What is the Census Bureau hiding?
Census, which is under investigation by several government agencies and by Congress, is refusing to turn over an estimated 1,900 e-mails and text messages between a regional supervisor in its Philadelphia office, where falsification of unemployment data took place, and a colleague in its Chicago region, who a source has identified as the supervisor’s mentor and confidant.
On March 5, under the Federal Freedom of Information Act, I requested all e-mails between Fernando Armstrong, the regional director of the Philadelphia office, and Stanley Moore, Chicago’s regional director, from 2010 until my filing date.
Census estimates there were 1,900 e-mails, but it turned over just 10 pages. Three of those pages weren’t even between those two men. The other seven are what we in the news business describe as crap.
The federal agency is also refusing to hand over any report that it may have written on Julius Buckmon, a former Census data collector who allegedly falsified surveys. Information from those surveys goes into the Labor Department’s unemployment report as well as its consumer inflation survey.
Information on falsification is detailed in documents from a racial and age discrimination complaint Buckmon filed against the bureau in 2010. Buckmon claims higher-ups told him to lie.
Meanwhile, another source has come forward to claim that data falsification was more widespread than just Philadelphia and that it continued even after Buckmon left in 2011.
This new source also tells me there was a keen focus at Census on the nation’s unemployment rate during the last presidential campaign. This rate is compiled from the Current Employment Survey — also known as the Household Survey — and uses data compiled by enumerators like Buckmon.
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- Judy Chaffee
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