The Most Powerful Military in the World Struggles to Track Down a Working Fax Machine

Great! Now they'll get an answer in two or three years!Andrew.T@NN / Foter / CC BY-NC-SAIn the sort of absurd story that truly highlights how much the federal government really cares about communicating with its alleged public masters and complying with public records requests, for a couple of weeks now, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) did not have a working fax machine to send in Freedom of Information Act requests.

MuckRock, a site-slash-service that helps citizens and journalists file records requests, discovered the problem when their requests started bouncing back. They were told the OSD's fax machine wasn’t working, and it didn’t seem like there was a whole lot of energy devoted to fixing the problem:

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)."

That would be sometime in October or even November. Without the fax machine, requests had to either be mailed conventionally or submitted through their rather awkward web submission system. E-mailing a request is not an option.

In response, some of MuckRock’s users joked about putting together a Kickstarter campaign to get the OSD a new fax machine. But yesterday, the site was informed that somehow, somewhere the industrious folks at the OSD managed to track down a working fax machine. Problem solved!

MuckRock has responded by putting in a FOIA request for the OSD’s office equipment inventory and annual budget.

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  • William of Purple||

    E-mailing a request is not an option.

    WHY the hell not

  • WTF||

    FYTW

  • Pro Libertate||

    Plausible fuckyouability.

  • sarcasmic||

    Security.

  • From the Tundra||

    Nice.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm serious. That email account could be anyone. Unless you've got a trusted digitally signed certificate attached to your email proving that it is indeed you, then they can't trust that you are who you say you are. That account could belong to anyone. So no emailing.

  • Jordan||

    they can't trust that you are who you say you are

    That applies to fax and snail mail too...

  • anon||

    But Sarcasmic, who would ever claim to be someone they aren't on teh internets?

    Why, just the other day I got an email from a friend that I had just seen at dinner asking me for a few grand to get back from Haiti...

  • Bryan C||

    Well, sure. But in the context of a FOIA request, what difference would it make?

  • Spartacus||

    It's the sequester's fault.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Obviously so.

  • anon||

    To be fair, I always had trouble with that arcane technology when it was prevalent; if I couldn't get them to work at their peak, I doubt I could get one anywhere to work today.

    What kind of asshole sends faxes anyways?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Most of our customers prefer invoices to be faxed. They don't get lost in somebody's email account that way.

  • anon||

    You should point your customers to the little search function in their email.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    What the customers want, they get. And if it causes them to pay faster, then I'll happily comply.

  • sarcasmic||

    I ended up using the fax machine here at work a lot when I was buying my house.

  • R C Dean||

    The funny thing is, I can send and receive faxes from my computer. Scan the document, and fax it from here.

    Most fax machines these days are scanners and printers, too. I'm not seeing any difference between scanning and emailing a document that will be printed off a multi-function machine, and scanning and "faxing" a document that will be printed off a multi-function machine. Either way, I'm feeding it to the same machine here, its electronically transmitted, and its printed off the same machine there.

    The email option actually creates a nice permanent record of exactly what was sent, when, by whom and to whom, so its a superior option.

  • sarcasmic||

    At the time I didn't have a land line, so I couldn't use my printer as a fax.

  • DJF||

    After they get it they will have to put out a seperate contract to hire someone to stop the clock from flashing 12:00.

  • ||

    HAHAHAHAHA

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    I wish I could gambol down the halls of the Pentagon, merrily handing out pink slips to everyone even remotely involved with this stupidity....and then I would move on to the excess flag officers, USDs and ASDs.

  • DJF||

    While your at it fire anyone who has been “working” on a procurement program for more then ten years without actually procuring anything.

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    Make it 2 years and you have a deal!

  • DJF||

    I was going to start at ten years and then work it down to the length of time that the US was in WW2.

  • Brett L||

    You know this got solved by some E5 saying, "get that shit off the front page. Grab $50 out of petty cash, go to Office Max and buy a fucking fax machine. Now."

