The House Oversight and Reform Committee is demanding answers from the director of the Census Bureau after a news outlet reported that Census employees may have fabricated data for a jobs report that showed a significant drop in unemployment under President Obama just a month from Election Day 2012.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote Tuesday to Census Bureau Director John Thompson calling the allegations in the New York Post "shocking." Issa requested information about Julius Buckmon, the employee the Post said fabricated data after being unable to reach the people who had the information he needed.
The jobs report, released in October 2012 just ahead of Election Day, showed that the unemployment rate had dropped under Obama from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent even though the economy had added only 114,000 jobs.
Issa wants all of Buckmon's emails, his list of supervisors and any material related to a government investigation of Buckmon's actions, which according to the Post took place in 2010 and escalated in the months leading up to the election. Issa gave the bureau until Dec. 3 to produce the information.
Buckmon worked in the Census Department's Philadelphia office, one of five survey facilities around the country. The Post said that Buckmon "was not the only one" who falsified jobs data.
The Post reported that the Census Bureau never reported the faked data to the Department of Labor, which computes the unemployment numbers, and that 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. "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 Census Bureau is part of the Commerce Department. In January 2009, however, Obama changed the bureau's command structure so that the director also reports to the White House, prompting objections from Republicans who feared the move would politicize the independent agency.