For reasons that remain unclear to me, my youngestdaughter harbors a strange obsession with the pending U.S. census forms.

She frequently checks our mailbox to see if they'vearrived (I should point out that bringing in the mail is something shestudiously avoids the rest of the year along with emptying the dishwasher, butI digress).

Like millions of others, she saw the census commercialsthat aired during the Super Bowl courtesy of a multi-million-dollar ad budget,which served only to heighten her anticipation.

As for me, I was of the strong opinion that, despite apolished façade and a host of radio and TV spots stressing the importance ofcorrectly answering the 2010 poll, I knew that the government's inherentinability to run anything would eventually overtake good intentions.

And they didn't disappoint.

The colloquial headcount hasn't even officially launched,but the Census Bureau has already managed to waste millions in taxpayer money.

I can't even begin to fake surprise.

So where exactly did the money go?

Let's see, according to various reports, the CommerceDepartment's inspector general's office said the misdirected and now absentfunds went for everything from training no-show employees to gas reimbursementsto people who either never drove or rarely left their cars.

The budgetary problems apparently began last fall as thebureau poured in $444 million in an attempt to update its maps and mailinglists and hired 14,000 temporary survey workers.

The project ran ahead of schedule, but still managed topost cost overruns to the tune of 25 percent or $88 million.

Another $3 million (almost miniscule in comparison tomost reports of government waste) was squandered when the Census Bureau doledout $300 apiece to workers who either were let go or quit without doing astitch of work.

The news gets even worse.

The Commerce Department auditor has warned that thefiscal waste could grow even larger once the survey begins in earnest nextmonth. For those unfamiliar with government-speak, roughly translated it means,"It's at least double the size of what we first suspected."

Let's hope the headcount is more accurate.

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