Who Did You Sleep With To Get This Job?

With all the money that is spent, why is it so hard for government to demonstrate even an acceptable level of competence when it comes to technology? I’ve long ago given up hope that they could provide something that would make me go “wow” but, jeez people, can’t you get the basics right?

At The OpenNMS Group we get paid once a month, and today I’m running payroll. This is the first payroll with our 401K deductions, so it is a little more involved than usual, but it doesn’t tend to take me very long.

Our business is headquartered in the state of North Carolina, so I have to deposit withholding taxes each month. I usually do this online, but when I went to the site today I see this message:

Okay. Cool, new services. How bad can it be? Well, pretty bad. When I go to register on NCID the first thing I see is:

I’m not sure why Verisign isn’t a recognized root certificate authority, but it looks valid so I’ll soldier on.

Now the next thing I get is:

What? In this day and age I don’t expect every web application to support every browser perfectly, but it should support every standards compliant browser and at least Firefox well enough for something like this. Since Internet Explorer is Windows only, I need to write the North Carolina State government to ask for my free copy of Windows so that I can use the services that my tax dollars helped create. Sheesh.

But considering the level of competence displayed by the designers of this abomination, I’m going to assume that there is nothing that really requires IE but that they were too lazy to test it using other browsers, so I’ll see what happens.

Well, about halfway through the registration process I get this error:

Great. This system is going to be the only way of paying my taxes electronically in a week and this is how well it has been tested. Although 500 errors indicate something is wrong with the server, I’ve seen with OpenNMS cases where IE rendered relative links differently than every other browser, and even though I filled out submitted a form to report the bug I’m sure the answer will be to blame Safari.

I did manage to get an NCID, and when I went to logout I got:

Close the browser? Why? Does the application not clean up after itself?

What’s even funnier (in a sad, developing into maniacal laughter sort of way) is if you hit the “exit” button you get:

No wonder people have no faith in government anymore. One would assume with all of the web programming talent available in the area they would be able to get someone who knew what they were doing. Of course for a website like NCID you’d want to use only the best technology, like, say, FrontPage:

	<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en-us">
	<meta name="GENERATOR" content="Microsoft FrontPage 6.0">
	<meta name="ProgId" content="FrontPage.Editor.Document">
	<META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Type" CONTENT="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

Gaaaaah! I assume it was some politician’s relative with a copy of Frontpage for Dummies that won the bid.

I’m going back to mailing in my tax check. They’re only going to waste it anyway.