Today’s lesson in how not to design a system comes from the U.S. Department of Education (DoE). The system is the public service loan forgiveness program. Congress directed the DoE to forgive college loans for students who went into public service.
In 2018, the GAO found that DoE rejected 99% of applications to this program. They distributed just $27M out of $700M. About 71% of rejections were due to a technical process issue.
What are horrible design! If 71% of your users can’t follow the process, it’s not your users that are the problem, it’s your system! And, by definition, these were all college-educated users! It almost appears like DoE deliberately created a bad system. Probably not though, when the choice is incompetence or maliciousness, it’s almost always incompetence. To its credit, DoE agreed with GAO’s report and recommendations to improve the program.
Further details in the GAO report here.