The dysfunction at the state Department of Social Services continues to amaze.

Recall that this was the agency that suspended the license of a Castro Valley residential care facility last fall but didn't bother to think about what would happen to the elderly occupants when only a cook and a janitor remained to look after them.

The day after Valley Springs Manor lost its license, Maria Galang, an evaluator from the state agency, went back to the facility and found residents still there, insufficient food supply and the person in charge of the medications unable to find them.

Galang issued a notice that the facility was operating in violation of the law and gave a copy of the finding to the cook. But neither she nor her supervisor, Mary Segura, took steps to help residents relocate.

Lest you think they were just thoughtless bureaucrats in an otherwise smooth-running organization, think again. The ineptitude seems to be widespread.

It turns out, as reporters Katie Nelson and Daniel Willis revealed in Sunday's paper, that the agency's website still lists Valley Springs Manor as open for business and fully licensed.

On Wednesday, three days after that embarrassing detail appeared on the front page of hundreds of thousands of our newspapers, no one had bothered to correct it.

Not surprising when one considers that the agency's website is basically useless for families looking to find care homes for their loved ones. They can get a list of facilities but no useful or reliable information on the licensing status of each, much less the documentation on past violations.

This is basic information that should be made easily available online. Performing inspections and issuing citations are just one part of the necessary oversight of care homes. They are of little use to the public if the paperwork is kept buried in file cabinets.

Fixing this should not be hard. The states of Florida and Washington have managed to put useful information about residential care facilities online, as has the California Department of Public Health about nursing homes.

At first, a Social Services Department spokesman said creating a similar system for residential care homes would be too costly but admitted he didn't know how much it would cost. Then agency Director Will Lightbourne told legislators it could be done for a "modest" cost.

The biggest obstacle is not money; it's a will to get the job done. That seems to be lacking at the agency. We will see if that changes.