Thursday, March 21, 2013

It Is a Conspiracy, I Tell Ya

Trey Smith

You know how conspiracy theories come about? It is when the official explanation appears to have holes in it OR there is no official explanation. When information is deemed inadequate or lacking, people try to fill in the gaps themselves.

Della finds herself in this position re AmeriCorps. There are some odd things going on and, try as we might, no one is sharing any information. This lack of transparency makes me a tad bit suspicious.

When Della signed her Service Agreement, her term of service is listed as 1/16 - 7/15/13, a 6-month term. However, when she logs into her My AmeriCorps page, it lists her end of service date as 1/15/14. That is a discrepancy of 6 months!

The date listed on the site doesn't make any sense. Why? Because volunteers serving in AmeriCorps State/National -- the program that Della is in -- serve for a maximum of 10.5 months. So, if she began service on 1/16/13, the longest her term could last would be until 11/30/13. Volunteers who sign on to AmeriCorps VISTA, on the other hand, serve for 12 months.

Though both of us have communicated with several people about this discrepancy, no one to date has explained why the end date on her My AmeriCorps home page is incorrect and, more importantly, the incorrect date has not been changed. We have been talking to people about this problem for 2 weeks. The reason why it is so important to get this date changed is that, until it is done, Della can't apply for positions that begin this Fall. The automated system won't allow her to apply to anything because it believes she will still be serving in White Salmon at that time.

If that wasn't enough, we now have a second issue. On Monday, Della received an automated email advising her that her Exit Form has been added to her My AmeriCorps page. Exit Forms automatically are posted 30 days before the anticipated end of service date. If you will recall from above, Della's Service Agreement puts her last day as July 15. March 18 is not 30 days before that date.

Because my wife is sick with a sinus infection and laryngitis, I have taken the lead in trying to find out why she received the exit form at this time. I have emailed her project supervisor -- who has not responded -- and today I called the National Service Hotline. The person I spoke with couldn't explain much of anything -- He said he had no clue. He said a supervisor would call me back in a few hours and, of course, no one called me back.

While the first issue is aggravating, the second issue is more alarming. All someone needs to do is communicate with Della (or me) via phone, email or text to say that the posting of the exit form represents some sort of glitch and to disregard it. No one has done that. I even asked the fellow at the Hotline if we should disregard it and he wouldn't go that far.

So, it makes me wonder: What in the hell is going on here? Is something going on behind the scenes that we don't know about? Is Della getting bounced out of the program 3 months early or is this just a case of typical bureaucratic disorganization? It could be one or the other...or something else entirely.

We are suspicious simply because no one seems forthcoming with any substantive information and, though we have alerted several people to these discrepancies, nothing has been changed and the discrepancies remain in place.

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