• United States
Contributing Writer

Even the President’s having e-mail problems

Jul 22, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Dear Mr. President

In an issue of “The New York Times” last week, tech reporter John Markoff pointed out a troubling new program that the government has put in place: an upgrade to the president’s electronic message system.

I was eager to test-drive it as I’ve often used the traditional to voice my opinion about the president’s decisions – both for and against them.

But as Markoff points out, a new system has been put in place that is Web-based. Trying to access that system through the “Contact” Web page proved futile. Where the president’s e-mail address used to be, there is only a link to “White House Web Mail.” I received a “page cannot be displayed” error when I clicked on the link that was supposed to drive me to the new message site.

So I sent a message in what is now officially “the old-fashioned way” and was instantly sent the following message:

“Thank you for e-mailing President Bush.  Your ideas and comments are very important to him.

“Because of the large volume of e-mail received, the President cannot personally respond to each message.  However, the White House staff considers and reports citizen ideas and concerns.

“In addition to, we have developed White House Web Mail, an automated e-mail response system.  Please access to submit comments on a specific issue.

Additionally, we welcome you to visit our Web site for the most up-to-date information on current events and topics of interest to you.”

So off I went to the appointed Webmail site and voila, received a “page cannot be displayed” message again.

Hmmm… now, according to Markoff, the White House receives more than 15,000 messages a day. Those 15,000 people trying to reach the White House on that day probably encountered the same frustrating scenario I did. A severe deterrent to logging an opinion.

According to Markoff, had I been able to actually get to the Web site, I would have found an even more angst-inducing situation – a detailed Web form that asks for more than just your opinion.

So I decided to send my note off to Vice President Dick Cheney, whose e-mail address was still listed on Turns out the vice president’s e-mail system has not been converted to the new system and I received a lovely autoresponder note that said the White House Office of E-correspondence will be perusing my message.