As the U.S. census nears its final stages, the government is preparing for possible debacles that could derail its $15 billion head count, from mass identity theft and lawsuits to homeowners who refuse to answer their doors.
Census Bureau documents, obtained by The Associated Press, underscore the highly fragile nature of the high-stakes population count before the government dispatches some 700,000 temporary workers to visit homes, beginning in May. “Considering the volume of data that the Bureau of Census gathers during the census, some loss of confidential data is bound to occur,” one document bluntly states.
Placing a cap on costs if immigrants try to evade the count, the response plan notes that a census worker will attempt to visit a home six times at most – or fewer, if a resident makes clear he won’t cooperate – before the worker questions neighbors to get the information.If that fails, the Census Bureau will statistically impute data based on characteristics of neighboring households.
Other potential risks include:
Information technology breakdowns. A key software system used to schedule, deploy and pay census takers is full of defects, and its ability to handle a massive payroll of more than 600,000 temporary employees who begin work in May remains in doubt.
Lawsuits. Census officials are calling it “relatively certain” that they will be sued by at least one state that just misses gaining an additional U.S. House seat.
Mass retirements. A significant number of Census Bureau employees are now eligible to retire, and the 2010 count could be in peril if there is a mass exodus during peak census periods.
“With these things, anything can turn on a dime, implode and impact our ability to recruit staff and gain cooperation,” Arnold Jackson, the bureau’s associate director for the decennial census, said in an interview. “We also remain terribly concerned about safety.”
If you like this Census Plan you will love the Health Care Plan…… Maybe the Census should just count the illegals when they show up for “free health care”.