Shutdown the Federal Government
Have you ever tried to change a light bulb in a lamp that belongs to the Federal Government? It’s laughably sad, but illustratively eye opening when you land on the topic of the Federal Government shutting down.
An acquaintance of mine, a civil engineer with the Corp of Engineers once conveyed to me a story about the lamp in his cubicle at work; you see, the bulb had burnt out and need to be replaced. This was his first month as a Federal employee, and being “the new guy” he felt it was best that he display some of the “go-getter” attitude that would normally be rewarded in the private sector by just replacing the bulb himself.
When he asked the engineer in the cubicle next to his where the supply closet was so he could retrieve and install a new bulb – he was gawked at, and then informed that he could not replace the bulb himself, a work order would need to be submitted.
That work order would then go to the facilities maintenance team who would then need to send someone to confirm the light bulb was indeed burnt out. This person would then need to bring in a requisitions team member to inspect the lamp, to double check that it was in fact burnt out, and to ascertain what part number the light bulb was to be able to order a replacement.
The requisition officer would then need to place the bulb on a purchase order – which needed to go to a supervisor for authorization before it could be submitted to purchasing. Which supervisor? All of them. The engineers supervisor needed to sign off on his team member NEEDING the bulb, maintenance needed to sign off on the bulb actually being burnt out, and requisitions needed to sign off on the bulb being a part that they could order.
Only then could the replacement light bulb be ordered. It would then take weeks for the bulb itself to arrive from the Government contracted provider to the requisitions department who would then log it into inventory and inform facilities that their part had arrived.
Another form now, one from facilities to requisitions asking for the bulb to be withdrawn from inventory in order to replace a burnt out bulb – signed by supervisors of course. Requisitions would then sign the bulb out and dispatch it internally via the mail clerk to the facilities maintenance department, who would both log it in and then back out with a technician for installation at the engineer’s desk.
This process involved no less than a half dozen people, multiple levels of management, one external private contractor, and 3 weeks of time – to replace a light bulb at a desk. When the technician arrived at the desk to replace the bulb he found that the light was working and no longer in need of replacement.
The engineer, fed up with not having a working light at his station had taken the burnt out bulb to a local hardware store and bought a replacement himself.
The Federal Government is fresh off of a shutdown, and in a short time will begin another shutdown if a funding deal is not met between House Democrats and President Trump and one has to wonder if that is such a bad thing? The Federal Government has grown to such a large behemoth that nobody can even say with absolute certainty how many agencies and departments actually exist anymore. All we do know is that they all need funded, and they all have light bulbs to replace.
With our national debt continuing to increase at an unsustainable rate, and layers upon layers of bureaucracy driving those costs up, perhaps a Federal Shutdown is exactly what we need right now. Just like a malfunctioning computer, it may be time to “turn it off and then on again” as tech support would advise. Then, to continue my use of IT tips and tricks, it might be time to delete some cookies, wipe the cache, and format a hard drive or two.
During my campaign for Congress one thing that, now, Representative Russ Fulcher and I often said in unison was that the Federal Government was too big. I advocated for reducing it, and its oversight, by as much as 80% and Rep. Fulcher agreed.
I say shut the Government down, and while the lights are off – trim the fat as much as possible. Maybe recall some of the old guard Congress-members responsible for bloating the Fed to its current morbidly obese size?
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