A grave case of mistaken identity

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Sunday, November 07, 1999

A grave case of mistaken identity

Dead man may rest knowing he's not deadbeat dad

By Dennis Romboy Deseret News staff writer

It might not be fair to call Caleb T. Hartley a deadbeat dad. But he certainly is dead. Has been for more than two years. Only someone forgot to tell the state of Utah. Hartley' daughter, Kay Dyches, found a letter from the Utah Department of Workforce Services in her father's post office box in Moroni, Sanpete County, last week. On the top right-hand corner in bold lettering it reads "Notice of Decision." "We have received information from the Office of Recovery Services (ORS) that you have now cooperated with child support or child care overpayment activities," the Oct. 28, 1999, missive reads. "The positive decision you have made regarding this activity will support your efforts in becoming self sufficient (sic)." Translation of governmentese: Congratulations! You're no longer considered a deadbeat dad. As far as Dyches knows, Recovery Services never had a case involving her father. In fact, her father and mother were divorced long before ORS even existed. Dyches said her parents parted company 40 years ago, when she, the oldest of four girls and two boys, was 18. Hartley never remarried. He died in a truck accident near Moroni in April 1997, at the age of 81, Dyches said. How the office even got Hartley's name is a mystery to his daughter. Joyce Allred, supervisor of Recovery Services' management audit unit, looked into precisely that question. Workforce Services had Hartley's name because at one point he apparently received food stamps and medical assistance, she said. He also had a six-digit case number. Initially, Allred suspected an inexplicable computer glitch linked Hartley's Workforce Services case to Recovery Services. But upon further review, she determined a child support worker inadvertently typed one wrong number of a six-digit case number into a computer. A letter was generated with Hartley's name on it rather than the name of the person for whom it was intended. "Clearly this does not pertain to this gentleman," Allred said, adding she can't recall ORS mailing a notice to a deceased person before. Although Dyches and her siblings had a good chuckle over the letter, she wonders about people working in state agencies. "It was a little goof-up that they did that's indicative of government," she said. Dyches finds it ironic that Recovery Services sent a letter to her dead father but can't seem to track down her ex-son-in-law even though her daughter located him herself and informed the state of his whereabouts. "I don't think we've got much hope with government," she said.

-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), November 09, 1999


" ... an inexplicable computer glitch ... she wonders about people working in state agencies ... "I don't think we've got much hope with government" ...


-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), November 09, 1999.

---there was just another horrible computer/bad, incompetent state employee snafu here that caused the tragic death of a young boy in the atlanta area. despite FIVE reports to dfacs, and hospital visits, this little boy was finally murdered by his guardians. he fell through the cracks, after suffering bona fide torture for his entire life. Now he's dead. to me, this is a graphic example of "fix on failure', and why that philosophy is so very flawed.

-- zog (zzoggy@yahoo.com), November 10, 1999.

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