My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Transcript from Census Bureau Press Conference

Here’s the transcript from Census Director Robert M. Groves’ press briefing on Wednesday. Unfortunately, my microphone (on Skype) cut out at the moment that I hoped to ask Dr. Groves a series of questions, which concerned why there are still failures of the paper-based operations control system and who (if anyone) is being held accountable for these errors. I forwarded these questions to Stephen Buckner at the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office, but have still not received a reply. Dr. Groves did briefly acknowledge errors in the PBOCS during his speech, but it is unlikely that any members of the mainstream media who don’t cover 2010 Census operations regularly would know about such a system and what those errors mean. Dr. Groves said, “We continue to struggle with the software system called the paper base operation control system, but we passed, just amazingly, a wonderful threshold last week where we printed out assignments for all these enumerators. It worked. We have assignments ready for 600,000 people who are ready to hit the streets on Saturday. So we’re proceeding. Not that it is the most loved piece of software in the Census Bureau, but it’s working well enough to get the census down so far.”

STEPHEN BUCKNER: Good afternoon. Welcome to the Census Bureau’s news conference on the mail participation rates. I’d like to welcome everyone here in the room, and also those joining us online and via telephone. If you take a few moments, we have some information in your press kits, and also available online, including all the charts that Dr. Groves will be going over today as he walks you through America’s accomplishment in the mail participation rate for the 2010 census as we start to go door to door later this weekend.

Following Dr. Groves’ remarks, we will have a brief Q&A session for the media. Please state your name and organization prior to your question. We’ll try to get to as many questions as we can during the news conference. And with that, I’ll turn it over to Dr. Groves. Thank you, Dr. Groves. (Applause)

DR. ROBERT GROVES: This is the first time I’ve heard applause. Well, welcome. I’m happy to be here and happy to see friendly faces in front of me. Today is a big day for us because we announce the end of the first half of the 2010 census. And we have good news, because we can thank the American public for really the first major achievement of the 2010 census, I think. So first, I need to say why are we honoring the American public in this way, and why is this a notable achievement? You need to know something about levels of participation in surveys in this country, and in fact in the western world over the past few decades to understand how wonderful what happened really is.

For the last 20 years, response rates, the level of participation of the public in sample surveys, in all sectors, the commercial sector, the government sector and the academic sector, have been falling. In fact, in the Census Bureau’s own survey, take the American Community Survey, this very large thing that we do continuously, we’ve lost 5 percentage points from the 2000 experience to now. So when I took this job, I really expected that any achievement close to the 2000 rate was beyond each. In fact, I urge you, urge the journalists here, to call up your favorite survey researcher and ask them one question: could you achieve the response rate today that you received ten years ago on the same survey? And see what they say.

So we had low expectations on getting close to where we were in 2000. And where were we on 2000? The combined short form and long form participation rate in 2000 was 69 percent at the time we cut off for the non-response follow-up. So if we believe those lower rates, we would have expected something lower than that. The short form only rate, out of the 2000, the portion of the households that got the short form, their participation rate was about 72 percent. We chose that as a stretch goal. We were preparing for response rates between 65 and 72 percent in our simulations. Well, what happened was the American public hit that stretch goal, and it was a wonderful display, we think, of civic participation. And I can tell you, the folks at the Census Bureau are dancing down the hallways.

There are a lot of neat things about that; 28 states met or exceeded their 2000 rate, that’s cool. Some of these are pretty large states; Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. In addition, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico exceeded their 2000 rate. There are 11 other states within 1 percentage point of their 200 rate. North Carolina and South Carolina are kind of the poster children of 2010. They exceeded their rate in 2000 by 8 percentage points, just off the charts, so as they say these days, need a special shout out, I think. And there are thousands of jurisdictions around the country that have exceeded their 2000 rate.

Let me just give you a sense of this. In your press kit, I think you have notes that seven of the ten most populous counties equaled or surpassed their 2000 rates. Eight of the ten most populous cities did that, likewise. So once again, this is, I think, a congratulations due to the American public for their act of civic participation. And we are grateful and happy to report that.

It might be good to ask the question of why, why was that rate achieved? And the first thing that I want to point out are some hard data we have. The first unambiguous result in the why, I think, has to do with the replacement form. So if you look at this chart, let me help you read this chart. And for those of you on the phone, this is a chart that’s labeled 2010 average mail back participation rates for census tracks by assignment of 2010 replacement form. So it’s a busy graph, I’ll help you read it.

