Report: Census workers cheating, possibly breaking laws 

Temporary Census workers may have violated the law by disclosing resident information to  websites to track down respondents, according to a new report from the Commerce Departments Office of Inspector General. Under Title 13 of the United States Code, “individuals may be fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned not more than 5 years for disclosing Census Bureau data,” something they may have been doing if they inputted Census information into search engines.

The report also documents other concerns over whether the 600,000 temporary Census workers were following procedure. These workers, called “enumerators,” are responsible for determining “the status of households that received questionnaires in March but did not mail them back.” According to the report, procedures for asking race and ethnicity questions are not being followed, completed enumeration questionnaires are not being tracked, and incorrect information is appearing on “notice of visit” forms.

Even more alarming is that “almost one-third of the enumerations [the inspector general] observed were proxy interviews.” As the report states:

Minimizing the use of proxy information is important because of its higher potential for providing inaccurate and incomplete—or falsified—data. For example, during the second week of June, OIG staff observed Census field supervisors identifying alleged cases of fraudulent enumerations made by employees who are suspected of using the Internet as the source for the information placed on the questionnaire.

To be fair, the manual doesn’t encourage such a practice, but it doesn’t explicitly prohibit it either. Which begs the question: The bureau is providing employees with sensitive information that may be unlawful to share — why is it not bending over backwards to ensure it is kept confidential?

The Examiner called the Census Bureau and is awaiting a response.

About The Author

J.P. Freire

J.P. Freire is the associate editor of commentary. Previously he was the managing editor of the American Spectator. Freire was named journalist of the year for 2009 by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). You can follow him on Twitter here. Besides the Spectator, Freire's work has appeared in... more
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