Wednesday, January 07, 2009

7,000 Family Members of Deceased Soldiers Get "John Doe" Letter

The U.S. Army Human Resources Command's Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Center sent a letter to family members of soldiers killed in action. The letters arrived addressed to John Doe, offending military relatives. Other than the sheer size of the error, what's unique about this instance of poor performance?

First, the letter communicated what private organizations can do for families who lost a loved one to war. Does that mean public efforts are insufficient?

Second, the letter was sent by a contractor. They should have been automatically addressed with the specific names and addresses of survivors. That didn't happen.

"There are no words to adequately apologize for this mistake or for the hurt it may have caused," Brig. Gen. Reuben D. Jones, the Army adjutant general, said in the statement to be posted.

But there are words to describe this glitch, widespread privatization and poor quality. A decade of government outsourcing to save money and reduce headcount means many functions are performed by private companies.

Layers of contractors remove workers from customers. How many hands missed 7,000 letters addressed to John Doe? It's a sad, painful reflection of the state of quality in America. Abysmal.

No comments: