Letter to the Editor

Regarding "Feds embrace NFC service" [Federal Computer Week, April 23, 2001]: Beware of the "paperless system"!

My bank decided to discontinue its policy of returning canceled checks for all but the customer's primary account. On one memorable occasion, a check was cashed for more than its written value. This account's checkbook didn't balance during a quick perusal and verification. This was, supposedly, a "store error." Without the evidence of an actual check or a sales receipt, I would have been hard-pressed to prove it wasn't a consumer error.

During two other accounting periods, the bank subtracted funds that weren't written on that account. In fact, the returned-to-me canceled checks were written under someone else's name, account number and from a non-affiliated bank. I kept these checks — as a "believe it or not" file — after my account was corrected.

Many years ago, my Navy Department agency switched payroll offices. The employees were told to save their last pay stub until retirement, because the accumulated retirement contributions wouldn't "roll over" into the new payroll system. Sure enough, the first new pay stub only documented the reported pay period's deduction.

I hear the DON is being coerced into "joining" the Defense Joint Accounting System. Will the close-out of the present system call for another save-until-retirement pay stub? Or, will the DJAS roll over both retirement contribution accumulations and "jump start" the first reported-pay-period's deduction? Hold onto your pay stubs, ladies and gentlemen!

What security and accountability will DJAS provide to retiring or departing (quit/fired/transferred outside of DJAS) employees? Will these employees be permitted to use DOD computers to access applicable, used-to-be-printed, earnings-and-leave statement information? Will a printed, "close-out," earnings-and-leave statement be provided to every employee after all leave-usage and fund-reimbursement or -depletion activities have ceased?

One more thing: Hackers have been acknowledged as entering many federal government and private industry Web sites. I have never heard of hackers entering non-Web accounting systems.

Joe Walsh

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