Census Bureau Outsourced Swag-Making to China: Report

Gear could have cost up to $340 mil

By Andrew Greiner
|  Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010  |  Updated 8:57 AM CDT
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The U.S. Census is all about counting Americans. But the bureau is counting on foreign labor to make its community outreach swag.

Take a peek at the inside label on any of the t-shirts or hats being distributed to Chicago officials as part of the bureau’s “March to the Mailbox” non-compliance program and you’ll see the words Made in China, Bangladesh or Haiti emblazoned, says the Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed.

The outsourcing has bureaucrats incensed, because they say the feds spent $340 million on the gear.

"It's outrageous," Ald. Ed Burke said to Sneed. "It seems the U.S. Census Bureau has outsourced their 'concessions' to countries outside the United States.

A Census official told the Sun-Times that the organization the outreach materials are likely being ordered by one of the numerous national outreach partners the organization is using to get the word out about the importance of filling out the census.

Still, it doesn’t look good for the feds to use products from outside the country when there is upward of 13 percent unemployment in some of the neighborhoods where the gear is being distributed.

"It's hard to believe the bureaucracy of the federal government would not be sensitive to the concerns of the average citizen who is worried about getting or keeping a job in these tough times," Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon told the paper. "With 15 million men and women unemployed in this country, it is outrageous that our government turned elsewhere for materials to promote the census. It could have been a mini-stimulus package of its own.

 
 

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