Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ohio's pilot hunt/fish license system a really slow boat to China

Even though it was early afternoon with little shopping foot traffic, a line of customers was beginning to form behind me at the check-out counter of Gander Mountain’s Mentor store.

Trying to do my best to avoid the gaze from the anxiously awaiting customers, I focused instead on what the sales clerk was doing for me. That being, issuing an antlerless-only deer-hunting permit.

No biggie there, but for one thing. The issuance was electronically motivated, data entered and the document spat out. Eventually, anyway. Maybe even before the start of the firearms deer-hunting season.

It was all a brand-spanking new way for the state to provide me with the proper documentation. If only it wasn’t slower than poured molasses on a cold January morning.

Gander Mountain’s Mentor store ranks sixth in the number of hunting/fishing licenses sold in Ohio. As such, the store was selected as one of about 75 or so other issuing agents to be lab rats for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s $16 million Wild Ohio Customer Relationship Management System. It will replace the agency’s existing point-of-sales issuing system, effective March 1, 2011.

The rub comes from the deathly unhurried way the “new-and-improved” $16 million system was gorging itself on the supplied data and then being so kind as to type up the actual paper permit.

Have I said yet that the system is going to eat up $16 million of the state’s hunters’ and anglers’ dollars?

Slow is not the word with even the sales clerk noting through a forced smile that no permit issued by the store has seen the light of day in anything resembling an acceptable period of waiting time.

So what is the solution being offered by officials with the Wildlife Division to counter the tardy way the new $16 million system issues documents?

“Buy licenses and permits early to avoid lines.”

That’s it? Really? Seriously? The Wildlife Division's best answer is to head to the nearest license sales outlet before anyone else in order to beat the crowds?

That’s sort of like sleeping on an outlet mall’s sidewalk so you can take advantage of Black Friday pre-holiday sales.

Fact is, the Wildlife Division has collected onto itself a new $16 million system that produces an inferior-delivered product.

To make matters worse I literally had to look over the sales attendant’s shoulder as the person set about entering my personal information. There was no alternative for requiring this hawk-eye view, either.

Otherwise the record would have shown that my name wasn’t the same that I had inherited at birth and my Social Security number didn’t match the one issued to me by the federal government a long time ago. Had to keep an eye out for those misspellings and typos, you know.

Consequently, I quiver to think what’s going to happen toward the end of next week when a large volume of general hunting licenses and deer permits are sold. Imagine a long line of toe-tapping, less-than-enthralled holiday shoppers standing behind an equally anxious hunter; all held hostage by a slower-than-a-tortoise license-issuing system.

One that will cost Ohio's hunters and anglers $16 million, too.

And I shudder when I ponder the implications when the new $16 million system takes a full-nelson hold March 1 on not only the selling of required licenses and permits but also on the way Ohio deer and turkey hunters check in their respective kills.

Maybe the bugs can be worked out on the new $16 million license-issuing system. And maybe the firm that designed the system’s software and such can learn from what the 75 pilot agents are discovering.

But to turn a quote regularly given by a famous American politician: This is not a change that I can believe in.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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