Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

I like big silver coins.

Some like gold. Others like copper. I like silver.

Since 1986, I have been collecting American Silver Eagle Proof coins. It is a collection my later father started for me and, until 2019, purchased the individual proof coins. I supplemented the collection with the special sets that the U.S. Mint issued, but it is a nearly complete set of proof coins in their original government package.

Although I have to find the 1995-W anniversary set for the elusive 1995-W American Silver Eagle, I have been trying to keep the collection up to date. It is why I hung up on a business call to make sure I was logged in to the U.S. Mint website to purchase the Reverse Proof Two-Coin Set.

By 11:58 AM, I was on the page for the set. As the time counted down to noon, I refreshed the page waiting for the Add-to-Bag button.

I am probably not the only one pushing the refresh button two minutes until noon. Until the Add-to-Bag button appeared, the system was responsive. Of course, the page was likely cached by Cloudflare or my ISP (Comcast), but it was responsive. At the stroke of noon, all that ended.

The first thing we notice is that someone rebranded the Cloudflare gateway error page. Although I do not have inside information, I would bet that Cloudflare told the U.S. Mint to make it so that they don’t get blamed.

I wonder if Cloudflare demanded the U.S. Mint rebrand their gateway error page so that they don’t get the blame?

Another change is the HTML file that appeared as a text file. Under Safari, the file type kept downloading the information to my Downloads folder. Under Firefox, one of the systems in the chain treated me to a small HTML file.

Under the hood HTML output as a web page?

Somehow, a set made it into my bag, and I made it to the checkout page. I couldn’t use my stored credit card because I would see the Bad Gateway error. The card was next to me, and I furiously typed.

Suddenly, there was a new error. I don’t know what it means, but the U.S. Mint’s programmers did not know how to handle that error. How do I know that? The error message provided said so.

This is a new error. In my days as a programmer, we would be chastised for this type of error message!

According to several reports, the website crashed at the beginning of the process. It was difficult to tell, but the U.S. Mint admitted there were problems. They announced that there were products available at 1:19 PM on social media.

After stubborn persistance, I received the confirmation of my order at 12:48 PM.

I asked the U.S. Mint for comment. I will let you know what they say.

Acknowledging the U.S. Mint’s Accomplishments

Coining machines striking one-cent coins at the U.S. Branch Mint in Philadelphia.

The U.S. Mint has made it easy for the numismatic industry to complain. However, numismatists and the public should commend the U.S. Mint for its performance since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the recent media availability, U.S. Mint Director David Ryder said that the U.S. Mint is the only sovereign mint in the world to produce its bullion products since the start of the pandemic without interruption.

When COVID-19 affected the entire population, nobody understood the virus. In a panic, the entire world shut down. We did not understand the effects, but people were getting sick, requiring ventilators and scarce resources, and filling hospitals. For the U.S. Mint, there was an outbreak at the West Point Mint that affected production. They moved production to Philadelphia while those in West Point went into quarantine.

Like many critical businesses, the U.S. Mint reworked its schedule, added health precautions to keep workers safe, and continued production. While the numismatic world was worried about grading bullion coins from Philadelphia as an attempt to make a buck, the U.S. Mint was dealing with the health and safety of their workers.

It puts the industry’s selfishness in perspective.

Analysts give us many reasons why precious metals have risen, and the demand for bullion coins defies the usual analysis. Still, the U.S. Mint has been operating to supply a clamoring market.

Bullion production did slow down. The temporary closing of the West Point Mint reduced the resources they could use to produce bullion coins. There were also production problems by the U.S. Mint’s suppliers in producing the blanks they use. Those businesses were also facing COVID-19 issues that limited their capacity. And do not forget about the mines that could not operate or operated with limited capacity so they can protect their workers.

Ryder said that the procurement staff was diligent in using their resources to ensure the U.S. Mint had the materials to manufacture bullion.

Further limiting the U.S. Mint’s ability to manufacture bullion was the requirement to satisfy the orders for circulating coinage from the Federal Reserve.

As retailers were opening with new precautions, they reported that it was not easy to change because there were not enough coins. Headlines of a “coin shortage” became a topic. When the Federal Reserve investigated the issue, they found there were enough coins in the economy. Because the economy was not moving, circulating coinage was not circulating.

The problem was that the supply chain was interrupted and not moving as expected.

