Re-elect Dan Lipinski Congressman

Lawmakers decry Census' purchase of imports

May 23, 2010 -

The Census Bureau spent at least $4.3 million on imported T-shirts, hats and other promotional items rather than purchasing American-made products, lawmakers revealed last week.

The purchases came to light last month when the agency sent a dozen boxes of items made in China, Bangladesh and elsewhere to Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., said in a May 20 statement. Since then, boxes of other census promotional items made overseas turned up in Boston. The agency spent $42 million on 67 million items to promote the 2010 census, and it's unclear how much of that was spent on imported goods, Lipinski said.

Twenty lawmakers sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Census Director Robert Groves May 19, questioning whether the purchases violate the Buy American Act. The department contends the purchases complied with the act because they were "substantially transformed" through printing that was done in the U.S. and because the items were purchased through an American company.

Lawmakers said the department's response rings false. "Receiving hats and T-shirts made in China or Bangladesh is an affront to the millions of Americans that are looking for work, and could lead to unfavorable views of the Census Bureau, perhaps even leading to lower response rates," they wrote.

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