Bureaucrats at the Gates

Devenbert here.

I had another shining example yesterday of bureaucrats at play. They like to make things up, just because they want to show they can. One of the bad things about bureaucrats is that most of the time they have no idea what they are doing when they make things up.

My biggest peeve about work lately has been the flood of unofficial policies and edicts that have been issued. Flood is too mild a word… torrent, tsunami, tidal surge… yeah, tidal surge fits. I would have no problem if these were signed official policies, but we still have bosses that are afraid to put pen to paper and take responsibility for anything. Which is another bureaucratic trait that I may rant about in a future entry.

The bosses know that there are enough people in the workforce that will take hearsay as gospel or that are boot lickers, naive or just simply burned out, and will docilely accept whatever unofficial edict they send our way. Work gets mired down because these folks will not budge if they are confronted with conflicting information as they mindlessly follow unsigned policies. It is becoming impossible to get any software released these days.

I am sure I didn’t score points with the pointy haired bosses yesterday. They passed another edict that we had to start including internal software development team statistics and other information in the public and external descriptions for patches and software releases. This does serve two purposes for them. First, if anything gets questioned by higher-up pointy haired bosses they get to point at the nearly meaningless data and say “<my ass is covered> Look at the data I brung you!! It is not my fault! </my ass is covered>.” Second, the one group of computer savvy folk they have not been able to repress are the fine folk that work at all the VA Medical Centers. This edict would have the effect of burying these folk with information that is useless for them to do their jobs efficiently. The only purpose of this edict is to create a paper(less) trail that will prove that the pointy haired bosses did nothing wrong while sitting on their thumbs, covering their asses. I does not do anything to improve patient care, which is the business we are in.

The bureaucrats insist that this internal information must be documented in the patching system, and therefore must be in the public description. I guess the one good things about bureaucrats is that most of the time they don’t know what they are doing when they make things up. This does open small windows of opportunity from time to time.

You see, the patching system has a little used data field named “INTERNAL COMMENTS”. It is where we’d put internal statistics and other information for those rare occasions when it was really necessary (and in my opinion putting information there just to cover some bureaucrat’s ass does not fit my definition of necessary.)

I pointed this out, publicly. Very publicly. The part about there already being a non-public place to put this data, a place that will not impact the fine computer folk at the VA Medical Centers. Not the part about bosses asses. A few of my fellow malcontents spoke up in support. The pointy haired bosses twisted their own words around to make it sound as if they were insulted that we would assume that this edict was in any way official. (That is how bureaucrats retract things, they fake being insulted.)

Regardless, the edict was quashed, which is the important thing. Yes, we developers will still have to regurgitate nearly meaningless statistics, but at least the good folks that maintain the computers that directly support patient care have been protected for another day.

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