Department of Defense Fax Machine That Receives FOIA Requests is Broken

imagesLooks like someone’s getting a STAPLES gift card in his kevlar-lined stocking this Christmas.

Via MuckRock:

Starting two weeks ago, requests faxed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) started coming back as undeliverable. After several subsequent attempts and troubleshooting on our end, MuckRock reached out to the OSD. Sure enough, their fax machine is down… possibly until November.

Now, in 2013, you wouldn’t think this would be an issue. But when an agency accepts FOIA requests by a) fax, b) mail or c) a clunky online request portal that doesn’t play nice with other systems, suddenly that fax machine becomes a technical linchpin.

It bears repeating: The office that oversees the most powerful military in history (not to mention the best-funded) is unable to project when its single fax machine will once again be operational.

The OSD’s FOIA section chief confirmed the grim news yesterday, responding that his office “will likely need to procure (purchase) a new fax machine. However, that purchase will not occur until the start of the new fiscal year (at the earliest).”

Keep reading.

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  • Haystack

    Maybe Navy Seal Team Six can try turning it off and on?

    • Cortacespedes

      Yes, they should try giggling the “toggle”, that usually works.

  • Cortacespedes

    Fax machine? What is this antiquation of which you speak? Good lord man, you’re using words that only make sense to Monty Burns. I suppose the Telex network is still serviceable?

    I shall dust off my trusty teletype machine and forward a few dozen requests using that channel then.

    • BuzzCoastin

      most government agencies
      state & feds
      aren’t even state of the art Internet 1999
      and the fax machine (invented in the late 1890′s)
      is still a main tool for government tools

  • InfvoCuernos

    Is it really broke, or do they just think its broke because all it sends are page after page of black “redacted” stripes?

  • BuzzCoastin

    now if it was fax machine that bombed Syria
    it’d be state of the art and always working

  • Guest

    This is how it works: The gov’t is no different than private enterprise in that it attempts to avoid meaningful change in it’s operations. The difference is that the gov’t budget is more heavily scrutinized and they have less employees with lower pay and lower competence. Ironically, the latter is only because they don’t have the staff to review and respond to resumes before the private sector gets to them. The standard practice in both sectors is when you receive new funding in October, blow as much of it as you can as fast as you can. Then, in summer, stop spending on anything and start firing. That $31B for O&M? Yeah, definitely not going to some back-end gov’t office. Probably new BMW motorcycles for parking lot security (true story). Eventually this will be upgraded by being overcharged by a private contractor for a new software system, which will need to be tweaked for each purpose, repurchased yearly, repaired exclusively by said contractor, and upgraded constantly to be compatible with a million other things upgrades. I estimate the downtime would be the same. And you can’t file a FOIA request about business with private contractors (proprietary info is exempt). In the end, the request process would be easier, but wouldn’t make any difference since they still lack the manpower to process them. Institutions suck.

  • Ted Heistman

    Bad sign. This sounds like something the Old Soviets would do/say back in the eighties.

  • howiebledsoe

    Try plugging it in, guys.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Inspiring all sorts of confidence up in this bitch.

  • DeepCough

    What do you call a fax machine owned by a government office?

    A giant paperweight.