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Census bureau can count people but not money

There’s a fine line between counting and accounting. But the federal agency responsible for counting the number of American residents already has some accounting problems.

The Commerce Department’s inspector general … determined that more than 10,000 census employees were paid $300 to attend training on updating addresses and maps, but the workers quit or were let go before they could perform the work.

The waste amounted to $3 million. Another 5,000 workers collected the $300 payment and then worked a single day or less at a waste of $1.5 million.

Twenty-three temporary census employees were paid for car mileage costs at 55 cents a mile, even though the number of miles they reported driving per hour exceeded the total number of hours they actually worked.

The $15 billion Census Bureau budget for manually counting 300 million residents is in serious jeopardy of not being big enough. …

The Obama administration is looking at the temporary census workers as a way to again jump start the economy. But the revolving door of spending has to be slowed.

The Census Bureau also must rein in the cost of counting Americans. Proper accounting needs to be followed. But the emphasis must be on an accurate count of Americans. …

Counting and accounting need to go hand in hand for the Census Bureau.

Steubenville Herald-Star,

Feb. 20