The X axis here is a day, sort of the life cycle of the mail out/mail back process. The Y axis is the participation rate. So the first thing you’ll see is that all of the lines rise as you go from left to right as the mail back rate built over days. Now, there are a lot of different lines here. The solid lines are from the 2010 data. The dashed, or dotted, lines are from 2000. There are three groups of lines color coded. The red line are those tracks that got replacement forms in a blanket fashion. If you lived in that track, whether you returned the form or not, you got a replacement form. The green line are tracks that were targeted. If you yourself did not return a form, you got a replacement form. If your neighbor did, they did not. And then finally, the blue line are the tracks where no replacement form was given.

Look at the dashed lines first. We targeted for blanket treatment the toughest tracks. They had low response rates in 2000. That’s the lowest line, the red dashed line, is low. And the green line were the targeted tracks. They had sort of medium participation rates. But you can see, both of those are pretty far below the blue. So we targeted the replacement form to those areas that tended in 2000 to have low participation rates.

What happened? Well, this replacement form worked. It’s just unambiguous in the data. Let your eyes focus on the solid red line. Look how after the blanket replacement mailing was complete around the 3rd of April, it starts pumping up. It just gets higher than the dashed line and stays higher. And then notice how the green line, solid green line, starts getting higher after the target replacement form. In fact, I can tell you, the green line is still pumping out cases as w speak. This is a good thing for the 2010 census because now let your eye go to the dashed lines and just look at the difference in height between the blue dashed line and the red dashed line. That variability in participation rate is not good for a census. We’d like everybody to have the same participation rate. We squeezed together those lines to this replacement form.

So the first question, why did we get a good participation rate, is the replacement form worked, and it worked in a wonderful way to reduce the variability in response rates. There’s another reason, and we have some data on this but it’s not as hard as these data; we think the advertising and the partnership worked. I think in prior discussions we’ve had, we showed you how the awareness of the census rose dramatically as the advertising and partnership campaigns evolved. That seems unambiguous, that that was a good reason why.

And then there are other things that have to do with judgments. I just told you that the participation rate in 2000 for the combined short and long form was 69 percent. And for the short form only was 72 percent. We’re pretty sure the short form was a great idea based on that comparison. We don’t have an empirical comparison of the long and short form in this census, but one clear, I’d be willing to make this speculation, one clear answer to the question why a high rate of participation rate, or why a high rate of participation, is that the short form reduced the burden on the American public and they cooperated at higher rates.

We are going to do tons of other analysis over the coming weeks to figure out other answers to the question why did this seem to work. That’s our job in order to prepare for the 2010 census. But those are the early findings on the reasons for success.

I want to turn to another issue, and that is the patterns of response rate. You can see on the map that we showed earlier that there’s variability in the response. If you just look at the colors, the colors are related to different response rates. Red is really good, blue is bad, and you can see how the colors vary. We’ve been publishing this map every day on the web, a lot of you have been watching it. You start looking at a map like that and you begin to make up hypotheses about geography as the cause of the participation rate. We’re pretty sure that’s a misinterpretation of this. And I want to give you a sense of the patterns of response.

You know that for several decades, the Census Bureau has tracked differential under counts. When the whole census is finished, differential under counts by race, ethnicity and age, and the patterns are very clear over decade after decade, that younger people, that minority groups, tend to be disproportionately missed in the census. I can tell you day by day, we were watching those differences on participation rates in this first half of the census to see if we were seeing those patterns.

The classic patterns emerge in 2010, they’re there. But the biggest drivers in the participation rate are not race and ethnicity in the 2010 census, but a variety of other indicators. And I wanted to give you a sense of what those look like. A lot of them are indicators of the socioeconomic status of the area. So let me describe what this is. This breaks the census tracks. There are about 65,000 census tracks in the country, into four groups of equal size by the rate of vacancy in the area. What proportion of the houses were vacant based on American community survey data over the past three years? So the X axis here separates all of the census tracks into four groups, from low vacancy rate to high vacancy rate.

