08.30.2011 0

Department of Labor iPhone app not meant to be helpful, just accurate…

The Department of Big LaborBy Rebecca DiFede — Upon entering the Itunes App Store, a plethora of applications doing everything from finding the cheapest gas station to filing your tax return await you. And among these addiction-worthy apps there is one designed by the Department of Labor to help workers or their employers properly calculate their wages. The concept sounds simple enough however there is just one problem: the app doesn’t work.

The wages calculated by the app are not on par with the records kept by their employer and as such are essentially useless pieces of information. The app “improperly excludes certain breaks for the total”, according to Americans For Limited Government (ALG)’s Nathan Mehrens in his opinion column printed in the Washington Examiner.

Mehrens goes on to explain that since the law requires employees to be paid for their short mid-shift breaks, and the app does not include them as time worked because of a flaw in its design, it therefore skews the wage data and makes it grossly inaccurate. The best part? It cost American taxpayers $50,000 to produce.

In a nutshell, the DOL spent $50,000 of taxpayer’s money to create and design an iphone app that is literally useless. Bravo, Labor Secretary Solis.  Bravo.

In response to an Americans for Limited Government Freedom of Information Act request, the Obama Labor Department responded that the app “was too difficult to program so we just let any break be deducted and felt the disclaimer would explain…as you know, it was impossible to address every scenario in this app. This is just meant as a reference tool…it was not meant to take place of official records that employers are required to keep.”

In layman’s terms, officials at the Department of Labor admit that their regulations were too complex to program into the app, so they just gerry-rigged it, figuring a miniscule ‘disclaimer’ would alleviate any issues or disputes that arose from the use of the app. However this statement does raise eyebrows though as it differs quite strongly from the description of the app in the DOL’s release, which appears to say the exact opposite.

According to the release “this new technology is significant because, instead of relying on their employers’ records, workers now can keep their own records. This information could prove invaluable during a Wage and Hour Division investigation when an employer has failed to maintain accurate employment records.” Wait, I’m sorry. What?

What about when the Department of Labor wastes money on a wage-calculating phone application that can’t even accurately calculate someone’s wages which, if memory serves, is its sole function? What is the punishment for utter, complete and infuriating incompetence?

Apparently, its green lights from Android and Blackberry to begin work on compatible (albeit useless) apps for their phones as well.

By their own admission, the DOL’s application is the technology that is going to change the way businesses are run and wages are collected. However, also by their own admission, once that qualifier was shown to be faulty, they retorted. Saying that it wasn’t meant to be completely accurate, no,  just a guiding force to allow workers to discuss their wages with their employees.

Right. And the speed limit is just a guiding force for drivers who don’t really have anywhere to go.

The idiocy in all of this is the contradiction that is straight from the [work] horse’s mouth. It appears that the app is only accurate if you aren’t concerned with having up-to-date information about the money you’re making, and really why would anyone want to keep track of that? It’s not like employees would try and take advantage of their employers or anything.

Rebecca DiFede is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.

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