What's that costing you? Census Bureau spends tax dollars giving out awards

9:25 PM, Sep 9, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- As they tally up the cost for the 2010 Census, the numbers are staggering.

Taxpayers spent $340 million for a multimedia ad campaign, including $2.5 million for one Super Bowl spot.

The agency has come under fire for what some call missteps. For example, the Census spent $23,000 on a totem pole in Alaska. Census representative Hector Maldonado says the agency thought it was a great idea. The plan was to increase participation in Alaska, but despite the totem pole, participation dropped in the state by two percent from the last census.

Then there was the letter telling us to look for the census form that was soon going to arrive in the mail. Taxpayers couldn't believe that waste of money. One YouTube rant has a taxpayer saying, "Of all the waste going on, with people out of work, we still had the money to send out a letter to say they are going to send out a letter."

That letter and a follow up post card that came after the census, reminding people to mail it, cost taxpayers $85 million.

Then the fun-loving folks at the Census Bureau spent $42 million to send out duplicate forms to zip codes that had less than a 59 percent return rate in 2000.

The latest award-winning idea from the Census Bureau is literally an award. As we learned at George Levy Awards, there are all sorts of awards and the Census Bureau was frugal in avoiding the most expensive award. However, it sent 59,000 awards to people, including the media, who helped get out the word about the census.

And while the sign at the Census Bureau says, "Warning! U.S. Government", some are saying it should say, "Warning! Your tax dollars are being wasted."

While we certainly appreciate the Census Bureau giving 10 News an award for doing our job, some taxpayers say that it is not a good use of public money.

Melanie Capello says she thinks it is ridiculous that taxpayer money should be spent to give news outlets awards. Ben Jones told us he would like to see taxpayer money spent more wisely.

While the Census Bureau says the awards are a small way to thank those who helped, and it is keeping a watchful eye on tax dollars, taxpayers aren't convinced.

What's this latest census venture costing you?  The cost for the awards is $ 413,000, and taxpayers we talked to are not happy.

Luckily, the agency that spent $14.5 billion this year on the census won't do it again until 2020.

Mike Deeson, 10 News

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