The Y axis here is the participation rate. The pattern is beautifully monatomic, as they say, in the statistics business. It goes down with each added quartile from 76 percent way down to 64 percent. Tracks that have high vacancy rates tended to have low participation rates. And it’s a pretty strong effect.

Let me show you the next one. This does a similar sort of thing. It breaks the tracks into four groups by their level of percentage of multi-unit structures. And on the X axis, you see what those rates are. Similar sort of finding; pretty strong effects from 77 percent participation rate down to 64 percent. Tracks that have a lot of multi-unit structures or mobile homes versus those that have single family structures had lower participation rates.

Let’s look at the next one. Renter occupied housing units, same sort of divisions on the X axis, participation rate on the Y axis, moving from 77 to 64. Census tracks, neighborhoods with a lot of rental units had lower participation rates. Let’s look at the next one. Education. We can identify the proportion of people on the tracks with less than a high school degree, same sort to pattern. Tracks that have a lot of people with low education tend to have lower participation rates. And is that the final one? One more, poverty. The American community survey allows us to estimate the proportion of households under poverty threshold; 77 to 64, same thing.

Now in your press kit are other graphs that look at ethnicity and race. You’ll look at those and see smaller effects across those groups than you see across the socioeconomic indicators. Was this present in prior censuses? I suspect it was. Did we have the right data to do this sort of analysis? Now, this is a wonderful benefit of the American community survey that we can track in almost real time other indicators. These are the strongest drivers to participation rate, not the race, ethnicity indicators. But they’re pretty powerful drivers, as you see.

So we can say that tracks that have high rental units, low education, low income, are disproportionately where our non-response follow-up workload is. Those are the neighborhoods that we will be visiting disproportionately in the coming weeks.

I want to say just a bit about our current operations and then open it up for questions. We are proceeding on all sorts of operations now. I’m happy to report that every operation we’ve done since addressing canvassing in summer of 2009 are on time and on budget. Those are going well. We continue to struggle with the software system called the paper base operation control system, but we passed, just amazingly, a wonderful threshold last week where we printed out assignments for all these enumerators. It worked. We have assignments ready for 600,000 people who are ready to hit the streets on Saturday. So we’re proceeding. Not that it is the most loved piece of software in the Census Bureau, but it’s working well enough to get the census down so far.

I want to remind everyone that we have another press conference on Monday. And this is really a press conference to look forward to the non-response follow-up process. It’s a gigantic effort. It’s a complicated effort. We want to make sure you have all the facts that we do about how it’s going. We’ll talk about that. It’s important to note that although we report this mail back rate as if we’ve reached a final stage, this is really the end of the first half and that the census is not over. We will have a disposition on 100 percent of the units that we have on our list, those who didn’t get forms will be visited. Those who got forms and didn’t mail them out will be visited. We will collect information on everyone before we’re through, and that’s the second half that we’re now beginning. So I want to stop at this point and entertain questions.

CAROL MORELLO: Carol Morello with the Washington Post. Are you able to ask me–

DR. GROVES: I was supposed to say that you should wait for the mic. I’ve been instructed to do that.

CAROL MORELLO: Are you able to estimate now what the final cost of the 2010 census will be? And do you anticipate being able to return money to the Treasury, as they were able to in 2000?

DR. GROVES: Yes, two questions. The first one, we cannot at this point estimate the total cost. We have reduced the bounds of uncertainty. We’re actually recalculating things right now. We’re not ready to know what those bounds are. A lot of uncertainty remains. We don’t know a big question, the answer to a big question: how will the American public that either didn’t receive a form or didn’t return their form react when we knock on their door? So all of our efforts now are to get the message out. When someone knocks on your door, answer it and answer the questions. But we don’t know how that’s going to work. So we can now for the first time reduce some of the bounds of uncertainty on the costs, and we don’t have the numbers yet. But the full uncertainties haven’t been experienced. So we won’t know that until non-response follow-up with some– and some follow-up operations are over. You asked a second one?

CAROL MORELLO: Do you think you’ll be able to return money?

DR. GROVES: At this point, we do. But all of this depends on events that have to unfold in the future.

MR. BUCKNER: So obviously we’ve entered the Q&A here. We’re going to go to the phone and see if we have any questions, then we’ll come back into the room to see if we have any.

OPERATOR: The first question will come from Stephen Robert Morris from Stephen, your line is open.

