of visit properly or how to implement a system for the office to contact enumerators that a telephone interview was already completed and that they should not revisit or find a proxy for the household.
* strict production deadlines and intimidation would force census staff to resort to data falsification such as the Brooklyn incident.
 
Now that the decennial census is winding down and preparations for the 2020 are underway I look back and say the Census needs to:
* more thorough testing of operational procedures with a slightly staggered operational schedule so that local census offices can evaluate the field and office procedures before they are used. The dress rehearsal serves that purpose but having it a few years before while necessary does not prepare for the market conditions during the actual decennial.
* hire a team of professional proofreaders to ensure procedural manuals do not have typographical errors and errata
* have a better idea of their software requirements and set a cap on government contracts instead of paying per change.
 
In addition to these suggestions I am asking for a job. I realized that with the nation’s deficit at an all time high and vacancies being cancelled that this may not be possible. (asking for a performance linked compensation plan may definitely be out of the question) What I propose is I come to your office with a blank contract and you can simply write in my salary based on what you think I am worth. I simply want to be get back to work, prove myself and gain the respect of our top government leaders.
 
Since you are a high level government employee reading this now, I am asking you to give serious consideration to what I am asking.
I think the Commerce Department would be doing itself a great disfavor if it didn’t hire me. The 2010 Census cost taxpayers over 13 billion dollars and I truly believe I can save the Census at least one billion dollars. I have former federal employees who would be willing to substantiate these claims.  
If the 2020 Census dreams of truly going digital, and avoiding technology problems (such as the Harris handheld computers and PBOCS) and the money that was wasted away, you or Uncle Sam should seriously consider hiring me. I will allow you some time to digest this email. If you do not respond I will assume you are not interested.
 
Sincerely,
 
A Former 2010 Census Employee
 
 
2. our staffing authorization was for 200 field staff to work for four weeks. I predicted that based on my analysis to work four weeks we needed only 50 staff. If the additional 150 staff weren’t trained for one week each local census office could of saved itself about $100,000 dollars.
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