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They Just Don’t Get IT

Because going to the County Tax Collector’s office to renew license plates is a pain, I decided to to try the on-line renewal that was offered [note that Florida now offers a two-year renewal] in the notice. What a joke.

I can understand about the invalid security certificate, they are using a certificate for the old site and haven’t changed it yet, but the “problem” the state DMV found in the records was laughable and shows why datamining is a concept that is wasted on these people.

The associated DMV records didn’t match because the city name “Fort Walton Beach” appeared as “Ft Walton Beach” on one record, and “Ft Walton Bch” on another, while all of the other information was the same. The renewal notice has the unabbreviated version, and all of them have the complete 9 digit ZIP code.

Now this is just silly, and shows that the DMV hasn’t figured out that you can get reasonably priced software and the necessary data from the Postal Service to correct all of the addresses in a data base, include the complete ZIP code, and mark any records that don’t have a valid address.

I would ignore it, except, the DMV files are also used to challenge voters. If they mark the records as not matching, it looks like you don’t live at the address listed, and you could be dropped from the rolls. These are the types of stupid errors that should and can be caught at input in a properly designed program, but without any state employees you know anything about IT to write specifications, the outside vendor who writes the software isn’t apt to do it.


1 fallenmonk { 12.29.08 at 7:46 am }

It makes it so much more frustrating when you know how easy it is to get it right. The thing that amazes me is that these issues have been solved over and over again in private industry but for some reason government wants to reinvent the wheel every time the do some project like this.
You would think that some of the people working on the project had actually used an application like Google Maps.

2 Bryan { 12.29.08 at 10:59 am }

The problem is that governments are outsourcing all of their IT projects and don’t have anyone who understands how to write specifications or truly evaluate the bids beyond price. Most of the problems with government systems are data entry errors that can be validated on input, or batch mode, but the people in charge don’t know about it.

I have used the USPS stuff since it was available on 9-track tape back when they introduced the Plus4 for ZIP codes. The renewal notice, upon closer inspection, was mailed by an outside vendor who obviously has the software in place and converted the address to the USPS standard and added the postal bar code to get the best postage rate. The savings for doing this is the profit margin for mailers.

Without in house IT people the government doesn’t know what’s possible and has no way of really knowing if what they got is what they needed.