The state Department of Administrative Services' 693-page report on state job vacancies is not worth the paper it's printed on.

It never should have seen the light of day. It would have been better to pull the plug on the whole project rather than put out this ludicrous example of misinformation.

Consider just a few of the obvious examples:

  • The report says there are 800 vacant jobs in the whole state college system. Actually, there are 19 vacancies.
  • The state college system does not have a vacant president position that pays $13.4 million a year.
  • The Nebraska Supreme Court does not have 178 vacancies. Actually there are 19.
  • The Attorney General's Office does not have 58 vacancies. There are none.

The report came in response to a law introduced by Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha and passed by the full Legislature. It directed DAS to "accurately track vacant positions" and supply quarterly reports.

The report issued in late October is the first of its kind. Some state senators were hoping that it would provide information that would be useful in the special session as senators try to come up with $334 million worth of spending cuts.

State officials had a few excuses why the information was incorrect, mostly blaming computer software. For example, the Supreme Court uses a manual system to keep track of vacancies, rather than the computerized Nebraska Information System. The number in the computer was wrong.

The state colleges stopped using the state system. That supposedly explains why the report shows 800 vacant jobs in the state college system. Actually it's the total number of jobs in the state colleges.

Laughably, DAS Director Carlos Castillo initially tried to defend the report.

"It's a powerful tool," he said. "It is a very detailed report. It gives a lot of insight into vacancies."

Later, Castillo put the blame for the mistakes on individual agencies for supplying incorrect data. He claimed that he cannot force the agencies to provide better information.

The excuses are unpersuasive.

The mammoth report is the sort of thing that gives all government a bad name. In this case, even the old line "good enough for government work" doesn't come close to justifying the release of this monument of ineptitude.

Another report is due next quarter.

If DAS can't do any better than this next time around, it ought to forget it. Don't publish. Bad information is worse than no information at all.