Surveillance report finds some enumerators who falsified 2020 data were not fired

Some enumerators who falsified information during the 2020 count did not have their jobs fully redone, were not fired in a timely manner and, in some cases, even received bonuses, according to the monitoring group of the US Department of Commerce.

Findings released Friday by the Office of Inspector General raise concerns about possible damage to the quality of the once-a-decade headcount that determines political power and federal funding,

Off-campus college and university students were likely undercounted since the census began around the same time students were sent home to stop the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020, the review says. .

During the 2020 census, the Associated Press documented cases of enumerators who were pressured by their supervisors to enter false information into a computer system about houses they had not visited in order to be able to close the files during the last days of the census.

Supervisors were able to track the work of their enumerators in real time through mobile devices that enumerators used to record information on household counts, demographics, and member relationships. As a result, supervisors received alerts when actions raised red flags about accuracy, such as a census taker recording data on a house while away from the address or a census taker conducting an interview within minutes. only. As a quality control, other enumerators were sent back to the houses to re-interview the residents.

The Inspector General’s investigation concluded that some alerts were not properly resolved, some re-interviews were not properly conducted, and the work of some enumerators whose work had been flagged for data falsification had not been edited to correct its accuracy. In fact, some enumerators whose work was flagged for tampering received more cases, were not fired, and were reassigned to other operations, according to the report.

Of the 1,400 enumerators who were designated as “hard failures” due to questions about the accuracy of their work, only 300 were fired for misconduct or unsatisfactory performance. Of the 1,400 “hard fail” enumerators, 1,300 received bonuses ranging from $50 to $1,600 each, according to the report.

The census is the largest non-military mobilization in the United States. The data collected during the census determines the number of congressional seats each state gets. The numbers are also used to redraw political districts and distribute $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year. For this reason, undercounts can cost communities funding.

The 2020 census faced unprecedented challenges, including the pandemic, natural disasters and political interference from the Trump administration.

“As a result, we asserted that the results could not and should not be presented as a conclusive assessment of the overall quality of the census.”

In response to the Inspector General’s report, the Census Bureau said it appreciated the concerns raised but disagreed with the findings that data quality may have been damaged since the report only cited ‘a small number of cases on the overall workload.

“As a result, we asserted that the results could not and should not be presented as a conclusive assessment of the overall quality of the census,” Census Bureau Director Robert Santos said in the written response.

According to Census Bureau rules, college and university students should have been counted where they spent the most time, either in on-campus housing or off-campus apartments, even if they were expelled. home because of the pandemic. Most schools did not provide the Census Bureau with data on off-campus students, and the bureau had to use a last-ditch, less accurate statistical tool to fill in information gaps on more than 10 percent of the off-campus student population. when they received the information, says the Inspector General’s report.

Schools often did not provide the data because they did not have information about off-campus students or for confidentiality reasons. The Inspector General recommends the adoption of legislation that would oblige schools to provide the necessary information during future counts.

“Although difficult to quantify, the fiscal implication of specific undercounting of off-campus students in the right location for states and localities is potentially substantial,” the report states.

The city of Boston, home to Northeastern University, Boston University and several other schools, said in a challenge to its census figures that the count missed 6,000 students.



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