Coin Pusher in a penny arcade. Cambridge Midsummer Fair 2005 (Photograph © Andrew Dunn, cc-by-sa-2.0)

The U.S. Mint was ordered to increase circulating coin production to satisfy politicians and others who misinterpreted the problem. The Federal Reserve’s solution was similar to the coin pusher arcade game where you drop a coin into the slot, hoping it lands in the right place so that a moving bar can push more coins into the bin for you to collect as a prize. The game is a windfall for the arcade owner. The player rarely wins.

In the pandemic version of the game, the U.S. Mint manufactured coins so the Federal Reserve could dump billions into the economic hopper, hoping that some would fall out into the circulating economy.

In 2020, the U.S. Mint struck 14.774 BILLION coins, 23.7-percent more than they struck in 2019. Nearly every industry reported a reduction in demand and the ability to produce products. And the supply chain continues to affect production in some industries, including tech, where there is a shortage of computer chips. But the U.S. Mint was able to add over 14 BILLION coins to the economy.

The U.S. federal government continues to operate under mandatory pandemic-related protocols. As a federal bureau, the U.S. Mint continues to do its part to maintain social distancing and keeping its workers safe. No company, industry, or government has continued or boosted its production in this manner in the last 18 months.

Remember, the U.S. Mint does this without using any money from the general treasury. Their operating budget comes from the seignorage (profit) from the coin manufacturing process. When the profit exceeds their needs, a portion of the money is deposited in the general treasury. The more money the U.S. Mint makes, the more money they deposit in the general treasury. Talk about a money-making operation.

The U.S. Mint continues to have problems dealing with the collector market. Given the circumstances they have faced over the last 18 months, you have to admire their accomplishments.

Weekly World Numismatic News for August 29, 2021

The U.S. Mint attempts to fix their online ordering system, but to what effect?

This past week, the U.S. Mint held a press availability for the numismatic media. I highlighted the meeting after the discussion, which includes corrections. While the U.S. Mint appears to be working to rectify its e-commerce issues, there continue to be unaddressed problems.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that it was my impression “that the lawyers had more say over policy than the appointed director or the career executives.” It is not clear that the U.S. Mint has separated its policy decision from the advice of counsel.

Missing from the discussion is how the lawyers forced the U.S. Mint to violate the law. Even though they identified the Internet Robots (BOTs), the lawyers not allowing the U.S. Mint to resolve the problem puts the e-commerce system in violation of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). FISMA was passed in 2002 to require the government to protect computing resources.

Although it sounds like a technical issue, FISMA’s purpose is to allow bureaus like the U.S. Mint to protect public access to government resources. It also allows the government to do what is necessary to serve the public.

While the dealer community is part of the public, they are not the majority of the interested public. The U.S. Mint reported that only 18 authorized purchasers could access 10% of production at a 5% premium as part of its early access program.

The U.S. Mint deserves commendation for its ability to exceed production during the pandemic. Questions remain on the decisions on collector coin programs.

And now the news…

 August 24, 2021
OTTAWA, ON, Aug. 20, 2021 /CNW/ – The Royal Canadian Mint (the "Mint") is pleased to announce its financial results for the second quarter of 2021 that provide insight into our activities, the markets influencing our businesses and our expectations for the next 12 months.  → Read more at newswire.ca

 August 27, 2021
Hundreds of ancient coins looted from archaeological sites were found in a house in Bnei Brak, the Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Monday. The artifacts were uncovered during an operation by the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit.  → Read more at jpost.com

 August 27, 2021
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — It was a slow day Aug. 1 when Nick Amelio was treasure salvaging near Corrigan's shipwreck, just south of Turtle Trail Beach.  → Read more at tcpalm.com

 August 27, 2021
Generally speaking, gold is the antithesis of fiat currencies and is viewed as a hedge against inflation.  → Read more at swfinstitute.org

 August 27, 2021
There are few things more alluring than buried treasure — preferably ancient and preferably gold. Historically, people tended to bury their coinage in times of trouble, intending to come back for it.  → Read more at independent.ie
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U.S. Mint Talks About Their Website and Ordering System

The U.S. Mint held a press availability for members of the numismatic media this morning. There will be more to say about the information presented, but the following are some highlights that will interest the numismatic community.

Mint management noted that the U.S. Mint is the only sovereign mint with continuing bullion production during the pandemic. In addition to the bullion coin production, the U.S. Mint has produced more circulating coins than any other time.

