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.

Former Census Bureau statistician denounces Census Bureau Director’s words as misleading to the public

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves keeps a blog on the Census Bureau’s web site. Adeline J. Wilcox, a former Census Bureau employee has informed MyTwoCensus of misleading statements on Dr. Groves’ May 14, 2010 post about data collection. Ms. Wilcox states the following about this post headed “Computer-Assisted Data Collection”:

The survey methodology term “Computer-Assisted Data Collection”describes the use of laptops or mobile devices to collect data from survey respondents. It also describes self-administered online surveys and telephone surveys in which the telephone interviewer reads the script from a computer monitor and enters the responses into the computer. “Computer-Assisted Data Collection” means NO PAPER.

The 2010 Census is not using “Computer-Assisted Data Collection” for NonResponse FollowUp (NRFU).  The 2010 Census NRFU operation is paper-based.

Groves wrote:

“Several times in my career, I have experienced first-uses of complicated survey data collection systems. The first use is rarely a pretty affair, mainly because of the difficulty of designing testing regimens reflecting all the combinations of steps that occur in real production with thousands of diverse users.”

This is at best misleading.  His statement is relevant to “Computer-Assisted Data Collection” but has no relevance to the troubled 2010 Census paper-based NRFU operation and the Paper Based Operations Control System known as PBOCS.

Tags: , Data, , , , Robert M. Groves

17 Responses to “Former Census Bureau statistician denounces Census Bureau Director’s words as misleading to the public”

  1. Hike Says:

    More smoke and mirrors from Groves and thanks for this blog calling him out on it. Very true – his statements have no relevance to PBOCS which is a POS. The taxpayers such as myself have been bilked out of a BILLION dollars at a time when regular citizens are struggling to make ends meet.

  2. AnonLCOM Says:

    true dat.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I agree with Hike. Thank you, My Two Census.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    On a different note, the public reads newspapers and watches the news. I have individuals tell me their name is: Micky Mouse, Donald Duck, famous people, etc. They are upset about race questions. Some people tell me they are: Star Trek, from a different planet, etc. I just write down EXACTLY what they tell me.

  5. GS-X Says:


    When people tell you their name is Donald Duck, it is your job to write it down.
    President Obama, Congress, Secretary Locke, Bob Groves, Steve Jost and other
    higherups are responsible for communicating
    with residents who have issues with their duties as residents of the United States.

    That people are upset about the race question is one of the most serious issues our country faces.

  6. white,english&german Says:

    I am working in an area with a large hispanic population.

    I ask if they are of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. I then ask them to select a race, reading the script verbatim, that, for this census Hispanic is not considered a race.

    My answers are all over the place. Nobody understands how to answer this question. Aztec. Indian. Mexican. Latin American. Puerto Rican. And, several have insisted their race IS Hispanic. One woman even told me her son was an American when answering the Race question. I write down whatever they tell me, and thank them, I am not there to judge them.

    But the data–I get that they want to know the breakdown of Hispanic populations but the race thing… this is going to screw up all the race data for sure.

  7. censusless in seattle Says:

    Dear W, E, G: I agree with you. I just write down EXACTLY what the respondant tells me. Peace of mind.

  8. GS-X Says:

    Yay, white,english&german for reporting your experience from the field. This problem has been going on for years in thousands and by now probably millions of interviews. Counting Latinos, Haitians, Arab-Americans,
    and thousands more who cannot find their race on the census form, we can say that millions agree that the census race question is screwed up. The government wants the race data screwed up. They like it that way.

  9. Crew Leader Says:

    I find the race question quite interesting. My district is heavily Hispanic. I would guess & say that 80% insist thier race is Hispanic. They are proud of it & don’t want to be considered white or any other. Most of the Guatemalans insist thier race is Mayan. Most Mexicans chose white. Quite often, offspring of Hispanic parents, born in the USA, are no longer Hispanic but, rather, American.

    This seems to point out that race is still a big question…even within the same cultural background.

    I think we have come a long way on the race question & I’m grateful for it. It wasn’t very long ago that the choices were white, black, yellow & red.

  10. GS-X Says:

    Crew Leader,
    For those who insist they are Mayan, are you checking Some Other Race and writing in Mayan?

  11. CLA Dave Says:

    If they say something not on the list twice, I write it down, whatever it is.
    I’m hoping someone insists on Martian. :)

  12. white, eng, ger Says:

    More frustrated hispanic/latinos today…why do they not have a selection on the race question? And middle-eastern, same thing. One woman was Honduran and her husband Middle-eastern. No selection for either. I wrote it in, but then they had a kid and there is no room to write both of those as “other” races.

    Anybody have a clue about this. I appreciate that the Hispanic people have their own column now but they are still expected to answer question 6.

  13. GS-X Says:

    I count 19 little boxes available for Some Other Race on the questionnaire mailed to households.


    is 19 characters long.

    Let Census Bureau Headquarters take it from there.
    You know they don’t know 21st century US demography.
    If anybody planned the 2010 Census, your problem would have been anticipated and solved.

  14. anonymous Says:

    CLA DAVE, I have had Star Trek (also Trekkie) – I wrote it down on Race: Other (Trekkie). :)

  15. anonymous Says:

    GS-X, oh yes, I too had an individual’s lineage two lines long. would be proud! :)

  16. Samantha Jackson Says:

    Respondents in this census are often confusing race with nationality. For instance, respondents can feel strongly that parents born in Mexico are Mexican and their children born in the USA are American. Who designed these questions? This will be some messed up data. That is nationality, not race, IMO. Latinos are confused as to why there is no box for them even though there is an entire, separate question dedicated to them in the previous question.

    Still I find the whole thing very interesting. I do love seeing someone identify themselves as Cherokee or Apachee, for instance. I enjoy seeing people declare their heritage and that we have not lost all connection to the original peoples of this land.

  17. GS-X Says:

    The concept of Ethnicity is not clear or not different from the concept of Race to millions of residents of the United States. Perhaps Ethnicity needs to be done away with.
    Other characteristics, Country of Origin, Language, Ancestry, Citizenship and Race are often confused.
    Even many Census Bureau employees do not understand these different characteristics. Of these five characteristics, only Race is on the 2010 Census form.