"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Do As I Say Not As I Do

I don't mean to kick our federal government while they are down (and boy are they down), but a week or so ago, I received a reference form from the US Office of Personnel.  I was required to fill out the reference form and return it ASAP.  Now for the ridiculous part.  In order to complete the form, I needed to use a No. 2 pencil and not place any stray marks on the sheet. 

I sat there and thought about all the times that I had to complete forms with that infamous No. 2 pencil, those pesky State tests in the first, third and fifth grades, personality tests in high school Sociology classes, IQ tests for middle school grade level placement, civil service exams and the list goes on. Unfortunately, those were all taken by me in the 60's and 70's.  This is 2013 and the federal government is still requiring a No. 2 pencil to complete a form.  This is the same government that is mandating that health care providers spend millions of dollars per provider to create state of the art health information systems. 

I don't have a problem with advancing information technology in health care.  I do, however, have a problem with the federal government mandating such a requirement when they asking me to provide a reference on a potential government employee with a Ticonderoga No. 2 pencil in hand. 

As I blogged last year, this is the same federal government that still requires certain forms to be typed written only.  Last year, I asked our clerical staff why we still had a Selectric typewriter available for use and the answer was government forms.  If it wasn't so ridiculous, it would be funny.

1 comment:

  1. Not saying it's not ridiculous, but it may not be appropriate to call out "the government" at large for these kinds of issues. There exists a combination of forces (e.g., union regulations, underfunded agencies, etc.) that lead to demands like "#2 pencil" for forms. For instance, due to union regulations, certain position descriptions at government agencies still cite the need for typewriter proficiency, but say nothing about the need for computer skills; therefore, a worker who cannot, in fact, use MSWord, cannot be disciplined for their inability to perform their job in a modern context.

    It may be silly that the government makes these requests, but applying a "Why should I have to invest in IT if you use ScanTron forms" approach to argument doesn't really follow.