Monday, March 20, 2006

New Rules...

As I was being probed by the Auditors today, a couple new Rules of Bureaucracy sprung to mind.

First one comes from a previous posting over at Faceless Bureaucrat, from which I'll quote as follows:

[O]utsiders to an institution believe that knowledge is like blood in the body--it's everywhere, so what anyone in the institution knows everyone knows.
Good observation there; I want it to be a bit more encompassing.

Rule #17: Within any bureaucratic structure, resources (e.g. people, money, knowledge, etc.) are not distributed uniformly.

Heck, even the universe isn't distributed evenly, why should information?

Anyway, as FB points out, to outsiders the whole Bureaucratic structure is uniform: you should be able to slice it and dice it and each piece should be pretty much the same as the others. Of course, that's not true; uniformity breaks down as soon as people start to specialize in different aspects of an organization. Otherwise, we'd all be managers, accountants, PR people, database gurus, project developers, and secretaries.*

But, with that in mind, here's another twist:

Rule #18: Money is not created equal.

One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with contentious members of the public is the common misconception: "You have money to do Project X, so why can't you do Project Z?" The answer, of course, is that "We don't have money to do Project Z," or, more accurately, "We don't have Project Z-type money to do Project Z." Money, for the Government, is not interchangable.

While it may make sense, from an outsider's perspective, to swap out money from one Project to another, it is, in fact, impossible. If you could swap out money willy-nilly, you would invite fraud, corruption, and, my personal favorite, misappropriation of funds.

Of course, now that you have the money for Project X, you have to spend it... else they may never give you money again.

So Project Z isn't going to be funded people, unless you can find more Project Z-type money. You will, however, get a tunnel under the river... whether you like it or not.

* Actually, that pretty much describes my job. Maybe The Bureaucracy IS fairly homogenous... scary.

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