16 March 2008

Bureaucracy cutting: so many possibilities

One can do nothing but laugh at those who think National’s policy for not growing the bureaucracy will cause chaos and ruin. Besides being a bit wimpish, the truth is that far too many in the public sector are far from over worked and even more simply do things that are fundamentally useless.

I spent several years in the state sector, observing officials from many departments and seeing the differences in culture between them. There were always some hard working ones, and of them, some were heavily misguided – undertaking tasks that, with all honesty, did no good at all. One was to register postal operators.

Despite all the best efforts of the officials at the time, MPs, against advice, decided that when postal services were deregulated in 1998 it couldn’t be allowed for new companies to simply set up and carry mail. No. Because the Police were concerned that (wait for it) drug dealers could set up competing mail operators and use these services to distribute drugs (because you’d do that wouldn’t you?), a handful of MPs caved into pressure and decided that every company that wanted to carry mail had to be registered with what is now the Ministry of Economic Development.

This registration process includes, believe it or not, a Police vetting. That Police vetting is to ensure the director of the postal company has not been convicted of a range of criminal offences, excluding murder and rape. You can not carry mail if you have ever been convicted for possessing cannabis, but if you committed murder you can.

By the way none of this applies to couriers or trucking companies, only postal operators. Of course, drug dealers and fraudsters were all keen to get into the mail business weren't they?

It’s all completely absurd.

This is only one type of ridiculous bureaucracy that exists. There are many more throughout the public sector. The creation of endless “strategies” is another. Search the word "strategy" at govt.nz and you'll find one that is applicable to you - that you were not consulted on and which is trying to get people to do all sorts of things.

Imagine if a bureaucrat had developed an "online strategy" 20 years ago - would have been brilliant wouldn't it? You wouldn't be reading blogs now would you? You might have had to go to a community resource centre to access terminals with a central database of government supplied information.

So there are many ways to cut the state sector that National could pursue, although it might face some questioning about the one I just mentioned. Since it was something National approved when it was in coalition with NZ First.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have worked in the public sector for little less than a year now. I started out with grand ideas of serving the public, but we don't do that. We serve the Minister, who notionally serves the public, but whose first priority in reality is to get themselves re-elected. A sad state of affairs.