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Sinkhole of bureaucracy
The Washington Post ^ | March 22,2014 | David A. Fahrenthold

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 government’s 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 mine’s 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 don’t fix this,’ ” he said.

“People are crabby. They’re miserable. I mean, you can’t blame them. They never see any sunlight,” Armagost said. “I’m only down there for 2 ½ hours a day, and I can’t stand it.”

For workers inside the mine, Step 2 in the paperwork process is to take the retiree’s 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 mine’s eight massive file caverns. Inside, they are empty enough to be spooky.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government

1 posted on 03/23/2014 3:05:01 PM PDT by Hojczyk
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To: Hojczyk

Maybe they can use it for OBAMACARE…

2 posted on 03/23/2014 3:06:03 PM PDT by Hojczyk
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To: Hojczyk

Someone has to make sure federal retirees get paid.

The old fashioned way.

3 posted on 03/23/2014 3:17:40 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Hojczyk
My dad's retirement paperwork is two aisles over from the Ark of the Covenant.

4 posted on 03/23/2014 3:37:49 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (Republican amnesty supporters don't care whether their own homes are called mansions or haciendas.)
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To: Hojczyk

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.

5 posted on 03/23/2014 3:49:13 PM PDT by GAFreedom (Freedom rings in GA!)
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To: KarlInOhio
I had the same thought. That cave reminded me of the final scene from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
6 posted on 03/23/2014 4:04:28 PM PDT by JoeFromSidney (Book: Resistance to Tyranny. Buy from Amazon.)
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To: GAFreedom

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!

7 posted on 03/23/2014 4:25:23 PM PDT by 21twelve ( 2013 is 1933 REBORN)
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To: Hojczyk
From the linked article: Step 1 begins when a federal employee submits retirement paperwork to his or her own agency. That happens at least 100,000 times a year. Within a few days, the government starts sending “interim payments” to the retirees — checks worth about 80 percent of their full pensions. This is meant to tide them over while the mine works on the case.

There's your problem right there. Too many people retiring on Uncle Sugar's dime. Reduce that number to 10,000 per year or fewer, and suddenly your paperwork processing issues become manageable.

Stay tuned for more hard-hitting private sector-type solutions to your bureaucratic nightmares from The Stupendous Milton Miteybad.
8 posted on 03/23/2014 6:14:15 PM PDT by Milton Miteybad (I am Jim Thompson. {Really.})
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To: Hojczyk
Makes me wonder, who is the Congressman from that district?
9 posted on 03/23/2014 6:43:43 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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