Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Census Report: GQ To NRFU To VDC

When I was hired as a Crew Leader in Brooklyn for the U.S. Census Bureau at the beginning of February, I was informed that if I was still employed through June, consider myself one lucky mother. Nearly six months later, I count my blessings (get it? Count. Census. Heelarious) every Wednesday when my bank account balance ticks up another dime or two.

Since I began, I’ve assisted in the Group Quarters and Nonresponse Follow-Up (NRFU) operations, helped with recruiting and floated for Quality Assurance. Believe me, I know how fortunate I am to keep on keeping on: By June 30, more than three-quarters of the 635,000 temporary workers hired nationwide for the Census had been dismissed.

And it was looking tentative for me a couple weeks ago as 96 NRFU Crew Leaders in my Brooklyn district were sliced down to 40 to begin yet another operation this week. Thank god I remained on enough supervisors' radar to make the cut.

We are now checking work that has already been done… sometimes more than once. Who am I to question Washington’s mandate? Yesterday, I met my new crew of five enumerators, all who worked during NRFU. I also have a new supervisor for the first time since I started. That's a bit odd... like getting a new boss at your job...

VDC—or Vacant Delete Check—is the enumeration of residential addresses listed as vacant or non-existent during NRFU. In other words: still vacant? Check. Not the case? We re-enumerate. It’s a simpler exercise than knocking on doors to secure information from often contentious residents or worse, asshole doormen who refuse entry to Census workers (a federal offense).

But then again, it’s also a lot drier. Fewer folks answering in their underwear. Or slamming doors in our faces. Cursing us out. Threatening to call the police. That was good clean fun.

In all, U.S. Census workers will revisit 8.5 million housing units previously identified as vacant. Damn glad to remain in the Census saddle... til I'm finally thrown from the fed filly once and for all.