The U.S. Mint continues operating at the highest level while maintaining safety and controls to protect the employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although it is easy to criticize the U.S. Mint, it is commendable that the bureau continued production but manufacturing more products than ever in the last 18 months.

U.S. MINT DIRECTOR DAVID RYDER noted that sales at the U.S. Mint had been declining prior to his arrival. Part of the reason is that there was not a permanent director in almost nine years. Ryder saw his job as trying to expand the product line to increase interest in the numismatic process.

U.S. MINT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING MATTHEW HOLBEN said that the U.S. Mint had faced unprecedented demand for its products during the “black swan event.” According to Holben, the U.S. Mint sold more proof American Silver Eagle Proof coins in under a half-hour than they sold in 2019.

The U.S. Mint has 18 dealers that are registered authorized purchasers of numismatic products. These 18 dealers can purchase up to 10-percent of the numismatic products before the public sale. They credit the reduction in attempts to use automated methods to order (BOTs) now that the dealers can determine their inventory.

U.S. MINT DEPUTY CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER KIRK GILLIS said that since the first 2021 Morgan Dollar release, the catalog website could process 217 peak orders per second, up from 96 peak orders per second.

Gillis reported that “up to 60% of the activity on the sites were BOTs” based on the drop in traffic demand since the May 24 launch of the 2021 Morgan Dollar products. He said that the U.S. Mint had implemented technology to reduce the impact of scripts and BOTs used to order products.

The U.S. Mint will explore pre-ordering and waiting room software similar to the processes used by the ticket purchasing systems. They are also looking into other rate-limiting technology.

Beyond the highlights, there are other issues to explore. Stay tuned!

CORRECTIONS
  • The website can process “217 peak orders per second, up from 96 peak orders per second.” It was originally reported as “270 orders per second, up from 90.”
  • Clarified the 60% reduction in BOT activity as being since the May 24 launch of the initial Morgan Dollar products.
Sorry for the confusion.

POLL: Are you collecting 2021 coins?

New Change Find: a 2021 Roosevelt Dime

In my day job working within the collecting world, there are two hobbies whose collectors have arguments about which way is best. Comics collectors argue whose universe is better. Most of these arguments are Marvel versus DC comics, but there are interested collectors in the smaller and independent (indy) publishers. But you can go to a Comicon and find that the differences are all in fun.

U.S. numismatics collectors are different. On one side, there are the collectors of old coins. If the coin was not circulated and made of precious metals, then it is not worth collecting. They look at modern coins as “trinkets” or not worth their time. The rest of us will happily collect modern (post-1964) coins and the new issues by the U.S. Mint.

As an aside, my company sells sets of 50 State Quarters for higher prices than in 2019. Although there is an active market for this material, they sell for less than collectors paid in the 2000s.

Enough people are collecting modern material that the Treasury Inspector General has noticed the problems collectors have experienced with ordering from the U.S. Mint. Modern products are selling out as fast as they are offered, and premiums are rising 100-percent and higher on the secondary market.

For this poll, I am asking if you are collecting the coins produced by the U.S. Mint in 2021, then what are you collecting?

As always, your comments are welcome!
 

Are you collecting the new releases from the U.S. Mint?










View Results

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Inspector General to Investigate the U.S. Mint

According to Coin World, the Treasury Office of Inspector General (OIG) “may” investigate how the U.S. Mint has handled the sales of limited-edition numismatic collectibles. Coin World may have confirmed information provided to me on background.

Although the web-based ordering has sort-of worked, I reported on the systemic issues facing the U.S. Mint in moving forward. In summary, my investigation found:

  1. The alleged silver shortage was not a shortage of silver but a failure of the U.S. Mint to manage its supply chain properly.
  2. The U.S Mint’s insistence that Internet robots (BOTs) were the cause of their web-based issues was the symptom of a more significant problem that they have not learned from their past mistakes.
  3. The U.S. Mint’s management managing like they were afraid of repercussions because the lawyers said so. The way it sounded, the U.S. Mint management was not managing but taking instructions. If they cannot manage, should they be replaced by lawyers?

An investigation by the Treasury OIG is an excellent first step. But experience has shown that an OIG report does not guarantee that U.S. Mint will fix the problems. I have seen government managers and appointees say all of the right things and do little to nothing.

