Skip to comments.Sinkhole of bureaucracy
Posted on 03/23/2014 3:05:01 PM PDT by Hojczyk
Here, inside the caverns of an old Pennsylvania limestone mine, there are 600 employees of the Office of Personnel Management. Their task is nothing top-secret. It is to process the retirement papers of the governments own workers.
But that system has a spectacular flaw. It still must be done entirely by hand, and almost entirely on paper.
The employees here pass thousands of case files from cavern to cavern and then key in retirees personal data, one line at a time. They work underground not for secrecy but for space. The old mines tunnels have room for more than 28,000 file cabinets of paper records.
This odd place is an example of how hard it is to get a time-wasting bug out of a big bureaucratic system.
Held up by all that paper, work in the mine runs as slowly now as it did in 1977.
The need for automation was clear in 1981, said James W. Morrison Jr., who oversaw the retirement-processing system under President Ronald Reagan. In a telephone interview this year, Morrison recalled his horror upon learning that the system was all run on paper: After a year, I thought, God, my reputation will be ruined if we dont fix this, he said.
People are crabby. Theyre miserable. I mean, you cant blame them. They never see any sunlight, Armagost said. Im only down there for 2 ½ hours a day, and I cant stand it.
For workers inside the mine, Step 2 in the paperwork process is to take the retirees newly arrived file and match it up with any records already stored in the mine.
In about 15 percent of the cases, that means a long walk into the mines eight massive file caverns. Inside, they are empty enough to be spooky.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Maybe they can use it for OBAMACARE
Someone has to make sure federal retirees get paid.
The old fashioned way.
Problem #1: They’re using contractors to try and digitize. NEVER use a contractor for a job like this. You want a homebrew solution for something that large.
Problem #2: They’re not spending the money for GOOD contractors. They’re cheaping out. Pay my employer enough cash, and we’ll implement a Total Document Solution for them. Expensive? You bet. Does it work? Like a charm.
28,000 cabinets. Lets say they have 5 drawers each. Looking at mine in the office, say 100 files in each drawer. So they have 14 million files to go through.
I have no idea what is in the files, but probably things like name, rank, ss number, salary, benifits, spouse, etc. It is not one’s life history - so say they can input (even by hand) 23 files per day (say 1 every 20 minutes).
With 600 people, that is 14,000 records a day. A thousand days to input it - 2.7 years. Lets say I’m off - and it takes them 6 years instead. That is a far cry from 1977!
Oh. Wait. This is the government we’re talking about. So two files takes a week to process. (I know, ever the optimist). But - lots of trudging back and forth through the caverns. Getting outside for “light” breaks. Lunch. A snack. Hey it all takes time. That is 1200 per week - so say 1400 per week. So about 67,000 per year.
Another 209 years they should have it wrapped up!