Paper Trail

“Behind the door, a room opens up as big as a supermarket, full of five-drawer file cabinets and people in business casual. About 230 feet below the surface, there is easy-listening music playing at somebody’s desk. This is one of the weirdest workplaces in the U.S. government — both for where it is and for what it does.” Representative Gladys Noon Spellman of Maryland once remarked: “It is not conceivable to me that all of this is not automated.” Thirty-four years and more than $100 million later, the work done in “the cave” is still done by hand. WaPo takes you underground and into the weird world of the Office of Personnel Management: A sinkhole of bureaucracy.

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