Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Less Government, More Freedom

I just finished reading John Stossel's (the 20/20 correspondent) book "Give Me a Break". It confirmed what I have been thinking over the past few years: there is too much government. Why do we - the people - need more government? People complain about having to deal with a bureaucracy that moves at a snails pace (how many jokes have you heard about waiting in line at the DMV?) or having to deal with all the red tape, but are turning more and more to the government to "fix their problem". These people fail to see that it is the government that is causing the problem in the first place.

Now this may not sound like much of a revelation, except that I am a government employee. The place I work at was a great place to work when I started. But over the past three or so years, it has become something that disgusts me. My old department had a flat structure: one Commissioner, two Managers, 6 senior positions, 6 junior positions and 5 administrative and technical support positions. There was a recent attempt at a reorganization that resulted in my department being split into two separate departments (though we implement the same provincial legislation). Now I report to a Supervisor AND a Manager.

Before the reorg, I would circulate files for comments to about 6 to 10 departments and agencies. Now, I circulate a file to at least 15 to 20 departments and agencies. Reports are now reviewed by my Supervisor and my Manager; previously, my Manager would perform a cursory review of the report - he was more interested in spelling mistakes and grammar because he trusted us to defend our reports. Every single process has become more complex, more time-consuming. We have regular pre-meetings aka a meeting to talk about a future meeting. Everybody has to be "on the same page" and we have to "build consensus". My reports have become at least one to two pages longer and much of that is background information, not additional analysis or alternative recommendations.

Back to that reorg. The public was told the purpose of the reorg was to make government efficient and cost-effective. The real reason was to eliminate a handful of senior administrators under the guise of reorganization. The reorg resulted in numerous people being promoted to jobs that were not open to competition. The number of new jobs posted over the past two years is mind boggling. There is at least 1 to 2 new management positions each month. My old flat department now has more managers, more supervisors, more front line staff, but tasks take longer to complete and everybody wants to put in their two cents. This government is not more efficient, nor has it saved money. My employer has a $200 million debt - a debt incurred during one of the best growth periods, ever. And people want the government to do more? I don't think so.

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