Some lucky Texans are a getting a dollar bill in the mail this week, courtesy of the US Department of Commerce — along with a survey asking about their travel habits. The dollar is real, but is the survey legit? Depends on how you feel about your tax dollars…

The cover letter is signed by an “Anthony Dvarskas, Economist, United States Department of Commerce.” The letter says the survey “is part of a larger study of how many people spend their time and their business and leisure travel.”

(Read the cover letter and survey here.)

In the three-question survey, “randomly selected” respondents are asked about shopping habits, and areas where you have travelled for business and “pleasure.”

Is the survey legit? The survey itself lists a toll-free number to call, which is a voicemail for “Anthony Dvarskas” of the US Department of Commerce. Yet call the US Department of Commerce switchboard, and you get routed to a voicemail for “Anthony Dvarskas of NOAA.”

(The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a division of the Department of Commerce.)

Turns out the survey is legitimate — as in, it is being conducted by the Department of Commerce.

According to Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Horowitz, the Department of Commerce sent the package to 124,000 households nationwide, and 5,985 in Texas.

So that’s 124,000 dollar bills mailed, asking three questions. $124,000 plus the postage, printing, preparation, collection… Seem like a good use of your federal tax dollars to you?

It sure doesn’t to us either, though it is possible the federal government could find even more objectionable ways to spend our money.


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