When we bought our house, we borrowed the money through the Mississippi Veterans’ Home Purchase Board, which is a state agency—ultimately, the loans are backed by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. The process wasn’t without its hiccups, but overall it was fine—no worse than the loan for our previous house with a commercial lender.

So imagine my surprise when I received a short email yesterday from VHPB with the following:

The VHPB has recently launched a new servicing software to better serve our Veterans. Due to this change, reporting to the VA was temporarily interrupted. If you have received a letter from the VA stating your account is delinquent, and you have made your monthly payments, please disregard this notice. We are working to rectify the situation and submit a report to the VA to update their records. (Emphasis mine.)

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, unacceptable.

As a former state bureaucrat myself, it’s not too harsh to say this is a perfect example of why people distrust government, despise the bureaucracy, and see government workers as lazy and incompetent. This state agency literally has a single purpose: to “obtain VA backed mortgages for the purchase of the Veteran’s home.” Whatever value the “new servicing software” will bring to me and other veterans—and I can’t know that, since the above email was the first time I’d ever heard of it—if so narrowly-focused a government agency can’t plan and communicate adequately, what chance does an agency with a broader mandate have?

I am not one to argue that government ought to “operate like a business.” This line is trotted out in politics, but in fact there are good reasons why it’s not desireable, at least not without a lot of caveats. On the other hand it’s obviously true that if VHPB were a commercial entity, its failure here would probably have essentially immediate financial effects—loss of customers, lawsuits, failure to garner new business, and so forth.

In the event, I suppose I’ll just grit my teeth and bear it.