Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New license issuing system working, though not perfectly

With one week under its belt, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is working to refine its new $16 million Internet-based license-issuing system.

And there are still snags in the fabric that hook the system the way Velcro can tangle a loose piece of clothing.

Between February 15 and Monday the state has issued 1,175 licenses, permits and tags. Most were for fishing licenses though some folks like me bought their hunting license along with a waterfowl permit. Some 13 percent of these documents were issued via the agency’s Internet (e-commerce) website.

Lake County saw 229 documents sold. Among them were 137 resident fishing licenses and even two antlerless-only tags as well as six shooting range permits and two fall turkey hunting permits. Value was $2,921, less $162 in agent issuing fees.

In Geauga County, the state sold 81 documents with - interestingly - 10 of them being either-sex deer tags. Total sales were $874, less $37 for agent issuing fees.

In all for the seven-day period there were 92 documents sold in Ashtabula County of which 51 were for resident fishing licenses. The state even sold one duplicate license in Ashtabula County as well as two either-sex deer tags. Total sales were $1,486, less $78 for the agent fee.

Cuyahoga County saw the sale of 358 documents that totaled $4,026, less $228 in agent issuing fees.

Korey Brown, the Wildlife Division’s administrator in charge of the new license-issuing system, says the program has had some snafus but "more positives than negative.”

As a personal aside, I visited Gander Mountain’s Mentor Store this afternoon and bought my resident fishing and hunting licenses as well as waterfowl permit. Each were printed on separate sheets of paper which I understand was not suppose to have happened.

Further, the documents are somewhat ambiguous as to what can be tossed aside and what perforated parts need to be kept.

Brown said that is an issue that can be looked into as as well as the one dealing with the toll-free telephone number required to be accessed in order to obtain a HIP identification number to go with the permit. The required call moves along at a goodly clip that required close attention and two repeats before I was comfortable with writing down the correct lengthy HIP number.

Likewise I was VERY uncomfortable as the clerk typed in my driver's license number that was visible to the persons behind me who were awaiting to make actual store purchases.

I shudder to think how even more uncomfortable I’d have been had I instead provided my Social Security number.

While we’re at it, the two customers were none too happy with the time it took for the clerk to issue the documents to me; perhaps a portend of what’s in store when the state sells its largest volumes of licenses, permits and tags

Or perhaps worse on opening day of the firearms deer-hunting season when tens of thousands of successful hunters access the system to check in their respective kills.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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