The Spectacle Blog

Census Party Time in Vegas

By on 9.22.10 | 1:58PM

The CBS affiliate in Denver reports that the Census Bureau paid about $100,000 in airfare, meals and hotel for 140 of its administrators in the West to gather at a Las Vegas luxury hotel to confer on "lessons learned." Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican, saw it differently:

"It's impossible to argue this without saying these folks took a vacation and they took it at taxpayer expense.... I mean I think it's the equivalent of theft," said Coffman, who insisted the Census Bureau could have saved taxpayers money by gathering the same information from administrators by conducting online and written surveys, phone conferencing and a host of other data-gathering methods that would not involve congregating in Las Vegas.

"You need to be respectful of taxpayers. Don't waste their money on a three-day party in Las Vegas or anywhere else to have discussions you can have via a written survey."

Reporter Brian Maass says that wasn't the only lesson learning that the Census Bureau hosted:

CBS4 has learned the Las Vegas meeting was actually one of a dozen that involved flying census managers into central locations and putting them up at hotels. The Census Bureau has 12 regional offices in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Seattle. The Census Bureau held similar "lessons learned" debriefing sessions in each region.

Indeed, the Census flags were flying at another Vegas casino/hotel a couple of weeks earlier (you may want to avert your eyes on the Macarena):

At least they didn't drop the big bucks on professional entertainers.

Hat tip: Complete Colorado.

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