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More talk about our crisis
Jack Balshaw 9/25/01

I was hoping that the WTC catastrophe would bring about some straight talk and a lessening of turf protection from the various federal agencies. It just may be too soon for these entrenched agencies and their career personnel to change their outlook on how to operate. Or, perhaps, it's still "business as usual".

For the traditional bureaucracy, this crisis is the same as a kid finding the candy store unlocked. The message being flashed to every agency that has any jurisdiction in this matter is, "Now's the time to expand your personel base, get all the equipment you've ever wanted and lock in a continually larger budget." In the private sector, businesses grow by selling more products or services. In the public sector, "business" can only "grow" by the organization becoming bigger.

More people means more bosses and more office space. More bosses means that more existing employees will get promoted to supervise the new employees who will be hired to perform the new tasks that agency hopes to be assigned. More space means that those promoted will have bigger and fancier offices.

This may sound cynical but I think it's more real world. These bureaucrats will perform the tasks assigned to them and they will further the government's policy goals. But, just like employees in the private sector, they like to be paid well and have a nice place to work. The government doesn't offer stock options or year end bonuses so position in the chain of command and a pleasant space to work in is how they get rewarded.

Talk about mixed messages. On the same day the President gives a speech encouraging people to use the airlines more, he also gives two generals the authority to give the order to shoot down planes that could be a threat. I wonder how that type of marketing would work for any commercial product. 


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