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A True Error, Not a Glitch Tue 28 Jul 09

Baytown Mayor Admits Error In Release Of Banking Info

I've written recently about The Real Problem With Computer Glitches.  Computer glitches are when something goes wrong but we don't talk abut someone making a mistake or a bad process being used.  Something just happened without human intervention (yeh, right).  I followed that up with a comment an Another Glitch regarding Goveronor Scharzenegger and a computer glitch that kept a law student from taking the bar exam.

Red light camera warning fringehog Although I don't want to beat this subject to death I just have to comment about an article I saw in today's Houston Chronicle, Baytown releases banking info for 10,000 by mistake.  It seems that some how banking information about 10,000 people that paid tickets after being caught by a red light camera.  What was interesting was how this was portrayed. 

First, there was no attempt to dismiss this as a just a glitch.  The story quotes the mayor as saying “It was error on our part and we've done everything we can to correct it, and notify anyone whose information was released,“  How refreshing, a simple acknowledgement that they made a mistake and were attempting to correct it.

Second, there were consequences for making the mistake.  In this instance the city clerk responsible for releasing this information resigned.  I'm glad to hear there were some consequences but I don't know if resignation was warranted.  Disciplinary actions for a mistake are not always the best approach.  However, I'm hesitant to make that judgement based solely on the information provided in the article.

Third, the article hinted at the need for thorough corrective actions of the root cause when it quoted Jay Foley, executive director of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego saying, “This is a clear-cut example why cities should have a plan for dealing for information they collect. They are responding to a normal request — what they didn't pay attention to was the nature of information they supplied,"  It would have been better if the city acknowledged this but I'm happy to at least see this opinion voiced.

This may not be the best example of how errors should be handled but it's a start.

How do you think they should have handled it?

"Red Light Camera Warning" by fringehog

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