A former Census Bureau employe testified in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that he and other workers had been told not to give crucial follow-up forms to those who unexpectedly asked for them because they might be impossible to process.
City and state officials are contesting the 1980 census, contending that as many as 1 million residents may have been missed. At stake are congressional seats and federal aid keyed to population.
As the trial began, Judge Henry Werker ordered Commerce Secretary Philip Klutznick, whose agency oversees the Census bureau, to come to New York to give a deposition to the plaintiffs.
The employe, Steve Glusman, testified that he was told during a Sept. 15 training meeting that he and others conducting a follow-up survey should not give forms to people who approached them on the street and asked for one.
Glusman said workers had been told, "We don't want to waste any time with it. What if they don't live in this district or if their district office is closed? We can't deal with it; we can't process it."
He also said that leaders of enumerators' crews had felt pressure to complete as many cases as possible and were "routinely covering problem cases by writing them up as vacant."