Tuesday, March 9, 2010

eServices: The Best Invention since Sliced Bread!

We get all sorts of emails from folks, sometimes just saying hello, sometimes saying thank you, sometimes a rant here or there, and sometimes just frustrations brewing over that no HR can help with. Not that we can help either. But we try to listen kindly without interruption. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed. We don’t give out names and we don’t give out email addresses either.

Some folks understandably do not want anything posted in public, for fear of being traced to their undisclosed locations. We understand that and we try our best not to leave some bread crumbs on the street. 

Other times, folks just really want to scream quietly – like the most recent one we got on the State Department’s eServices, apparently the best invention since sliced bread. We’ll keep this rant short, but not too short.  If you have a serious aversion to rants, please skip this and move on. We don't want to ruin your day.

Anyway, it used to be that the spouses can do requests for house repairs, electrical work and things that break down in US owned or rented properties. We don’t know when this actually happened (I’m sure somebody will enlighten me) but somebody at the State Department had this great bright idea that such services should be automated through eServices. Here is what the Department says about eServices touted in its 100-Day Report:
Developed Collaborative Management Initiative (CMI): A quality management system enables overseas posts to deliver high-quality, customer-focused services that are consistent, cost-effective, and measurable. The Department is currently rolling out an enhanced web-based ordering system, eServices, providing USG customers across the globe with standardized access to programs. Analysis of performance metrics collected by eServices will significantly enhance the State Department’s ability to direct resources where and when they are needed most.

Excuse me -- unless you've been under a rock the last several years, you know that State Department resources have been directed to Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.  After the last election, we thought maybe the imbalance would start to right itself.  Instead, resources are now suck not just by one post but by the Big3 also known as I'AfPak -- Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Really. We could have done those metrics for free, save the government money so it can significantly enhance its ability to direct more money to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.      

The problem - of course, there  is a problem or nobody would come ranting about this here.  The spouses and partners (who are at home because they could not find work) have no access to it. The employee has to make those requests through eServices via the intranet. Apparently, no email or paper requests will be entertained. Toilet overflowed? Go to eServices! Basement flooded with knee-high sludgy, yucky water? No problem, go to eServices! No running water? Go to eServices, dammit! Employee traveling? Too bad. DIY at your own peril!

Folks with active gray cells between the ears can sympathize.  Family members  (a large number college educated and they read English) could no longer do even the simplest thing for their occupied houses/apartments because they are not real people with logons. The next thing you know, you need somebody to hold your hand when you cross the street in Burkina Faso. 

Let me illustrate -- if your spouse is a Consular Officer who conducts interviews starting at 8:15 am – he/she must attend to repair requests before the interviews. If he/she doesn’t at the start of the day, he/she should do this during his spare time. Of course, we all know that consular officers have tons of free time after interviewing 200 applicants. If you are the employee and happened to be high enough in the pyramid to merit an office assistant, I supposed – your spouse can tell you what needs repair, you can tell your office assistant what needs repair, and he/she can request the needed repairs through eServices. Sounds like a wonderful and delightful office relay! 

Whose idea of ENHANCED “service” is this?  Um, that’s me in my upper case voice.

But really, you guys are lucky; let's be reasonable here.  Imagine if they went for EXCELLENT instead of just ENHANCED.  Just think where would you all be now? So stop the whine and bring out the wine, pronto!

What? You now have to use eServices to open your own winebox? Why did you not read the memo?


 
 


4 comments:

A Daring Adventure said...

Seriously?

For real?

Spouses/partners/family posted overseas can't ask for their own repairs to be fixed because they have to go through e-svcs... but can't because they're not the employee?

That sounds truly horrifying. A lot of folks travel! Or are often inaccessible!

Jill said...

You just hit the nail on my BIGGEST frustration here at post... so big I could write this in all caps!

Why not just do this eServices crap via the internet - and give the spouses a password to get in. We have things broken for days around here because my spouse can't get the work order in as soon as I request it.

Or better yet... have what we did in Israel. A dedicated e-mail address for spouses to send in work orders - with a dedicated admin asst who typed up the work orders, e-mailed them to the appropriate person, with a copy back to the spouse and employee to let them know which dept would be handling their request.

No muss, no fuss. Done whenever WE could get to the computer.

emplaid22 said...

Even better is the fact that officers are their own approvers in eServices, yet the two roles aren't merged (as far as I've experienced).

So not only do I have to prepare & submit the work request, I then have to click over to a different part of the software to approve my own request.

Then, of course, you can count on an email about 5 min later saying that you (surprise!) submitted a request and that you need to approve it.

Glad to know that we are all so well protected from our own doppelgangers!

Kelly Bembry Midura said...

Preach it, brother! Great post. I've been back in the States for six years, going out again next year, and I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that I'm going to have to do everything through my officer husband again. And, as a webmaster myself, I know just how easy it would be for State to make the Intranet more accesible to family members. They aren't doing it because they don't want to, PERIOD.