It might require an act of Congress to fix the U.S. Mint. If it requires an act of Congress, don’t hold your breath waiting for changes.

Weekly World Numismatic News for August 15, 2021

Although this past week was the World’s Fair of Money, there was not much news surrounding the event. According to individual reports, people said that it was a good show even with the COVID precautions. It was similar to reports from The National, which was held in the Stephens Convention Center the week before.

The week’s biggest news was the U.S. Mint publishing the lot numbers used to label the boxes with the American Eagle bullion coins.

Until last year, the U.S. Mint has not identified where they strike the American Eagle bullion coins. Spokespeople emphasize that since their production is for the investment market, the mint location is not relevant. Of course, collectors view the market differently. Dealers and third-party grading services have tried to determine where the coins were struck based on shipping labels and other factors. Although they are reasonably sure, there are mistakes in their assumptions.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the West Point Mint to close temporarily. To keep up with production, the U.S. Mint struck 240,000 bullion coins in Philadelphia. The third-party grading services asked the U.S. Mint about the production of these coins. Rather than leave the industry guessing, the U.S. Mint identified which boxes contained American Silver Eagle bullion coins struck in Philadelphia. As a result, the third-party grading services accurately noted the origin of the bullion coin on the label of their slab.

U.S. Mint Error Label on American Silver Eagle bullion boxes

The U.S. Mint reports that some of the boxes marked with “BF” should not have the “F” since they were not part of the first production run.

Without the industry asking, the U.S. Mint released the lot information about the American Eagle bullion coins this year. Making this remarkable is the U.S. Mint broke published the lot numbers for the Type 1 and Type 2 reverses for both the silver and gold bullion coins. In fact, they noted that a few boxes had labeling errors incorrectly marking some of the coins as part of the first production.

Although the U.S. Mint has claimed it was always considerate to the collector community, it is the first time they voluntarily provided this information without prompting. Could the U.S. Mint finally be learning from past mistakes? Time will only tell.

American Eagle Bullion Lot Information

And now the news…

 August 9, 2021
The 2,600-year-old site produced highly standardized “spade money,” possibly on government orders  → Read more at smithsonianmag.com

 August 9, 2021
'Remarkable' collection of 52 Tudor, Stuart and Commonwealth coins is set to sell for £500,000 at auction — including a Henry VIII coin struck in tribute to his first wife Catherine of Aragon  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk

 August 11, 2021
A scavenger hunt at a Talmud-era village in northern Israel took a surprising turn on Tuesday when an Israeli girl found a 1,500-year-old bronze coin.  → Read more at israelhayom.com

 August 11, 2021
While out camping with family on the beach, Yotam Dahan discovers 13-pound lump of coins from about 1,700 years ago which archeologists speculate belonged to a merchant ship that wrecked ashore  → Read more at ynetnews.com

 August 11, 2021
TEHRAN – Iranian authorities have seized some ancient coins from an illegal digger in the western province of Ilam, the provincial tourism chief announced on Wednesday.  → Read more at tehrantimes.com
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What is wrong with the U.S. Mint… this time.

In this final installment of my look at the U.S. Mint’s current problems, I will translate the expletives I wrote in the margins of my notes into an editorial about what I learned.

The impression left by the U.S. Mint officials I spoke with is that the lawyers had more say over policy than the appointed director or the career executives. When questioned as to why the U.S. Mint did not implement additional cybersecurity measures against Internet robots, the answer was that the lawyers prevented a sound business decision.

I do not know why the lawyers prevented the U.S. Mint from implementing appropriate cybersecurity controls to prevent Internet robots and other abuses. Whatever the reason, it caused the U.S. Mint to violate the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Ignorance of FISMA put the U.S. Mint’s cybersecurity in jeopardy during a time when the Internet is becoming more dangerous.

When I used to work as an information security contractor for the U.S. government, including with Treasury bureaus, agencies would work in anticipation of the passage of relevant laws. When I worked for the IRS, another Treasury bureau, the lawyers and analysts would work on the implementation requirements for the new law. They drafted everything from new forms to planning for the programming necessary to implement the new law. Other agencies did the same. If the lawyers prevented the U.S. Mint from anticipating the passage of a law, then the lawyers are overanalyzing the law. It is called being pedantic.

Where was the U.S. Mint management? The lawyers are supposed to provide advice. They are not supposed to be the final answer. Even though the U.S. Mint did not have a permanent director until David Ryder was confirmed by the Senate, someone was in charge. Why is that person not held responsible for the problems?

