Home > Uncategorized > The dangers of bureaucracy.

The dangers of bureaucracy.

Ishmael Jones (not his real name), a former CIA agent who blogs occasionally for NRO, wrote this insightful piece about the dangers of bureaucracy when it comes to intelligence gathering. However, I think his overall message can be shared in other areas that are hampered by bureaucracy:

The real dollar cost of bureaucrats is much greater than their salaries and benefits alone, because bureaucrats strive to look busy and to rise within the establishment, to control more funds and people. So they invent programs. A CIA contractor may take home $300k and his or her spouse another $300, with benefits at perhaps another $50k. We can still bear this burden. What we cannot bear are the $100 million programs these people create in order to advance themselves. Programs crowd out real espionage, which doesn’t cost much. Good operations need only the cost of hotel rooms, airline tickets, and payments to sources.

If highly paid employees at a college are not involved in education, then what are they doing? I suspect many are doing the same things that CIA managers do in Washington , DC: attending meetings, drawing up budgets, jockeying for position and influence, solidifying their political power, and doing whatever it takes to look busy.

Bureaucracy’s effect on human nature is fascinating. Its growth into a living creature within the CIA provides important lessons and warnings for the design and leadership of other institutions.

More here.

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  1. goy
    April 11, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Chris, having worked in the insurance industry, I can tell you that this same dynamic is in effect there, to everyone else’s detriment. It’s a huge part of what has caused health care costs to skyrocket at rates multiple times that of inflation, which has in turn created the so-called health care “crisis” recently exploited by the left.

  2. April 12, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Absolutely, goy. The bureaucracy has gotten so vast that when I worked at KPMG, there eight different agencies that KPMG had to report to ensure that auditors were “independent” when they audit other firms, and that’s excluding KPMG’s own requirements for “independence”. The training program that I had to complete read like the Federal Regulations and was just as complex.

    It seems that a lot of these bureaucracies can be done away with, but they need to justify their existence. And it’s not like they ever evaluate themselves to determine if they are part of the problem (see, Housing Crisis, The Start Of).

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