3 responses to “WTF #6: Bureaucracy”

  1. Government Engineer

    I don’t want to sound unpleasant but I have no other way to convey this other then just right out. You really have no idea how bad it can get. Try working for the Government, the ultimate bureaucracy. I work as an EE for a DoD research lab.

    At least in the private sector there’s a natural restraint to increasing bureaucracy: profit incentive to be efficient. The government does not have incentive to be efficient. Bureaucracy grows at an uncontrolled rate.

    I’d like to vent my grief in citing examples. Most would take too long to convey, some would get me fired for mentioning. I will say this. To order a $5 network cable right now requires a 10 stop approval process via 3 different computer systems, has to join a pool of similar orders before getting transmitted to DC for final approval. Then comes back down to local admin to be put on a buyer’s desk where it gets some more scrutiny. If all is found to be properly filled, then it will get ordered. This whole process can take a month or so. Once it comes in, then it sits on a receiving dock for a week or so before more paperwork is processed to show it is received then I can pick up my cable.

    O, and if I had the urge to just buy a cable out of pocket to get the job done, I’d technically be committing a crime, and lose my job. Something about committing the government. Don’t ask me to explain it. No expensing lunches here.

    I’m about as low on the management poll as one can get, true-est form of ‘just engineer’ yet I have to deal with this purchasing system weekly. Not to mention silly things like “Radio emitter self-audits” and other nonsense.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. The fact that I design and build things that keep war fighters out of harms way is very fulfilling, and I get to leverage government education outreach money to do cool things like visit schools and get kids interested in STEM.

    But nothing any private sector engineers/management types will ever see will come close to the bureaucracy of the government. No private company could survive a day in the free market if it came close to how bad the government piles it on.

    1. Fluxor

      Great story. I’ve never worked for government, so I can only live vicariously through stories such as these. Your experience seems pretty consistent with the stores I’ve heard over the years. It seems to me there’s efficiency and then there’s fairness and oversight. Unfortunately, these are competing specs in the system and government tends to pile on the oversight bureaucracy in order to create the perception of fairness. Of course, oversight only pertains to the little people. Politicians often seem to create backdoors for their high powered friends and allies, and of course, themselves.

  2. GEARS

    In academia, the best expression about bureaucracy is this:

    “In academia, the fights are so fierce because the stakes are so little.”

    People want to hold on to their little niche with a death grip like the guy in office space that just walks paper work around (the jump-to-conclusions-mat guy).

    With that said, it’s not so bad here. The only difficulties I’ve had are needing components ASAP, which I buy and then get reimbursed. No biggie.