Republican U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa called the director of the U.S. Census Bureau on the carpet Tuesday to answer questions raised by a New York Post report
alleging that a surveyor faked data for a key unemployment report just before the 2012 presidential election.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Census Bureau Director John Thompson, Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, called the Post report "shocking," and requested information pertaining to census worker Julius Buckmon, the Washington Examiner reported
According to the Post, Buckmon -- apparently unable to reach people by phone or in person -- made up data to fill in incomplete survey results for the September 2012 unemployment report.
The report, released Oct. 5, 2012, showed a dramatic drop in the unemployment rate, from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, even though only 114,000 jobs were added.
Issa, of California, wants information about the collection of jobless numbers, which is part of the bureau's Current Population Survey, the Examiner reported -- as well as all of Buckmon's emails, his list of supervisors and any material related to a government investigation of Buckmon's actions.
Buckmon worked in the Census Bureau's Philadelphia office; there are five other survey offices across the country.
According to the Post, Buckmon "was not the only one" faking survey data.
The Post said the Census Bureau never reported the faked data to the Department of Labor, which computes the unemployment numbers, and the fabrication may have been ordered by census supervisors.
"Since the bureau relies on the American public for its data, it is important that the Census Bureau cooperate with all investigations into this matter," Issa wrote in the letter.
"Any erosion of trust by the Census Bureau would have an immediate impact on other important census surveys, such as the American Community Survey, or the planning and implementation of the 2020 decennial census."
The Oversight panel wants the Census Bureau to hand over the requested information by Dec. 3.
Meanwhile, Business Insider reported
that Buckmon hasn't worked at the bureau since August 2011.
"We have no reason to believe this isn't an isolated incident," a c
ensus spokesperson told Business Insider. "This was an employee who was willfully disobeying census procedures and disobeying the law."
The spokesperson said that because of privacy laws, she couldn't comment on the reasons for a specific employee's leaving the bureau. But the spokesperson did say that when the bureau discovers inappropriate activity, the matter is referred to the Department of Labor's inspector general.
The field representative would be subject to disciplinary action, including termination, if the IG finds any wrongdoing.
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