“Waste Fraud and Abuse”

by on November 29, 2008 · 8 comments

Incidentally, the bureaucratic dynamic I wrote about in my last post also explains why efforts to “reinvent government” to reduce “waste, fraud, and abuse” never work very well. The problem isn’t that there’s no waste, fraud or abuse, or even that these policies don’t succeed in rooting some of it out. Rather, the problem is that policies designed to make government more efficient and accountable accumulate over time. So the new policies the Obama administration implements to deal with mismanagement that occurred under the Bush administration will largely co-exist with policies implemented under the Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy, and Eisenhower administrations to deal with problems observed under their predecessors. There was probably a good reason for each set of rules by itself, but when you add them up, the result is a kind of death of a thousand cuts where federal bureaucrats can’t get anything done because doing anything requires a huge amount of paperwork. And then of course we have “paperwork reduction acts” where we hire a whole new set of bureaucrats to promulgate still more rules ostensibly designed to make the earlier rules less complicated. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t work especially well.

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