STEPHEN ROBERT MORRIS: Stephen Robert Morris from [cutting out].

DR. GROVES: Robert, I think you’re on Skype again, aren’t you? And we have trouble hearing. You’re going in and out pretty frequently. Try it again.

MR. BUCKNER: All right, operator, let’s go to the next question. Stephen, we’ll try to get to your question. If you can email it in, we’ll try to answer it during the news conference. Any other questions on the phone before we come back in the room? Okay, great. Any additional questions here in the room? It was a thorough presentation. All right, so let’s wait and see. I know we have several people on the line. Let’s see if we can cue up a question, and then we’ll continue.

OPERATOR: From Kristin Crowley from WLUK.

KRISTIN CROWLEY: You’re saying the second phase is very important, and here in the State of Wisconsin, we are at the top of the list for– we’re turning back these forms. How imperative is it that Wisconsin cooperate well with the second phase of this? How could that affect the state rankings if door to door isn’t very successful?

DR. GROVES: Could you repeat the last part of that question? I got the first part, I think. How important is it what?

KRISTIN CROWLEY:  How important is it that the second phase with Wisconsin go well so that it doesn’t affect our standings right now as being one of the top states in the country for returning forms?

DR. GROVES: Okay, first of all, we should all congratulate Wisconsin. This was incredible. In fact, if you drill into the Wisconsin state, look at counties and cities, there are cities that have rates of return that are just unbelievably high. So congratulations, Wisconsin, first of all. The second step is, in a way, similar for every state and locale. We will bring whatever the rate is up to 100 percent. We will do it quickly if we don’t have many more cases to measure. We will do it more slowly if there’s a big workload. Wisconsin, as well as all other states, the message is the same. For those of you who haven’t been counted in the 2010 census, this is your moment. And it’s the easiest moment you have. When someone knocks on your door, we ask that you open the door and answer the same questions that have been on the census form that may be sitting in your house. Should only take ten minutes.

And then you’re a full member of the 2010 census. And everybody in Wisconsin who hasn’t returned the form, and those who haven’t gotten it that we’ll call on, need to know that.

MR. BUCKNER: Great. We’ll go back into the room if you can hold on the phone.

__:  So more or less, how many households did not return the form? How many millions?

DR. GROVES: Another way to do it is what’s our full workload? It actually is a little more than that. And we’re estimating that to be between sort of 46 and 49 million, 48 million is a common number to give. And that will be the workload that we’ll begin to start calling on Saturday.

MR. BUCKNER: Great. Any questions on the telephone?

OPERATOR: The next question is from Sam Roberts from the New York Times.

SAM ROBERTS: Hi. I just had a couple of quick questions. I just want to confirm that the participation rate was 72 percent and do we know how many enumerators are actually going to be going out into the field starting Saturday?

DR. GROVES: The final participation rate that we’re announcing today is 72 percent. We’re still getting cases in. It’s going up more slowly. Those of you who are real careful watchers noted that we reported 72 percent on Friday. That was a rounded up 71 point something, I’ve now forgotten that. We’re getting about .2 to .3 percentage points a day, starting to gradually tail off. So 72 is the rate we’re announcing today. And Sam, we’ll have final rates on all of these things as time goes on. So the historical rate will be slightly different, but that’s the rate as of today. And then I’ve gotten your second question?

SAM ROBERTS: How many people going into the field beginning Saturday?

DR. GROVES: There’ll be about 600,000 folks that will hit the field. They are in the middle of training. Today is Wednesday, they started training yesterday. And they will do a practice interview, and then Saturday they will hit the streets, as they say.

SAM ROBERTS: Thank you.

MR. BUCKNER: Great. We’ll go ahead and stay on the phone for telephone questions.

OPERATOR: The next question will come from Georgina East with the Sun-Sentinel Newspaper.

GEORGINA EAST: Hi, thank you for taking my call. I wanted to know, were there any major surprises in Florida? I know you said they met the rate of expectation. But compared to 2000, were there any surprises?

DR. GROVES: You know, the first surprise disappeared. We were watching these things day by day, and the first few days, Florida was dragging. And then it popped up and it stayed at a rate that made sense. So we were worried at first. And we, in retrospect I think, think of this as kind of a mail stream issue where they were going to the processing center, and so on. But no major surprises come to my mind for Florida.

