According to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office Oct. 7, approximately 785 employees with disqualifying criminal records could still end up working for the Census Bureau this year. Excerpts (below) show the exact wording of the agency’s frightening information about the people who go door to door conducting interviews and collecting information for the 2010 Census:
The Bureau’s efforts to fingerprint employees, which was required as part of a criminal background check, did not proceed smoothly, in part because of training issues. As a result, over 35,000 temporary census workers — over a fifth of the address canvassing workforce — were hired despite the fact that their fingerprints could not be processed and they were not fully screened for employment eligibility.
Update: (note comment below)
SRM: Where did you get the figure that you reported to Congress that 200 criminals could have been hired by the 2010 Census? And can you clarify what “could have been hired” means?
RG: It’s strictly based on the percentages. There were 162,000 people in total hired for address canvassing. 1,800 passed the name background check but their fingerprints revealed that they had criminal records. Of those, 750 were disqualified for census employment, because their criminal records were such that they were ineligible for census employment. All we did was project those same ratios for the 35,700 people who went through the name background check but whose fingerprints could not be read. So it’s strictly a projection. It’s unfortunate that the reporting of this was not always accurate or perhaps sensationalized it. We’re not saying that 200 criminals did work on the census, but we’re saying that based on that projection it’s possible.
Here is the WAPost article on the same subject.
Most of these use the Goldenkoff estimate of 200, looks like someone along the way took the 750 number out of context.
AH! Here it is:
From The Hill, who have apparently kept a copy of the correct file:
The Census Bureau typically takes fingerprints and performs background checks on workers hired to interact with the public. But a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that tens of thousands of workers were improperly fingerprinted by bureau employees.
The GAO fears that the name-checks performed on those employees were not sufficient without fingerprints.
And from the GAO Report (direct from the source!):
The Bureau’s efforts to fingerprint employees, which was required as part of a criminal background check, did not proceed smoothly, in part because of training issues. As a result, over 35,000 temporary census workers--over a fifth of the address canvassing workforce--were hired despite the fact that their fingerprints could not be processed and they were not fully screened for employment eligibility. The Bureau is refining instruction manuals and taking other steps to improve the fingerprinting process for future operations.
Not unusual for someone within government or a hired hand to point out problems, whereupon the agency testifies that they will take corrective action. Does "future operations" mean for the 2020 census? The problem here is followup, which in both big companies and big government, often fails to happen.
Thanks to the commenter for raising the issue.