Alaska Fund computer blamed for delay : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Article last updated: Friday, March 31, 2000 5:37 AM MST Fund computer blamed for delay in notification By JASON SOIFER Staff Writer

A new computer system at the Alaska Permanent Fund and a barrage of last-minute dividend applications have created a delay that has some residents concerned about the status of their paperwork.

Lynn Pett of Delta Junction said she mailed her application in early March and still has not received the confirmation postcard. And, she said, reaching someone at the Fairbanks permanent fund office by telephone has proved nearly impossible.

"It makes me wonder what is going on with their computer system," she said.

Nanci Jones, director of the dividend program, said that implementing a new computer program and training people to use it has put the division two weeks behind schedule.

"It's moving along fast, but unfortunately at this late date it's not moving fast enough," Jones said.

Today is the deadline for people to submit their application.

Jones said the permanent fund has over 550,000 applications and is processing about 30,000 each day. She said once the applications are entered into the new system, a postcard receipt is automatically printed out and sent to residents.

Residents who filed before Feb. 28, can check the status of their application on the Internet ( Information on applications submitted after that date might not be on the system yet.

Jones said she is also aware of the large volume of unanswered phone calls to permanent fund offices.

In Fairbanks the phone system is set up to handle four callers at a time, Jones said. While two callers are helped by permanent fund employees, two others can be placed on hold. Any other calls roll to the next available operator in the Anchorage office and then in the Juneau office before the callers hear a recorded message asking them to call back later.

Jones said callers wait an average of six minutes on the phone. She said the hold time could be extended, but she figures a caller who knows within a few minutes that all circuits are busy can hang up, go about their day and try back later.

"The alternative is to have people wait on the phone for a very long time, which we don't think is very beneficial," she said.

Jones said the Fairbanks permanent fund office receives nearly 200 calls a day from residents. She said that in the future the division will consider hiring temporary workers to help with the last-minute load.

People having problems with filing an application on-line can call the permanent fund in Juneau at 465-4771 after 5 p.m. Information is also available at the Fairbanks permanent fund office, located at 751 Old Richardson Highway. The office closes at 4:30 p.m. today.

-- Martin Thompson (, March 31, 2000

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