She came back again.
This was her third visit now (she said fourth, but I may not have been here for one of them) to confirm. She basically just asked "everything the
same?" I said yes, and she thanked me and was ready to leave.
Instead I spoke to her, asked for another card, etc. So here are some details from the conversation, and my inferences from it:
She claimed that the census bureau doesn't have enuogh money to survey absolutely everyone, so they randomly pick a number of houses and extrapolate
the rest from them. By re-visting the same houses, they can get an idea of thing like how often people move without actually havine to ask, and she
said it is also useful to know, for instance, the difference between someone who is unemployed for a long time, and someone who has been laid off one
visit, but is working again in the next.
They have a variety of different "types" of questionnaires. She described the one we were doing (number and age of people and employment) as being
one of the easy ones. She described another, in which people were asked to give a complete list of all monthly expenditures, breaking down costs of
rrent, insurance, mortgages, food etc. She gave a curious explanation of this...saying that by knowing cost of living in an area, and by knowing how
quickly it rises, the powers that be are better able to make adjustments for things. (Sadly, I did not ask the manner in which they do they this.)
She didn't bring her card to the door, so we went out to her car, and she asked me to hold her latop. It was a fairly beaten up Dell laptop, running
what appeared to be a dos database program by the name of "CPS 2000." All text, "CPS 2000" at the top left, a longer description across the top,
several names ina list down the length of the screen. Very minimalist looking program.
Here is the information from the card: (I am omitting her name and number to her direct line.)
US Census Bureau
Helping you make informed decisions
Los Angeles Regional Office
15350 Sherman Way, Suite 300
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Phone: (800) 992-3530
The logo is of a shield inside three concentric circles. The shield bears, from top to bottom, an open book, a little splotch that sort of resembles a
genie's lamp with some "glint" lines, and a pair of cross feathers. The first circle contains what looks like a laurel wreath, or possibly leaves,
surrounding the shield. The second circle contains the expressions "US DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE" and "BUREAU OF THE CENSUS" as well as two stars,
which separate the two expressions. The third circle is filled in, and contains a string of dots. (Stars? Hard to tell, it's small.)
I've looked around, just briefly, at www.census.gov...
but I don't see the logo anyplace.
She mentioned that if I wanted to call the number to make she that she was legitimite, I would get an automated system that handled a bunch of things,
and that to get to the portion of the system that was relavant to her survey, to choose the option on the menu for "CPS" which I think she said
stood for "Current Population Survey."
In any case...while I've no way of knowing what exactly is being done with the information, I wasn't left with the impression that there was
anything nefarious about it.