Patterico's Pontifications


The Machines Are Now In Control

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

While Lois Lerner hunts for her missing emails, a Marine is fighting the VA to convince them that he is not dead. The problem? A computer glitch.

HOUSTON — A Houston-area veteran who as a Marine served two tours in Iraq has been trying to convince the Department of Veterans Affairs that he is not dead.

Joe Morris received a service-related disability check for seven years but in April there was an apparent computer problem, KPRC-TV reported Tuesday.

His parents received a condolence letter from the government and he wrongly was classified as deceased as of April 1, Morris said. He spoke to government officials on April 14 to set up direct deposit after his disability check seemed to have gotten lost.

“That’s when they told me there was a computer glitch. The computer had automatically classified me as deceased. They don’t know what happened, they just said it did it on its own,” Morris said.

VA benefits representatives are looking into the matter, according to KPRC. Messages left with VA media officials were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Morris also learned that the VA wrongly notified the Social Security Administration that he died. That error showed up as Morris and his wife were in the process of buying a home.

Morris, who has relied on his wife’s credit information toward purchase of the residence, is getting his government checks again but wants the problems corrected.

“I don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” Morris said.

Just an observation: The most troubling common denominator in both stories is that two federal agencies should have been in control of the machines – not the other way around.


11 Responses to “The Machines Are Now In Control”

  1. stupid machines

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  2. Doesn’t take machines to do this, people can screw it up without them. It took my Mom a couple of days and a three-way phone call to Commandant Chapman (and me) to get it straightened out, and the fix put in place “Why the hell do they need a “Deceased” stamp in that post office?” he asked, and when told, ordered it to be removed; mail arriving was to be forwarded to the proper company office for verification of such status before being returned — with a stamp that indicated who was responsible for such a return and only after verification that proper notification had been performed.

    Computers propagate errors just as fast as they propagate truth.

    htom (412a17)

  3. These “computer errors” pre-existed computers. Then they were called “clerical errors.” As a Veterans Counselor, I encountered many such cases and each one took an incredibly long time to correct and, in my professional opinion, it was not the machines but the people in charge that was and is the problem.

    Michael M. Keohane (27a5a1)

  4. Systems, human and otherwise, can screw up when you’d think there’s no possible way.
    Thing is, they’re not usually built with a screw-up-fix subsystem in place. Machines
    won’t flex and people may be lazy or unwilling to admit they screwed up. Takes what
    is sometimes called an act of congress to get something stupid undone.

    Richard Aubrey (0605ef)

  5. I thought bureaucratic snafus that put individuals in the position of having to prove they were still alive happened only in India. There, a totally hidebound bureaucracy that runs almost everything is incapable of rectifying even simple goof ups, much less making a desd person live again. Such is the morass our country finds itself in. What bureaucrat will take the responsibility to correct his superiors’ mistakes?

    Perhaps every government agency should have an Ombudsman’s office to correct bureaucratic screw-ups. The only problem is that office might end up growing larger than the agency itself.

    Corky Boyd (c95a33)

  6. You are assuming that these are mistakes, and the machines are in control somehow. I would suggest that there is a more likely scenario where those machines were doing EXACTLY what a human operator told them to, and those human operators were executing a desired outcome.

    prowlerguy (3af7ff)

  7. prowlerguy : After spending most of my life in government, I find this quotation most accurate : “Do not classify the words and acts of your opponents as being hateful, malicious or criminal in nature if they can also be easily characterized as either simple ignorance or gross stupidity.” Anon.
    Few, if any, government employees are hateful, malicious or criminal but too many, in my opinion formed after years of observation, are capable of simple ignorance or gross stupidity.

    Michael M. Keohane (27a5a1)

  8. “Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”
    — Eric Raymond

    Milhouse (b95258)

  9. There is nothing new under the sun. This scenario, in several variations, was anticipated more than 50 years ago in several classical science fiction stories.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  10. Well I certainly won’t trust this government with SkyNet.

    DejectedHead (a094a6)

  11. It was actually done in Mississippi, up to 50 years ago, in birth registrars’ offices. Black children did not exist.

    nk (dbc370)

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