David J. Ryder at the hearing regarding his nomination to be the 39th Director of the U.S. Mint

What has David Ryder been doing since his confirmation in April 2018? During his confirmation hearing, Ryder spoke about his experience with the security of coinage. Why is he not concerned about the security of the U.S. Mint’s cyber assets?

Has Ryder even worked on the security of U.S. coinage? Criminals are duping the collecting public by peddling counterfeit American Silver Eagles. Why has the U.S. Mint not implemented security features in the American Eagle program? If the security of the physical currency is Ryder’s specialty, why has he not implemented it to protect the public?

This is not Ryder’s first rodeo. He was appointed the U.S. Mint director in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush. Ryder should understand how the government works. But his performance during his current appointment and the decisions he has made have the numismatic public questioning his competence.

When someone writes a critical opinion piece, they should provide possible solutions. In this case, I am not sure that any suggestion would work. The U.S. Mint does not listen to the collecting public. When they feign interest, the people who try to be responsive move along with the political winds, and new appointees ignore the lessons of the past under the guise of “Not invented here.”

A common problem among political appointees is that they come into any job thinking they know better than career appointees. It causes them to ignore the past and rediscover previous mistakes. I spent a career fixing the security problems caused by mistakes made by appointees.

I wonder if a civilian advisory board would help the U.S. Mint? The board would consist of experts in numismatics and government processes. But it will give the bureau someone to blame if something goes wrong because if I learned nothing else from my 25 years working for the government, career executives and appointees are collectively risk-averse.

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The U.S. Mint has a memory problem

This is the second article of three regarding the recent problems at the U.S. Mint.

It is as if the U.S. Mint did not learn a lot since the fiasco of the 2014 Kennedy Half Dollar 50th Anniversary Gold Coin release. (Image courtesy of ABC 7 News, Denver)

During a recent conversation with representatives of the U.S. Mint, it became apparent that the bureau suffers from a lack of institutional knowledge. As a result, the U.S. Mint has not learned from its history and is making the same mistakes collectors have complained about for years.

Last month, a discussion was held with a representative of the U.S. Mint’s communications department and a manufacturing supervisor to understand better the 2021 Morgan Dollar ordering failures. When asked about lessons learned from previous sales, they admitted to working at the U.S. Mint for four years or less and could not talk about previous issues.

After asking about lessons learned from the past with responses ringing like “not on my watch,” it brought to mind the first Numismatic Forum in 2016, where the only blogger in attendance asked whether the discussions would survive changes of leadership and administrations. Rhett Jeppson was nominated to be Director of the U.S. Mint but was never confirmed. Although there were three more Numismatic Forums, it is apparent that none of the discussions survived leadership changes.

Part of the problem is with the government’s Senior Executive Service (SES) program. Members of the SES are government employees hired to senior management positions within the federal government. They undergo special training in government leadership and understand how to lead their sections through policy changes. SES employees are supposed to be non-partisan government workers. There are also limited reasons for the SES to stay with the agency to build collective knowledge.

There are three ways an SES employee can be appointed. A career appointment is a merit position staffed by a qualified executive. A noncareer appointment is a temporary appointment and is subject to several restrictions, including the number of temporary appointees the government can hire. Finally, a limited appointment is hired for an 18 month to a three-year term. Rhett Jeppson’s role that made him the acting Director was the result of a limited appointment.

SES members are also encouraged to change agencies every four years. Although there are exceptions, the SES program is designed not to allow executives to become too powerful within the agencies. Forcing them to move reduces the risk of potential abuse of power.

As SES members come and go, the U.S. Mint loses the institutional knowledge they earned over the years. Experience working with members of the SES program shows that the new appointees rarely refer to documentation left by their predecessors. Their egos also have them ignoring employees and contractors with the institutional knowledge.

The U.S. Mint has resources in the numismatic community that can help teach them about the past. Having an engaged numismatic community available to help the U.S. Mint makes the bureau unique among government agencies. If their egos prevent them from reaching out to the numismatic community, the SES members can perform a web search on any topic to read what the numismatic press wrote about any issue.

During the discussion, the U.S. Mint emphasized how they wanted to work with the numismatic community and do their best to make the products accessible. While they will talk with members of the numismatic media, the U.S. Mint will not reach out for the community’s help.