MR. BUCKNER: Great. Additional questions on the telephone, seeing none here in the room.

OPERATOR: We have a question on the phone from Kara Kenney with WRTV.

KARA KENNEY: All right, can you guys hear me now?


KARA KENNEY: Okay, fantastic. Indianapolis was the largest city that did not get any local advertising dollars from the census. But it performed better than most cities. What does that say to you, and does the census have any plans to reexamine how those advertising dollars were spent?

DR. GROVES: Oh, I can tell you, we will examine and reexamine and reexamine the advertising decisions, that’s the kind of stuff we do. So I can’t wait to look at the data we have. We have data by locales, by day of advertising spent, audience size and so on. And if we analyze that stuff wisely, we can diagnose all of these decisions in really fine fashion empirically. But I’d be hesitant to speculate on why your initial question, why we didn’t do a lot of local advertising, yet it exceeded other ones.

KARA KENNEY: Okay. And then my only other question is some may say the census budget has grown $10 billion in ten years. But on a national average, the numbers are about the same as they were in 2000?

DR. GROVES: That’s right. And indeed, I think all of us will encounter that reaction. And it’s completely rational until you now something. And as soon as you know that cooperation rates have been falling dramatically on sample surveys throughout the decade, as soon as you know that, then you realize that the challenge in front of the 2010 census, and it could indeed be true for 2020, too, unless these social trends reverse themselves, the challenge is much more difficult than it was in 2000. And it’s in that context that when you look at the 72 and say, “Wow, unbelievable.” And again, I recommend that– call somebody at the Indiana Survey Research Center in Bloomington and ask them whether they could get a response rate that they got ten years ago, see what they say.

KARA KENNEY: Thank you so much.

MR. BUCKNER: Thank you. Additional first questions on the telephone?

OPERATOR: This question is from Doug Moore with St. Louis Post Dispatch.

DOUG MOORE: I know that the 600,000 folks who are going to go out on Saturday, at least begin the process, and there will be several doors they’re going to have to go back. I understand that number could be as high as six visits. After those six visits, what happens next? Do you go to the neighbors to try to find out who’s living there? What information are you going to use? You said there will be 100 percent participation in this. But if you come to my door six times and I’m not there, or refuse to answer, how are you going to find out that information?

DR. GROVES: Yeah, great question. First of all, let me re-invite you to the press conference on Monday where we’ll take a deep dive into these kinds of questions so that you’re fully informed. But let me answer your question. We will disproportionately– Our interviewers are trained to call at times where disproportionately people are at home. This means this is heavily evening and weekend work. So they attempt to reach out to folks when they’re more likely to be home, number one.

Number two, they scatter their calls over days of the week and weeks of the month in order to maximize the chance that we contact people. And then you are absolutely right. We will do this six times over multiple days, multiple weeks. And at that point, as a very last resort, rather than assuming that that is a vacant home, we will seek any information we can. And that’s often from neighbors or building managers and the question that’s most often asked is, “How many people live in that unit? Is that unit occupied, and how many people live there?” And it’s through that that we get the basic information that feeds into the count, the basic count and the location.

MR. BUCKNER: On the point of the non-response follow-up in the operational press briefing on Monday, also for any broadcasters on the line, we will be putting out a broadcast package on Thursday and Friday for use over the weekend as census takers begin going door to door. With that, we’ll take a question here in the room. Name and organization, please?

SANTIO TAURA: Santio Taura from Norty Mix (?). Can you comment on the participation rates in Arizona and also the impact of the new law that was approved last week?

DR. GROVES: Yeah, Arizona, like many states, you can see Arizona on this map, Arizona is on the low end of the states. But there’s big variation within Arizona. So, like every state of the union, you can find parts of Arizona that’s responding at very high rates and other parts that’s not. But overall, Arizona is on the low end. There are parts of Arizona that exceeded their 2000 rate, I should note, so there’s a lot of variability. And that’s actually why we went through these charts, I think, about diagnosing the variability.

