Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

The four faces of bureaucracy

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In recent posts on this Blog, and some other local Blogs, the authors have questioned various local government decisions that appear to defy common sense, the will of the people and even logic itself.

I think someone over at ON LINE Opinion – Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate must have found the bureaucrats handbook and leaked the following chapter. Here are some extracts of that post – click on the link to read the full article

The great government philosophers

By George Fripley – posted Wednesday, 30 July 2008 … extracts from On LINE opinion

Many great thinkers have spent years studying government and how it should work.

… These individuals are Obstrucius, Burocrates, Futilius and Dillayus.

Obstrucius – the first and greatest

… There is no record of the death of Obstrucius and it is widely rumoured that he is immortal and continues to run governments all over the world.

  • By three methods may we run government: First, by obstruction, which is noblest; second, by procrastination, which is easiest; and third by out-sourcing, which is dearest.
  • To be able to practice the five paradigms everywhere in government constitutes perfect virtue: delay decisions, cover one’s arse, show no initiative, don’t communicate and remain anonymous.
  • He who speaks without jargon will find it difficult to achieve promotion in government.
  • The will to confuse, the desire to delay, the urge to reach complete anonymity … these are the keys that will unlock the door to public service excellence.
  • A public servant who commits a mistake and doesn’t correct it should follow government paradigm number two.

Burocrates – the Greek perspective

… He leaves us with some notable quotes of his including:

  • The pure art of government should be unsullied by the ticking of the clock.
  • Where the path appears straight and without danger, extra care should be taken and your pace slowed.
  • A quick decision is like a premature ejaculation. It deprives the bureaucrat of respect and leaves him feeling unsatisfied.
  • The vote is a precious thing, its value priceless. Never have so many people been kept happy by such a futile act.
  • Let a politician announce decisions and keep him happy for a day. Let a politician think he made the decisions, and keep him happy for a whole term of government.

Futilius – the study of committees

… Five of his best known quotes are included below.

  • Chairs should every night call themselves to an account. What decision have they delayed today? What proposals opposed? What innovation resisted? What public servant frustrated? Other people’s projects will abort of themselves if they be brought every day to this account.
  • Be extremely vague, even to the point of deferral. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of confusion. Thereby you can be the director of the public servant’s demise into insanity.
  • All public servants servicing the Board pass through three stages. First, they are ridiculed. Second, they are violently opposed. Third, it is accepted that they are too difficult to change and they are ignored.
  • All Board meetings are based on procrastination. There is no place where the brakes are not applied. Offer the public servants hope to lure them in, and then trap them in a cage of frustration.
  • Where no policy exists, ask for a new one; where a policy exists, ask for a new one; where there is no need for a policy, insist on a new one.

Dillayus – out of the shadow of Futilius

… His gems of wisdom include:

  • When in doubt, employ an outside expert to review all information.
  • The pure joy of procrastination is unrivalled by any other experience in government.
  • When all other means of obstruction have been exhausted, all that is left is public consultation, the mother of all delaying tactics.
  • There is never enough information to make a decision. Those who disagree are not in possession of all the facts.
  • When all is lost and a decision is inevitable, take solace in the fact that you did everything possible to prevent it

Does this story remind you of anyone you know in local government?


Written by Greg Naylor

11 August 2008 at 12:00 am

Posted in social comment

One Response

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  1. Thanks for the enlightenment, Greg, but the reality is that I’m not the least bit surprised by these cynical truths.


    11 August 2008 at 6:58 am

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