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    Or said E-5 walked down the hall, opened a closet, took out a fax machine, brought it back, plugged it in and sighed deeply.

  • Bryan C||

    And kept the $50.

  • Lord Humungus||

    I send about one fax a year - usually to GM corporate who uh, still likes to do things "the old fashioned way"

  • anon||

    So, in other words, he doesn't understand how to check his email?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    They probably had to source the fax machine from an 8(a) black female disabled veteran small business owner living and working in a HUB Zone. That requires 47 pages of paperwork along with fair trade coffee for the purchasing agents on their morning break.

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    +1 twenty-seven B stroke six

  • Marc F Cheney||

    MuckRock has responded by putting in a FOIA request for the OSD’s office equipment inventory and annual budget.

    Now that's some quality trolling.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Agreed. 1 million internets to those guys.

  • anon||

    Goddamnit, I am jealous of their brilliance.

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    And just think of the fun they can have if DoD delays the answer.

  • Archduke of Pantsfan||

    My brother was in another Province for a job, and to get his Driver's Abstract, he had to FAX in his request and they would FAX it back 5 days later.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    "Province"? *narrows eyes suspiciously*

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, I've heard of this before. Some sort of political unit in the Soviet system, I believe.

  • DJF||

    When did they start letting foreigners on the internets?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think some are able to hack in through complicated measures, but how many could that be? Couple hundred?

  • Sevo||

    Hey, let's take up a collection!

  • UnCivilServant||

    Given my experiences with Government Procurement, this is not abnormal.

  • DJF||

    They could buy it at the end of the fiscal year spending spree, but no that is for things that the bosses want like comphy chairs, not for things that are needed.

  • UnCivilServant||

    We don't get one of those, the procurement people push back harder near the fiscal year transition because they don't want to spend money on things we need instead of ... I don't know where the agency's money goes.

  • ||

    The Most Powerful Military in the World Struggles to Track Down a Working Fax Machine

    I hear they don't have any horse drawn carriages or 8 track tape players either. Bastards are just stiff arming my requests.

  • Jordan||

    Fax machines are still alive and well.

  • Brett L||

    They do have horse drawn carriages. At least the Army unit at Arlington does. Also, if they require something to be done via 8-track, they damn well better have some.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Caissons, Brett L, caissons. Only a pimp from a cheap New Orleans whorehouse would ride in a carriage.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Just the fax, ma'am.

  • playa manhattan||

    WHERE IS JESSE'S HAT TIP?

  • ||

    At least someone cares!

    *runs out of room sobbing*

  • playa manhattan||

    You linked to this twice right? The original plus a follow up?

  • ||

    I don't recall, so I'm going to assume I just posted the update.

  • ||

    You should have faxed it.

  • ||

    And yet we were told we have to develop mobile versions of our web sites for all devices. All. Including 10-year-old flip-phones.

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    KK, I wish you had been working on the O!care exchanges - you could have broken news (eventually) AND unleashed some epic blasts like you did when working on that last, great O! website.

  • Loki||

    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)."

    SEKWESTERGEDDON!!!!11!!!111!!!

  • Bryan C||

    These are the times that try men's souls.

  • ChrisO||

    I'm sure this technical incompetence does not extend to the actual machinery used to defend our country. Not in any way at all.

  • BuSab Agent||

    As a former maintenance technician in the Navy, yes, yes it does. I remember vital systems being down for days because the broken cards were coded DLR (depot level repairable) which meant that by the regs they had to be sent off ship for repair. However, these same cards were also coded obsolete, so if you actually sent one to the depot, the depot would promptly throw it away. Many many things were repaired secretly in locked rooms.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    The Most Powerful Military in the World Struggles to Track Down a Working Fax Machine

    Okay, I am really getting sick of all this sucking up. Yes, the Broncos should be pretty good this year, but they hardly qualify as the world's most powerful military.

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