Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bureaucracy at its worst

I certainly hope you filled out your Census information and mailed it in. Because if you didn't you're going to get hounded by a census taker again and again and again. And when you finally do cooperate and give them the needed information, it's very possible ANOTHER census worker will drop by your door to hound you again and again and again.

Unfortunately, the latter position is my new job. I'm a Non-Respondent Follow-up Reinterview Enumerator, or NRFU-RI-ENUM for short. I'm basically quality control for the original enumerator.

Not only does it seem redundant, stupid and wasteful, but it also sounds really dangerous. These people probably aren't happy to give their information to an enumerator in the first place, so they'll be even less thrilled when I come knocking on their door to make sure the first census taker didn't forge the information.

Now, we are not doing this for the entire population that didn't respond, just 20 percent of those. It's designed to be a quality control measure, but it sounds like a big fat waste of time.

For the 2020 Census, I'm suggesting we give each household $50 to respond to the original mailing. And if that doesn't work, start airing commercials informing non-respondents that an army of census workers will be hounding you for months if you don't Mail It Back.

It would probably be cheaper -- and safer -- that way.


  1. Out of curiosity, when did you apply? I seem to have not been hired despite a score of 26 out of 28 on the test.

  2. I applied in November and took the test a couple weeks later. It's hard to say how they chose the people for these jobs. But they seem to hire for new phases each week, so you still might have a chance.

  3. I'm doing this as well and have encountered mostly opposition from people. Only one guy has responded to my questions; the rest either refuse or don't answer even though I'm pretty sure they're home. Some have been VERY rude.

    I know they're annoyed, but I can see why the Census is doing this. Imagine if a bunch of enumerators were falsifying information and not even visiting people's homes. We would never hear the end of it, and everyone would scream "Why weren't you checking on these people?" So in the end, I just don't think we can win. Period. People forget that the Census workers are their neighbors and are just trying to do a job, and I just cannot understand why they get so worked up over nothing.

  4. I also have been running into some opposition, but most people are just very confused why there's another census worker at their door. I try to explain that we're doing quality control and just making sure that the original enumerator did his job right. I also tell them it shouldn't take any longer than 5 minutes. That usually puts them at ease and they're willing to cooperate and get it over.