No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

I Don’t Have The Right Tools

by @ 5:48 on January 18, 2010. Filed under Free Shoebox.

You’ve got to love this opening paragraph:

A big reason why the government is inefficient and ineffective is because Washington has outdated technology, with federal workers having better computers at home than in the office.

The paragraph comes from this articlein which Peter Orszag claims that a significant reason for ineffective and inefficient government services is that their computers aren’t and other technology aren’t up to the latest standards.

You may have heard about my recent challenges with a particularly intrusive government agency.  It turns out they actually have a process for resolving my “problem.”  Step one was to fill out an internet form giving them basic information about myself, information about when and where I ceased to be able to fly freely and a couple of other items.  They then asked for me to send in COPIES of my passport and drivers license.  On their website they tell you VERY clearly that if they don’t receive your copies within 30 days, your file will be dumped and you will have to start the process all over again.

I had send in my documents about 12 days ago.  I had been checking their website daily.  I put in my case number and kept getting a message that they had not yet received my documents.  They also give you the option of emailing your information.  Because I hadn’t heard anything on the USPS version and I had already burned more than a third of my 30 days, I emailed the information. 

Two days went by and still they were not showing that they had received my information.  Assuming they had received it but hadn’t started working on it yet, and concerned that they at least acknowledge receipt before 30 days passed, I sent them an email stating when I had sent my information and asked if they could confirm receipt of my information.  The email was cordial and respectful.

The next day I got an email response.  This is what I received:

We received your submission. Documents are processed in the order of receipt and remain in a “pending paperwork” status until they have been reviewed and verified as complete.  No further action by you is required at this time. To that end, please do not resend. The website will not be updated until your documents have been reviewed by the triage team. Moreover, the message will not change until the documents are uploaded from the holding queue. Your request for redress will be reviewed and you will receive a final determination in writing. Reviews of requests for redress take a minimum of 30 business days.

If I may paraphrase:

Hey schlub, we received your stuff.  We’ll get to it when we’re good and ready.  However, you’ll have to guess as to whether we think you’ve sent us the right stuff or not.  We will not correspond with you until we make a unilateral decision and tell you whether you will ever again fly inconvenienced.  We won’t tell you what the normal expectation of time frame is because we are the government and have no expectations of accomplishing anything within a “normal” time frame.  What we can tell you is you will be inconvenienced a minimum of 6 weeks from the time that we decide to even start a review of your case!

Piss off!

The Government!

It’s probably just me but it would seem that a nice note saying “thanks for your inquiry.  We have received your documentation” and an update on their website indicating such, would have gone a long way to making me think these folks were actually serious about my information and serious about attempting to resolve my situation.  I would also think that resolving “he is who he says he is” issues like mine shouldn’t take more than a very few weeks.

Notice that my suggestions would improve both the effectiveness and the efficiency for both the agency and myself.  I’ll also point out that none of this requires anymore technology than the agency has available to them today.  In fact, I could step them back to 386 technology and do what I’ve suggested. 

For this particular agency to improve both their effectiveness and efficiency, no improved technology is required.  The only thing required is to use their brains rather than their CYA manual and they could improve themselves dramatically.

I know, I know, it’s not the people, it’s their tools!

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