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FOID is a mess

August 10, 2012

OAG Report found poor management at ISP’s FOID unit, as

  • 85% of calls to FOID office abandoned / not answered.
  • As few as 40% of approvals within the legally mandated 30-days.
  • 29% of denials took longer than the legally mandated 30-days.
  • Three employees accounted for $239,000 in overtime
  • No current administrative rules and policies.
  • Inadequate training of staff.

Springfield, IL (Guns Save Life) – Reports of mismanagement, ineptitude and tardiness have dogged the Illinois State Police’s Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card section for years now.

And now, a new Illinois Office of the Auditor General’s Report just released has detailed page after page of problems with the program and its administration, leaving many to wonder if Illinois, one of only three states with a firearms owners identification card program, would be better off without it.
In 2008, the ISP’s FOID card office processed only 40% of FOID card applications within the legally-mandated 30-days, leaving 112,000+ Illinoisans waiting longer than they should have for their cards and exposing them to felony charges for possessing firearms without a valid FOID card.

In fairness, things could be worse.  The processing times were marginally better in 2009 and 2010 in the OAG’s report, but even factoring those years in, the Illinois State Police still only completes applicant processing in a lawful manner less than two-thirds of the time.

“Can you hear me now?”
And while the 2008 processing rate was abysmal, the service provided on the phone to Illinois residents was consistently far worse.  85% of calls to the FOID section were “abandoned” or not answered over the period from 2008 to 2010.

“We’re in the money!  Is it payday yet?”
Three card-processing employees at the Illinois State Police captured $239,000 in overtime over 2008-2010, on top of their base salaries which alone were, on average, almost $70,000.

All total, employees of the FOID branch garnered nearly $530,000 in overtime over 2008-2010.

Despite the rather princely salaries, and benefits, poor management was apparently the norm, as reported by the Office of the Auditor General.  The problems were “significant” and extensive.  From the report:

We conducted reviews of the FOID eligibility process and identified significant management control problems with ISP’s administration of the program that impact program effectiveness. The Firearms Services Bureau did not have up-to-date policies and procedures, up-to-date administrative rules, and did not provide formal training to the Bureau staff related to the process for determining FOID card eligibility.

The OAG investigators found thousands of completed FOID cards that weren’t even delivered to the recipients.

“Just ignore it and it’ll go away.”
The OAG people even found thousands of old applications from a three-day period in October 2011 that were never even opened.  It’s hard to provide timely service to applicants if you don’t open their mail and process their applications!
An embarrassment to Illinois residents.
The ISP’s FOID branch is an embarrassment to the State of Illinois.  It’s time to either hire sufficient staff to adequately handle the applications and telephone calls in a timely manner consistent with state law, or to dissolve the program altogether.

photos courtesy Despair.com and cheap-paydayloan.com.