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The Disease Called Bureaucracy Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by TOPH, Philippines Oct 20, 2003
Human Rights   Opinions


Many people once thought that “Red Tide” was the worst non-human epidemic… now, the same people who encountered “Red Tape” now think otherwise. Red Tape could be said to be an epidemic, the saddening part is that while “Red Tide” has its seasons, “Red Tape” does not occur at a particular time. Red Tape is a disease brought about by the bureaucracy or the misuse of it, which corrodes the Government system bit by bit until it seems to be paralyzed.

In the article entitled “Bureaucracy”, Max Weber talks about the typical character found in bureaucracies. Some of these characters are 1) Fixed responsibility, 2) Have abundant hierarchical levels, 3) Governed by “the file” or by written documents, 4) Gearing towards a modern office management and 5) Fixed compensation for its employees. Too much of bureaucracy brings the “dumb ox” in every government employee. Max Webber added that people in bureaucracies treat their positions as a vocation, he also implicated that there are “patterns” one has to see in bureaucracies, these are: 1) Governed by social esteem, meaning a higher position is that which brings a person a higher social prestige, 2) People in position are usually appointed by people from higher position and 3) People are not usually promoted according to merits but according to seniority.

It would have been a God send for the Philippine bureaucracy would just be like the SMART Company. For sure, people will start exclaiming how simply amazing the bureaucracy would run. Ms. Annette Santiago talks about people in SMART needing to “make their grade”. If people in the Government Service were graded, they might just receive a mark below passing.

Sincerely, no one should be against the people working in the system, but one should be at angst at how the system imbues its people to work. We have a sick system called “bureaucracy” and it should be vaccinated hastily.

The symptoms of this disease have already manifested its effects among people in the bureaucratic government. Some of these symptoms are: 1) Exaggerated aloofness of the people working in a higher position with respect to the people under them, 2) Resistance to Change, 3) Being panicky when by-passed and 4) Holding too much to rules because of the delusion of being unsubordinated.

The recommended vaccine for this disease is simply treating people like people, stated the USEC of DOST in one of her seminars. She storied how some DOST high-ranking officials usually snob people and make them feel that they are inexistent. She said that these people, no matter how low their positions maybe in the bureaucracy, should also be treated with the same respect given to other DOST officials. She added that one should never grow tired of greeting their employees.

While bureaucracy could be referred to as a means of creating a smooth orderly system, it is a fact that many functions are just becoming redundant. Maybe we can blame it to our past Spanish Colonial heritage where, as Jose Endriga explicated, people buy positions and profit from these positions if possible. However, fixing the blame wont do our nation any good. Endriga also mentioned the imposition of an orderly system such as “decentralization, standardization, creation of NEDA and savings method” during the Martial Law. We need not to have another martial law to promote change, do we?

By following Edgar Schein procedures of organizational effectiveness, such as 1) sensing the external/ internal environment, 2) Importing information, 3) Changing procedures and processes, 4) Stabilizing internal change, 5) Exporting products and services and by 6) Getting feedbacks; coupled with the Reengineering schemes of Hammer and Champy, and Rodriguez and Acuña or implementation of Amelia Alonzo’s Pag-Ibig Fund Reorganization, we could heal the nation of “bureau-sis”. We should act now before it’s too late.



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Since 2003 I've been an active contributor of Panorama. I am grateful for this online magazine for allowing individuals to be able to share their ideas and expression to other youth across the globe. Exchanges of ideas and aspirations leads to empowerment and spark of inspiration.

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