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Were those pricey Super Bowl ads a waste? Maybe not, but paying $3 million to census employees who didn't do any work surely was. The Census Bureau, a month away from its 2010 population count, has already wasted millions of dollars paying temporary employees who never did the work and others who overbilled for travel, according to excerpts of an audit obtained by The Associated Press.
Among the audit findings:
--More than 10,000 census employees were paid more than $300 apiece to attend training for the massive address-canvassing effort, but they quit or were let go before they could perform any work. Cost: $3 million.
--Another 5,000 employees collected $300 for the same training but worked a single day or less. Cost $1.5 million.
--Twenty-three temporary census employees were paid for car mileage at 55 cents a mile, even though the number of miles they reported driving per hour exceeded the number of hours they actually worked.
--Another 581 employees who spent the majority of their time driving instead of conducting field work also received full mileage reimbursements, which investigators called questionable.
--Other temporary employees claimed nearly 3.9 million miles driven at the mileage reimbursement rate of 58.5 cents per mile, even though the federal rate had been reduced to 55 cents as of January 2009. The result: excess payments of roughly $136,000.
Census regional offices that had mileage costs exceeding their planned budgets included Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City and Seattle.