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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bush’s Speech to Congress – I Don’t Think

I don’t expect to read about this speech, but it sure would be interesting….

“As the Gulf Coast struggled to cope with and to recover from Hurricane Katrina, as I heard tale after tale of federal bureaucratic obstruction of relief efforts, I turned to aides and said, ‘Fix it!’ But I soon learned that they couldn’t fix it; and I couldn’t fix it. For that, we must turn to you.

“Federal civil service jobs are something close to de facto lifetime appointments, the significance of which we have recently been contemplating due to the vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. However, in the case of civil service positions, the problems are not derived from an erroneous hire or an individual’s shortcomings. They are endemic, due to the nature of large bureaucracies. Bureaucracies are self-perpetuating. Its members may become more involved in the life and politics of the bureaucracy than in the task for which the bureaucracy was created. They typically become more complex and hidebound as they grow. A government bureaucracy is particularly prone to the unfortunate tendencies of bureaucracies in general, because it is not in immediate and direct competition with others, and thus has little short-term incentive to be responsive to the needs of those it purports to serve. Instead, to justify and ensure their existence and growth, federal bureaucracies promulgate ever-growing masses and mazes of regulations, which entwine themselves around the economic arteries of our nation – our businesses and entrepreneurs – and threaten their continued health and vigor. And a large government bureaucracy is particularly ill-suited to any task which requires fast responses, flexibility and improvisation. We have all learned this the hard – the tragic – way in recent weeks.

“Tinkering with details will not ‘fix it.’ What we need is a complete rethinking of our government’s entire approach to getting things done. We need to find ways to decentralize without entirely abdicating oversight. We need to restructure in ways that bring back accountability and flexibility. And we need established procedures for ignoring established procedures when necessary!

“Part of this restructuring, I believe, will have to be a fundamental change in the nature of government employment. There is no reason that civil service employees cannot be judged on their performance, much as employees in private businesses are judged. We can and must retain protections against treating employees differently based on race or gender – but it is time to treat employees differently based on whether they are indeed helping the people it is their job to serve.

“[Etc. Contributions to this speech, or revisions to put it in the proper George W. style, are invited... as are corrections to my factual assumptions about civil service employment.]

1 comment:

Paul Hager said...

You have clearly been hanging out around me too much... ;-)

Actually the BRAC process the DoD has gone through several times has performed a salutary culling function. I'd argue that the DoD bureaucracy is probably the most efficient and productive of the federal bureaucracies as a result. Let that statement sink in for a moment and consider how scary it is, if accurate.