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Friday, April 4, 2008

The Bureaucratic Imperative

It appears that most government employees were out sick when they were scheduled to attend the class where they were to be taught how to spell the words C-I-V-I-L, S-E-R-V-A-N-T, C-U-S-T-O-M-E-R and S-E-R-V-I-C-E. And they never took the makeup class either.

Instead they appear to be guided by the Bureaucratic Imperative.

Here are some rules - with thanks from the writings and sayings of various sources including James Boren, Morris Udall, and Professor C. Northcote Parkinson :

Rule #1: To look busy without actually having to do any work

Note that meetings are an excellent way of passing the time of day without actually having to do any work.

Rule #2: To remember that if you control the agenda and the minutes, you control the outcome.

This is Bureaucracy 101 but has become harder to execute, at least in the upper reaches of government, with ever rampant leaks to the media

Rule #3: Never, ever, under-spend your annual budget – even if you have to waste vast sums of money. The reward for under-spending is to have your budget cut next year with extremely detrimental impact on your prospects for promotion.

Rule #4: To cause as much aggravation as possible to the following classes of people: ordinary taxpaying citizens; persons employed by (I won’t say ‘working for’) other governments – foreign or domestic; persons in other departments of the government that employs you; and, if there is no alternative, to aggravate person in your own department.

The abuses of patronage hiring in government were legendary but, at least, there was some accountability. Government employees were expected to deliver services of an adequate quality so that their patrons would be re-elected for eternity. If not, termination was swift and brutal.

Civil Service rules protect the employees but at the expense of citizens and taxpayers. The pendulum has been swinging towards employees for over 100 years. It is time for a change - even though the the current administration's political appointments have been marked by cronyism without competence. Cronyism is bearable but not when it is accompanied by incompetence.

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