And you also mentioned the Arizona law that’s been recently passed. I think the important thing to know about that from the Census Bureau perspective is that our job is to count everybody. And we count the country we’re given, sort. We have done censuses when there are wars going on, when there are deep, deep depressions going on, when there are hurricanes and volcanoes, everything happens out of our control. We are prepared to get the message out that our job is to count everyone, that it’s a safe thing to do. Because of our confidentiality laws, no one need fear participating in the census. We’re different than enforcement agencies, and we protect the data from use by enforcement agencies. That is the message that we’ve been delivering and we are redoubling that message in non-response follow-up.

MR. BUCKNER: Questions on the telephone?

OPERATOR: The next question will come from Jeff Kunerth with Orlando Sentinel.

JEFF KUNERTH: You mentioned the vacancy rates and I wanted to ask whether the recession and the housing crisis, foreclosures, et cetera, has impacted the census and whether it will ultimately affect the count, the population count? If we have empty houses now, but we might have those houses filled in a couple of years, we’re going to suffer for that?

DR. GROVES: First of all, let me give you kind of a geeky answer to this. So we gave you participation rates, and I just showed you that those rates are lower in areas with big vacancy rates. Now, so the first thing is what is a participation rate? Well, it’s a ratio. In the numerator, all the forms returned from that census track. And then in the denominator, all of the mailed out minus the ones that were un-mailable.

Okay, so let’s think about a neighborhood with a lot of vacants. If you look at a place like New Orleans and Detroit and Flint where there are a lot of vacant houses, we have low participation rates, but part of it may be due to the fact that we have mailed census forms sitting in the mail boxes of a vacant unit, and we don’t know that. They were successfully delivered. We didn’t remove them out of the denominator. So the first thing, the geeky kind of answer, is be careful of the participation rates and vacancy rates because you can misinterpret them.

Then the second point is the one that you really focused on, I think. The neighborhoods that had disproportionate foreclosures are neighborhoods under stress for other reasons. Those neighborhoods have a lot of doubled up units, too. So the occupied housing units are units that tend to have lower participation rates, too. We would speculate, we can’t know this right now.

We are attempting to measure those as accurately as possible about their April 1 status. This is the challenge of non-response follow-up. We actually want to fix the April 1 status of these households and that’s what we’ll do. It’s a harder job, we know, in areas of vacancies. Our interviewers are going to go to a lot of vacant houses and I can tell you, you should try this on your own. Determining whether a house is vacant is not a simple thing. They’ll have to make multiple calls to make absolutely sure no one’s living there so we don’t miss anyone.

MR. BUCKNER: Great. We’ll stay on the telephone for just a couple of more questions.

OPERATOR: The next question will come from Megan Eckstein from Frederick News Post.

MEGAN ECKSTEIN: Hi, thanks for taking my question. During the mail back process, we heard from some of the readers that they chose not to mail back their forms, I guess, out of some protest to the government. So for cases like that when people are not willing to participate, how do you move forward? And I guess are there any parts of the country where you see that being a bigger problem than others?

DR. GROVES: Yeah, this was a speculation that was pretty common about a month ago, I think. And it was good work, we thought, by the City University of New York that examined relationships between the then-participation rates and political behavior and didn’t see much of an effect. We didn’t have those data, but we were looking at other data. We don’t see any empirical evidence of a protest movement that might be related to those kinds of feelings.

Your question, though, is broader, I think, and that is for those who didn’t return the form willfully, they thought about it and they decided they didn’t want to do this, we have training of our interviewers going on right now that attempts to address that. And interviewers performing those training guidelines will point out the role of the census, the importance of the census, the ease of the census, the fact that this can be done right on the doorstep of a person, that they could fulfill their civic obligation that is mandatory under law quite easily. And that is the line of argument that they’ll give. I think we found in prior censuses that in the vast majority of cases, in the non-response population, that’s completely successful.

The earlier question about how much the non-response follow-up is going to cost, or the whole cost of the census is partly uncertain because we don’t know fully that answer. What’s going to happen in 2010 when we knock on the doors of people who didn’t respond? We will see over the coming weeks.

MR. BUCKNER: Okay, we have time for two more questions. Any questions on the telephone at this point?

OPERATOR: Yes, the next question will come from Gary Rothstein from Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

GARY ROTHSTEIN: Yes, like many media I think we heard from people throughout the process that they did not receive forms, even though they live in traditional households and did not meet any of the criteria you had outlined before for homes that would not be receiving forms. So there may be some glitches. I’m wondering if you had a number or a percentage on households that you estimate did not receive forms? And if I might ask a logistical media question, I’ve been told in my region, I would not have access to the training sessions for your census enumerators, even though ten years ago I was able to attend those. So, is that a Bob Groves policy or just something here in the region or something that can be overturned so we can interview some of the enumerators before they go out and do their work?

