When I heard the latest news reports about the lost IRS e-mails, I was not surprised. From the perspective of a retired federal employee who has worked in a variety of agencies, e-mail problems are not unusual. Many federal agencies have severe budget shortages for what they really need for basic IT maintenance and technical support including daily system backups and storage. Crashed computers are not out of the ordinary either.
In the organizations I worked for, e-mail space was limited for most employees. This is a manager’s nightmare. We get many e-mails from inside and outside our agencies. Time and time again, I would start the day with a greeting that my mailbox was full and I could not send out any e-mails until I cleaned up my inbox. Oh, I could do this by saving e-mails on my network drive. This worked for a while until I ran out of network storage space.
Oh and please don’t consider asking for more e-mail and network space. Also, please don’t ask whether daily system backups mean the ‘entire’ system is backed up or just select portions.
Can you imagine what would happen if all federal employees asked for more e-mail and network space every time they ran out of either? What a nightmare. Oh and needless to say that many requests would be denied anyway. Why? No budget for this.
As I listen to these news reports, I am still amazed at what our Congressional leaders don’t know or pretend not to know about how their federal agencies (particularly those who are non-defense related agencies) have been functioning for many, many, many years. This problem is not new. Current levels of IT funding keep many federal agencies limping along. IT’s major focus has been security of data and information, rightfully so.
I wish current federal employees felt free to say how they are forced to work with fewer and fewer IT resources and technical support. This makes their jobs difficult. It makes the federal government appear to be slow to respond to requests or just plain non-responsive.
Ask your federal employee neighbor about this, your non-defense federal employee neighbor. I hope you have at least one. Maybe a confidential survey can be taken of a representative sample of current federal employees. I do believe that news reporters should do more digging into these issues rather than just reporting what someone says.
This IT maintenance and technical support issue is a serious one. Instead of beating up federal employees for the results of this problem, how about providing the appropriate support to fix it? What a novel idea.