Friday, March 03, 2006

MSHA: The Dog Ate My Homework

I may be an old geezer, but I've got teenage kids who keep me up with the times. One thing I've learned from them is that "my computer wasn't working" has taken over for the old "my dog ate my homework" excuse.

Well, one thing you have to say for MSHA is that they're current with their excuses.

After the NY Times revealed today that MSHA had failed to refer over $16 million in outstanding delinquent fines to the Treasury Department as is supposed to occur after 180 days, David Dye, the acting director of the mine agency, said computer problems at the mine agency and Treasury were to blame.

But it seems Dye forgot to run his alibi by Treasury officials:
Martin Mills, assistant commissioner for debt management services at Treasury, said there have been instances since the spring when Treasury told other agencies not to refer debts for collection due to a switch in computer systems.

Mills said that the longest such period lasted about a month. He said the computer system is now working and Treasury is receiving debt referrals. Mills said his agency's efforts yielded record collections of about $3.2 billion last year.

"If they had a problem, they should have been talking with us," Mills said of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. ''To my knowledge, they have not been."