Mike Hall: Cutting through the red tape

Contact Mike Hall at mhall19@cox.net.

God bless the bureaucrats.


That’s not an expression one hears often, but it’s true. And we’re not talking strictly about government bureaucrats. They are in business, too.

Bureaucrats have training and experience in their fields. They have a moderating influence over the politicians and CEOs they serve. Does the name Trump come to mind?

Still, there is room for criticism of some bureaucrats who give the rest a bad name.

Dr. James H. Boren did it with humor. He claimed to be president of the International Association of Professional Bureaucrats (INATAPROBU), an organization he created and which I suspect consisted of one member: Boren.

I heard him speak in Wichita years ago while I was attending an annual convention of the League of Kansas Municipalities.

Boren said he was honored to be among “colleagues who recognized the importance of dynamic inaction.”

“We recognize that nothing should be done for the first time,” he said.

INATAPROBU’s motto is “when in charge, ponder … when in trouble, delegate … when in doubt, mumble.”

He demonstrated two types of mumbling: vertical mumbling, which some would call double talk, and linear mumbling, which anyone would call mumbling.

Through the use of “prodigious pondering” and “old irresolution,” bureaucrats are determined to see that nothing is done, thereby preventing mistakes from being made.

“Contrary to popular opinion,” he added, “bureaucrats are not opposed to cutting red tape, as long as it is cut lengthwise.”

INATAPROBU gives a trophy for classic examples of bureaucratic abuse to government agencies and private enterprise alike.

“The Order of the Bird,” as the award is called, has been presented, or at least offered, to such agencies as the Occupational Health and Safety Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It also has been offered to a national car leasing company whose colors are yellow and black, he adds, for its practice of confirming reservations on cars without checking its central computer to find out if the cars really are available.

His favorite target at the time was the U.S. Postal Service. His organization once sent letters to various points around the country by special delivery and by regular mail.

He found that only 20.3 percent of the special delivery letters arrived before the letters sent by regular mail.

In 25 percent of the cases, the special delivery letters arrived after the letters sent by regular mail. The remainder arrived at the same time.

He once issued a statement calling for the return of the pony express to speed up the mail. For emphasis, he carried mail on horseback from Philadelphia to Washington.

“We did beat the regular mail — some of it by as much as eight days,” he said.

He said his efforts were providing some positive results: “Some forms were abolished; some reporting procedures have been consolidated.

“We have dedicated people at all levels who really want to do a good job,” he said. “I’m trying to help the doers cut through the red tape.”

Contact Mike Hall at mhall19@cox.net.



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