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calendar   Monday - January 26, 2009

Process Improvement

This kind of thing is what I used to do for a living, back when I was working in IT. Any big business runs on rules. These are the rules that tell each worker what to do and how to do it. They are called Processes. Processes are quite similar to computer code; if you can write efficient programs you can do process analysis and improvement. Many is the meeting I attended where the conversations went “You must follow the process!” “Yes, but the process sucks!”. So Process Improvement was born. I’m not going to get into the BS aspects of it, worthless things like CMM and Continuous Quality Improvement and ISO 9000 and other false metrics and standards that allowed a small group of PI “engineers” to draw fat paychecks, make a lot of noise, and actually accomplish nothing. I am going to focus on the honest core concept of PI: understand an existing process, analyze it for weaknesses, then put steps in place that eliminate or mitigate those weaknesses, then make sure that everyone understands what the new steps are. The best fixes are the ones that have both very low cost and very low change. Radical change upsets everyone, and huge costs upset everyone even more. The best kind of Process Improvement smooths out the bumps in the road and greases the rails, but it doesn’t change the direction of the tracks. Unless the tracks ran right off the edge of the cliff, but that’s a different story altogether.

My wife and I and a friend are going through the NJ firearms ID/pistol permit application process. Having once been PI people, we have the disease. Once you are trained to observe, analyze, and improve, it’s nearly impossible to not apply those skills to any situation life sends you. I think I’ve covered all the bases here, but I’m publishing what I have so far in hopes that others will read it, think it through, and respond with helpful analysis and suggestions.

I have developed a simple concept that will make this process better. Most of what is required is that each step of the process be receipted. Existing laws need to be told to the applicants, and one or two small gray areas within those laws need to be clarified. That’s all the grease necessary.

But hidden underneath everything is a radical concept: that government works for you AND is fiscally responsible to it’s citizens. When you apply for a state permit that has a fee attached to it, you are in effect hiring the government as a contractor to work for you to obtain the permit. You have the right to expect that this contractor properly do the work they are hired for, and to do it in the agreed time period. My process improvement document adds a small non-performance penalty, because the law that current exists that mandates a performance time window does not have a penalty associated with it. Laws without penalties have no teeth. They are worse than a waste of time; they are dishonest in nature because their existence is reassuring but there is no incentive for them to be followed. You can point the cart in the proper direction, but without a stick and a carrot the horse is never going to get you there.

And my suggestions should make Obama happy, since they do exactly what he wants to be done: improve the honesty, transparency, and efficiency of government. And restore people’s faith in that government. And do it all for no more cost than a few small sheets of paper and maybe a postage stamp.


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Our new President has called for a new era of honest, transparent and efficient government. Let’s get that ball rolling.

Obama won the election, but 48% of the population voted against him. A large portion of those voters were fearful that his political leanings would result in a loss of rights and freedoms. One of the most vocal of those groups were the law abiding gun owners.

New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Gun sales and pistol permit applications have skyrocketed across the country since the election. There are many people who are nearly paranoid that the new administration is going to erode their Second Amendment rights.

New Jersey has a law on the books, a statute, NJS 2C:58-3(f), that says that the pistol permit / firearms ID application process will be completed in 30 days or less. This is reassuring, but this law has no penalty. Without a penalty a law has no teeth. The application process can thus take as long as the governing body wants it to, which could result in effectively banning new firearms ownership by honest and stable citizens, which in turn would legitimize those feelings of paranoia.
Horror stories abound on firearms forums on the internet that bemoan the length of time the application process takes, and the “storm trooper” mentality behind such times. Let’s put a lid on that by bringing the process out into the sunshine and making sure the law is obeyed to the letter.

I propose a few simple changes to NJS 2C: 58-3, probably to go in paragraph (f) that will remove those feelings and show all the people that New Jersey is moving in the direction that our new President wants the government to go. A lot of positive press can be generated by improving the process that surrounds this most sensitive issue.

This is the application process as it currently exists:
The citizen fills out form the application form sts-33, and the mental health background check form sp-66. The citizen acquires the proper certified checks or money orders to pay for the application process. The citizen submits these forms to the proper local governing body (State Police, town police, town or county clerk, etc) and has to be fingerprinted. If the fingerprinting is done by an outside agency, then another form has to be filled out, signed and numbered by the fingerprinting agency, and also submitted to the proper local governing body.

Suggested changes to improve the process at almost zero cost:


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There you go. A process improvement suggestion for the state with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, that does not change the existing laws, but adds transparency and accountability to the execution of those laws that will ease the minds of the one group in the nation that is most in fear of the government. And by clarifying the meaning of “30 days” in a manner most beneficial to the government it gives the government even more time to get the work done. I’m trying to make things better for both sides here, even though I feel that 30 calendar days from the time the fingerprints are delivered is more than ample time to execute an almost fully computerized process that might take as much as 15 minutes to complete.

Ok, maybe “most in fear” isn’t the best phrase to use when referring to law abiding gun owners or those citizens desiring to be so. “most apprehensive” or “least trusting” or “most protective of it’s rights” would be better.

My plan could easily be bi-partisan, as all it is doing is putting a few very low cost checks in place that force everyone to be treated equally, and eliminate things “accidentally” falling between the cracks and getting lost. And all that the cash penalty does is provide a means to pressure the government to obey a law already on the books that they themselves put there, to provide a service that they have been hired to do within the time that they have stated that they can do it in.

Equal treatment for everyone. No loopholes left for government workers to impart their own agendas on the citizens. More honest, transparent, and efficient government.

Hey, I’ve managed to make both the NRA and Obama happy at the same time. Woo hoo for me!!


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/26/2009 at 01:48 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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