Friday, April 19, 2002

Fish, Wildlife & Parks Hits Cyberspace

...And none too soon, FWP joins the ranks of government agencies who have moved into the technological revolution. Though arguably four or five years behind the times, FWP introduced its Automatic Licensing System last week to allow hunters and fishermen to expedite the procurement of licenses. Turns out, surprisingly, that FWP did not hire the most capable of engineers for their endeavor maddening hunters all over the state who attempted to buy licenses and had to wait for hours instead of minutes, some going home without a license at all. Now I know that in Montana, we are busy spending our government money on bodyguards for our beloved governor, but I think we might have invested in this project a little more carefully. Or perhaps left the system alone.
In the old days, licensing required the horribly tedious process of writing down the name, address, and phone number of the hunter or fisher and providing a receipt to him or her. Instead, they now get to wait for up to two hours for the state computer system to crank out a receipt and add this information to a database. I am sure there must be some bizarre use for this hunting license information. Unlike Astrology.com, the state of Montana does not send out yearly invites for hunters and fishers nor do I see how that information could be remotely useful in database form. FWP is demanding that people issuing the licenses keep a separate phone line for license transactions. It is a miracle that there is even one phone line 22 miles up the Boulder drainage, where I spend my summers, but FWP has not provided any info on how a second phone line could be put in or even be funded by a small non-profit organization like ours and others along the drainage. I suppose, this summer, the fishing license signs will start to come down causing even more distaste. No matter, FWP says they have to give their customers some time to get used to the "burn in" period while everything goes wrong, in order to instill confidence in the system. I think most people are just plain mad and want those paper licenses back.
Case in point, this morning's paper carried a story about a Thompson Falls man who got so fed up with being charged for incomplete licenses that he shot the computer with a 20-gauge shotgun.
But budgetary waste is evident in a state where dinosaurs still seem to be roaming around. If you don't believe me, just check out more from FWP and read this useful little article on becoming an outdoor woman. When you get stuck in the snow, you should yell oopsie and men will teach you how to cook outdoors, just in case you have never been out of doors before and need to resume your duties. Fitting in a state where the governor’s husband has "never beaten her because [she has] never given him a reason to."

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