The numismatic community wants the U.S. Mint to be able to support our collecting habits. They have a unique opportunity to engage a community willing to help. If the U.S. Mint wants to demonstrate that they are, they should set up a program of numismatic advisors to help them understand what went wrong in the past and how to make it better for the future.

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About the U.S. Mint’s Silver Shortage

This is the first article of three regarding the recent problems at the U.S. Mint.

Economic analysts believe there is a silver shortage but that it is not critical. According to the supply chain reports, a sufficient supply of industrial silver for manufacturers to keep up with production. The reduction in computer chip production because of COVID-based plant shutdowns is the greatest threat to manufacturing.

Jewelry and other businesses that use silver for their beauty are experiencing a slowdown but not to the extent of the computer chip industry. The industry has been able to use recycled silver fueled by people cashing in their scrap silver. One silver refiner reports that they have more work than they can process.

Although manufacturers have silver to maintain production, the U.S. Mint announced on May 28, 2021, that “The global silver shortage has driven demand for many of our bullion and numismatic products to record heights.”

On June 2, the U.S. Mint clarified their statement by saying, “In a message released Friday, May 28, we made reference to a global shortage of silver. In more precise terms, the silver shortage being experienced by the United States Mint pertains only to the supply of silver blanks among suppliers to the U.S. Mint.”

Why is the U.S. Mint different from the other industries?

The short answer is that the U.S. Mint is just another government agency subject to federal law.

The U.S. Mint is required to buy silver mined in the United States within one year of its mining (31 U.S. Code §5132(a)(2)(D)). Under this law, the U.S. Mint cannot use recycled silver or silver that the government has not purchased from the mines.

The U.S. Mint discontinued assay operations shortly after the passage of the Coinage Act of 1964. Since then, the bureau has bought the metals from other manufacturers, either sheets or already formed planchets. When the American Eagle Program started, the law required the U.S. Mint to use the silver in the Strategic and Critical Materials Stockpile. The U.S. Mint manufactured the planchets in West Point.

When the program depleted the Strategic Stockpile, Congress updated the law to require the U.S. Mint to use freshly mined silver. They found that it was more cost-effective to have a commercial vendor manufacture the planchets.

Hiring a commercial vendor to do work for the federal government is different from a business-to-business transaction. The government requires all contracts and contractors to follow the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) to purchase goods and services.

For the government to contract with any company, a bidding and vetting process can last from weeks to years. The agency has to produce requirements, selection criteria and evaluate the proposals, called source selection.

Congress purposely made the process challenging to promote fairness in the bidding process and ensure the government pays a fair price. Unfortunately, the process is expensive and fraught with problems.

For the U.S. Mint, the problem is that FAR does not allow the latitude to find alternate vendors when there are supply issues.

The U.S. Mint has contracts with four vendors to make silver planchets. They have vetted the contractors, their processes and have contractual quality control measures to ensure the planchets comply with the Treasury’s legal and quality requirements. If the vendors cannot fulfill the U.S. Mint’s order, the law prevents them from looking for immediate alternatives.

According to the U.S. Mint, the suppliers of silver planchets had production slowdowns because of COVID-19 operating precautions. In addition to manufacturing issues, the mining operators also experienced slowdowns because of the same operating precautions. Every industry is experiencing supply chain interruptions.

Where the U.S. Mint could have done better was to order the planchets sooner. The U.S. Mint reported that agency attorneys refused to allow their purchasers to order planchets before the law was signed. The bill, H.R. 6192, was sent to the president on December 24, 2020. The president signed the bill into law on January 5, 2021 (Public Law No. 116-286).

When a law is signed, the White House will tell the appropriate Departments. If that does not happen, the agencies receive notice from the Government Printing Office (GPO) who publishes the laws. Like everything else, the GPO has experienced interruptions because of pandemic protocols.

According to a government attorney that works for the Inspector General’s office in a non-Treasury department, agencies have the latitude to work on anticipated laws. An example cited is that the IRS works on drafting forms and regulations based on the bills in progress to be ready for the filing season.

Although Congress did not do the U.S. Mint a favor by passing the bill on Christmas Eve, the White House did not do the U.S. Mint a favor by not letting the Treasury know they signed the bill. However, the leadership of the U.S. Mint allowed the lawyers to dictate operations. The lawyers are supposed to be advisors, not the last word.

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