On Bureaucratic Incompetence

The common complaint about bureaucrats is that it seems they don’t really know what goes on out here “in the real world”.


Interesting meeting with one of our customers this week. They are dealing with a bureaucracy as part of their operations and they need to work with this bureaucracy to assist their clients obtain and retain registration to operate within the particular industry.

Now, I’m not sure about you, but my (probably misplaced) belief is that bureaucracies should exist to assist the section of the broader community that they were created to serve.

How can it be then, that this bureaucracy, which regulates and approves businesses to trade has not the first clue about how the sector actually runs?

Some examples?  OK, try these on for size:

  • no understanding of the form of the contract that is standard in the industry;
  • absolutely no understanding of the way that businesses in the industry account for income, expenses, assets and liabilities;
  • a demonstrated absence of clarity about how cashflows in the industry work; and
  • adopting a “slave to the process” approach rather than looking at what is really happening – if there is a box that needs to be ticked because someone(unknown) says it needs to be ticked, then, if it cannot be ticked, they will close the business down.

From our client’s perspective, the regulator’s approach is one which is great for their business.  Lots of clients approach them for assistance in dealing with the myopia that is prevalent in the organisation that registers and re-registers the operators in that industry,  BUT, as our client indicated, the approach they are forced to deal with from “big brother” is one which wastes an incredible amount of time, resources, effort and emotional energy.  All because the bureaucrats do not understand the first thing about what they are trying to regulate.

For the sake of some education and appreciation of the peculiarities of this particular industry, the whole process could run much more smoothly and the regulator might actually be able to get on with doing their real job rather than being consumed servicing an ineffective process and creating mayhem in the process.

We all have a grizzle about dealing with bureaucrats – it’s almost a national past-time.  In this case, the grizzle is warranted as the effects of the incompetence displayed is creating a reality that is adversely impacting on a large sector of industry – and it need not be the case.

Having clarity about the industry and its processes will enable systems to be designed and implemented that actually do what they are supposed to do.  Designing and implementing systems and processes that bear no resemblance to reality just wastes everyone’s time.

Happy to speak with anyone from the Victorian Government about this.  They have created an unworkable outcome for an industry that simply doesn’t need it.

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