DR. GROVES: I’ll let you address the second one, since–

MR. BUCKNER: All right, so let me address the training question. So we are working with our regional office right now. The most important part of this is to get our census takers trained and out in the field, confident that they are able to do their jobs. Please go ahead and give us a call in the Public Information Office and we will work with you the best we can to coordinate with the regional directors in our 12 regional offices to see if we can make that available to you.

The big priority here is that during these trainings, a lot of information is protected under Title XIII, or confidentiality laws, personally identifiable information. So there is some nuances to try and get you into those trainings so that we get you in during the time period where none of that information is visible, just to make sure we protect that information.

So again, go ahead and give us a call back at the Public Information Office: 301-763-3691 and we’ll start working with the regional offices and see if we can’t work something out with you. I’ll turn it over to Dr. Groves for the next question.

DR. GROVES: I think the first question was about folks who didn’t receive forms. To our delight, many of those people have called the questionnaire assistance line, identified themselves as not getting a form, either did the interview on the phone or requested a form. And there are these Be Counted sites that were effective in getting forms in people’s hands. We’re going to visit and make sure we’ve counted all those things properly in later operations. And that’s how we’re handling this issue of non-receipt.

Now, a lot of folks who didn’t get forms, we knew that they didn’t get forms and some of the confusion was, I think, because our communication wasn’t micro targeted enough that everybody knew that. So all our folks with post office box deliveries are going to get visited in non-response follow-up. That’s one of the group of houses of folks who didn’t get forms that will get visits.

MR. BUCKNER: Great. I think we have the last question on the telephone?

OPERATOR: The next question will come from Ken McCall with Dayton Daily News.

KEN MCCALL: Hi, thanks for taking my question. The only thing I need to know, really, then is the participation rate data, will that be– has that been updated now on the web? Is that downloadable, the final sort of– today’s final data?

DR. GROVES: I’m told by our crack staff that if you’re online right now and you’re looking at the Take Ten participation map, that has the latest, and indeed, the final data that we’re going to publish. And it should be accurate up to a few hours ago on the data we have.

MR. BUCKNER: Okay, great. I’d like to thank everybody for joining us today online as well as here in the room. Please keep in mind we do have a news conference on Monday to talk about the non-response door to door follow-up operation where we’re sending about 635,000 workers to start getting those people counted that haven’t mailed back their forms. So please join us then. We’ll be sending out a press release on that with details about the information. And as always, if you have additional questions, please reach out to us in our Public Information Office at the Census Bureau. Thank you, and good afternoon.


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6 Responses to “Transcript from Census Bureau Press Conference”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    NRFU Crew Leader told workers that they would have 1 or 2 weeks of work for the No Response Follow Up starting tomorrow. During training workers were told to expect work until August, 2010.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    NRFU Crew Leader said 1 to 2 weeks – 25 to 30 hours mazimum.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Have you resolved your Skype issues?

  4. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Yes, issues resolved. Unfortunately I was on the road at the time of the call and my connection was unstable. For Monday’s press conference, I’ll make sure I’m perfect.


  5. GS-X Says:

    This press conference mainly about neutralizing the press. The part where Groves tries to deny an undercount of blacks, Latinos, and indigenous peoples is just plain sleazy.

    When asked how many millions of households did not return their census form, Groves should have known down to the ones place. The Census Bureau has computers you know.

    When responding to Gary Rothstein of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, I think Groves made a factual error.
    If a household did not get a census form, they could not simply call Telephone Questionnaire Assistance (TQA) and ask for a form to be mailed to them. They could not even give their census answers over the phone to TQA until was it April 12th. As reported on the web, you could not get a form from TQA mailed you unless you already had a form with a bar code on it.

  6. R Roberts Says:

    One issue not being considered or asked about re: total cost of Census is all of the outstanding EEO, Wrongful Termination, Discrimination Lawsuits that are underway and will take years to resolve.

    Someone in Groves Office needs to be appointment to chair this area of total mismanagement on a national level.