What We Have Is A Failure To Communicate by Jack Swint
“As things developed yesterday… the problem was campaigns were not told in advance what file type they would need to upload, what the contingency plan would be should something go wrong, would technical support be available after business hours given the reporting deadline was midnight, etc.”
Friday, April 1st, 2011 was the final day for all of the candidates running for governor to file their primary first financial reports to the Secretary of State’s Office. Reportedly, Natalie Tennant is requiring all of the candidates to file their reports electronically. And, if they were not filed by midnight on April 1st, then that candidate would be in non-compliance.
As of Friday at noon, several of the candidate’s campaign offices told this author that they were still unable to upload their financial statements because the computer system at the SOS keeps “crashing” each time they try. The size of the files trying to be uploaded were anywhere from 4 to 50+ pages.
What was the technology problem causing files not to be uploaded to the SOS? Campaigns were not told the file type they would need to upload their reports until Friday, which is the deadline.
Sources told us that Jess Johnson, Rick Thompson and Betty Ireland were experiencing the same type trouble trying to upload their files. One staffer said…“We were told that their office (SOS) would not accept ‘hard copies’ to be hand delivered or date stamped in the mail by April 1, 2011.” Yet, a Charleston newspaper reporter was told by a staffer in Tennants office that, “Today (Friday) is postmark deadline for finance reports." And “that they had to be post-marked.”
According to one source, “the problem was, campaigns were not told in advance what file type they would need to upload, what the contingency plan would be should something go wrong, would technical support be available after business hours given the reporting deadline was midnight, etc. We had been calling the WVSOS for 6 weeks to determine the file type they would need, etc. After calling numerous times and speaking with multiple people in various divisions, YESTERDAY (Friday) morning we finally were able to get answers for the SOS's Office.”
In one campaign headquarters, it was coming down to a lot of frustration and helplessness. “We were on the phone (Friday) and received conflicting answers every time we spoke to a different person.”
Betty Irelands office reported that the SOS's General Counsel finally returned repeated calls to answer their questions on the problems they to were experiencing. But that appeared to be confusing because, “we could hear someone in the background telling him what to say.” Keep in mind; this was after getting conflicting answers or no answers at all from this office on the final day of the reporting period. “We were not trying to be difficult; we just couldn't get a straight answer from the SOS's Office.”
Later Friday afternoon, after the influx of calls and complaints to the SOS office from campaigns, they made several changes on their website to better help campaigns in filing. They also offered tech support until 9pm.
We learned Saturday April 2nd that, campaigns were finally able to upload their reports by the deadline after learning the correct file type from the SOS office.
The four campaign offices we spoke with all said they had their reports ready and ahead of the deadline, they just could not get them uploaded to the SOS’s database. And, that it was never an option to either mail or hand deliver the documents to Tennants office.
Bottom line, Tennants office did not do a very good job of communicating with the campaigns in advance and or provide a contingency plan on their website. It appears that a simple notification of what type file needed to be used to upload the reports was never communicated to all of the campaigns.
Or, as one frustrated campaign staffer said off the record… “Apparently our Secretary of State has been so busy developing her plan to be governor that she's not had time to complete the sworn duties of the office she currently holds.”
End Of Story
Jack Swint – Publisher
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