QA: 500 Offices That Count

Getting workspaces right for the 2010 Census field work.

Decisions | Fed | Portfolio
Every ten years, the US Bureau of Census (BOC) counts each person in the US population. It begins with a form sent to all households requesting basic information. For those of us who don't return the form, the Bureau is required to follow up, in person. Every morning for 6 months, Census workers pick up forms and addresses from one of 500 Local Census Offices (LCOs), knock on doors and return in the evening with results. Building 500 LCOs is no small task. For the 2010 census LCO deployment was conducted in two phases: 150 in 2008, 350 in 2009. That's a big rollout. In each case, staff at the Bureau had eight months to lease, design, build and outfit the offices. That's a very tight schedule. LCOs are big spaces. 8-10,000 square feet, about the size of a local pharmacy. LCOs are highly sensitive to workflow and equipment placement. Furniture and IT provisions are exacting.  These spaces are leased, so every layout is unique. Landlords across the country lease space and submit designs meeting BOC standards. Headquarters and regional offices check each design to make sure they meet Census needs. Satisfactory designs are then built, furnished and equipped, ready for census operations. Landwave principal Frank Ebbert had extensive experience in doing large scale rollouts on tight schedules.  His expertise was exactly what the bureau needed, though it wasn't clear at the time.  Initially, the scope of work was to simply put qualified eyeballs on every design.  When Landwave engaged during the first phase of LCO rollouts, only 33% of design reviews were achieved. Of those reviews, the error rates were high. Construction was inconsistent, time consuming and costly. The IT teams alone issued 400 schedule changes due to the designs. During the lull between LCO phases, Frank speculated that revamping the presentation of LCO design requirements could improve performance. Landwave redesigned the requirements into a comprehensive guide, offering it to HQ Census at no cost if the regional offices did not see the value. HQ Census shared the guide with the regional offices to positive review. After initial troubleshooting, Landwave conducted training for 12 regional real estate groups. Design quality improved dramatically. Landwave's improvements allowed 3 reviews for 100% of the footprint with 70% of the designs having less than 5 errors. Construction proceeded ahead of schedule with very little rework. The IT teams only issued 100 total schedule changes, most of which had nothing to do with the designs. All participants benefited. GC's got it right the first time. National furniture and IT vendors dramatically reduced their errors and rework. And the Census Bureau was ready for 2010 ahead of schedule.