Friday, February 25, 2011

Social Security IT Department can't be worse than your IT

After the previous post and some real life experience, I just want to say that I know believe IT is the failure of an organization. In this case it is the government.

I was going to file my W-3 forms online. For those non-tax people (My MBA is in International Tax) out there or non-US people, a W-3 form is the version of the W-2 filed with the IRS, Internal (some say infernal) Revenue Service. A W-2 is one's wage statement at the end of the year.

So as I was filing ours the password had expired, so naturally I click on reset password. A nice popup(wish I had screen shot of it) says I will receive my new temporary password, not via email, not on screen, but! Wait, it gets better. It says to let 2 weeks pass before contacting them.

Now the very nice and patient woman who answered my call to the 800 number pointed out that if I file electronically I have till March 31. Only if filing by paper is it due Feb 28.Okay, saved by the bell, but ...huh?!

The site asks me to validate I am me, Social security number, birth date etc. and still doesn't trust me? I have ALL of my company docs so what question could they ask that I can't answer? None. They do not provide an challenge answer system. Today.

The nice woman explained  that there will be a new solution coming to change this in the future. Wanted to ask if this was using Microsoft time or government time, not sure which is shorter. She also let me know that the password I used expires anyway after 90 days. WHAT?! Something I enter once a year has a password expiration and after 90 days? It doesn't even make it to next year? So EVERYONE on Earth who filed this has to wait 2 weeks to get their password in the mail? This is a MASSIVE failure of IT at it's worst.

The President wants to clean up excessive spending, I suggest they look at the Social Security Administration. So we have who knows how many letters, envelopes and postage wasted because someone in IT was overly security minded? Trade off here is what? And to who's benefit?

Talk about not being part of the organizations direction, goals or targets. This is not President Obama's fault, this has been going on for years but in the past, the password used to last 1 year(or so the paperwork I have claimed this a few years ago).

It is not IT that dooms your business always, the crazy paranoid security people also cause the problem to get worse. Did no one in the room at the time not ask, why 90 days if people log in once a year?

On the bright side, what genius thinks we need no IT? So this whole IRS filing online thing would just happen mysteriously and magically because some monkeys on typewriters wrote the code?