Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Bureaucratic Inertia


The NYC Department of Education Office of Web Services runs official school “portals,” which are websites within the domain for each school in the system but are in practice little more than static webpages with a list of phone numbers – web pages, consequently, that cannot be substantively changed except via e-mailed request to the OWS from the principal’s DoE account, which takes four to six weeks. Needless to say, in internet terms, four to six weeks is a lifetime.

So my school decided to strike out on its own and hire a private vendor that specializes in making NYC public school websites. We paid them and handed them the domain we’d purchased for the purpose, which had previously been used merely as a placeholder that redirected to said portal. They built our website. It works perfectly… expect on school computers. The DoE blocked our school website, which they can do because all school computers must use a DoE proxy to get online. The domain simply won’t resolve.

Why? Because we used to redirect our domain – which, to reiterate, we purchased on our own – to the DoE portal, which means contacting OWS and advising them of the change and requesting that they stop the blocks. This means waiting four to six weeks for an answer. Mind you, they have no direct phone numbers – even the DoE IT office cannot directly contact them.

Meanwhile, updating and maintaining the new website must be done off-campus, so to speak, which means not on paid time. The vendor offered to buy a fresh domain, but that would mean shuffling our Google Apps account, tied to a subdomain on the same URL, which still works perfectly fine for no other reason than because it was never redirected to the DoE portal.

I cannot immediately recall a more perfect example of a faceless, capricious, unresponsive bureaucratic inertia.

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