Paying the Price

"The Success of Failure" (April 1) is so true. We need people to start demanding results. Many retirement pensions and 401(k)-type funds are facing similarities. The sad part is everyone thinks it's OK for the people in these accounts to keep on paying for these failures.

Keep up the good work and maybe someday someone will be held accountable for these multimillion- and multibillion-dollar failures.

Christopher Ludwig
Sandstone, Minn.

Setting It Straight

In "Retirement Envy" (March 15), Tom Shoop stated, "Federal retirees also get another coveted benefit: lifetime health insurance coverage." This is very misleading since we get coverage only by paying the same co-pay that we paid as federal employees. This is compared to many state and municipal pensions in Connecticut, which pay 100 percent of health benefits, including those of spouses, after retirement.

I'm not complaining about my co-pay; I just feel that the statement is misleading. Many unions nowadays are threatening to strike rather than accept any co-pay on behalf of their memberships.

Mike McManus Hamden, Conn.

Defining Need

I recently read "Further Complications" (March 15), which pointed out systems failures at the Internal Revenue Service, and must concur with everything written in it. Having done development work as a systems engineer for 15 years, defining the user's need is the hardest part of new product development. Most users come to us with ill-prepared lists, and the struggle to clarify their needs is huge. Many times it takes two or three weeks to do this.

I helped develop two very successful software programs, and they were successful because senior management allowed us to do our jobs. We were able to tailor Air Force guidance for our specific needs, and teams were kept intact throughout the development and testing phases.

Of even greater impact was the caliber of our senior leadership. The biggest flaw in getting the IRS the software it needed was the lack of even adequate leadership.

Mike Vajdos
Senior Systems Engineer
Brooks City-Base, Texas
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