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Friday, September 16, 2016

CUTTING WASTE


CUTTING WASTE

A Cranky Opinion for

CRANKY OPINION SATURDAY

The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with zero government bureaucracy experience.  Opposing opinions are welcome and may even be considered.  As always, please, no name calling…that means you, you big stupid-head!

Recently one of the Presidential candidates recommended rebuilding our military and claimed it would be paid for by cutting waste and streamlining bureaucracy.  I have no problem with this, I think it is an excellent idea.  I have no doubt that the high cost of building up our military could easily be covered by cutting government waste and streamlining bureaucracy; if the waste was corporate waste.  I’m not sure that government waste is so easily cut.

In my corporate experience cutting waste was fairly simple. 

Management would tell lower management that costs needed to be reduced. 

Lower management would inform management that they were already running a bare bones operation and any cuts without serious degradation of the business would be absolutely impossible.

Upper management would then mandate budget cuts of 10% across the board…no exceptions.

Lower management would then make the necessary cuts and guess what, operations continued to run just fine.  How was this possible?

Lower management is always aware that cuts may be looming.  As processes become streamlined through improved technology and or economies of scale there is the opportunity to reduce costs.  Lower management is loath to reduce costs on their own. 

Why? 

Well for one thing, manager’s importance tends to be viewed by the size of their budget.  Reduce your budget and not only are you not rewarded, you are perceived as less important.  Higher management may even see the opportunity to combine departments and your job is toast.

No indeed, lower management has no incentive to reduce costs, and will never admit they are over staffed.  When asked to reduce costs, they will never admit there is excess, but when told to reduce costs or else…it is not a problem.

I am sure this reluctance to cut costs that is in the corporate environment is the same in government.  I am not sure that any one-person in government, even the President, can simply mandate cost reductions.  There are probably many levels that pass on such a request and each level will have the same reluctance as corporate managers for the same reasons.  Government probably requires “expert” studies for every reduction, and probably has rules in place that make staff reductions difficult.

This is one of the largest problems with government and would explain why as businesses become more streamlined and costs have been reduced by the tremendous efficiency gains we have seen through technology in the last 40 years, government spending just keeps growing.

The corporate world mandates action, and people find a way to make it work.  Government has expensive feasibility studies, and the studies explain why cost cutting is impossible.

The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.

20 comments:

  1. Your astute observations are probably classified under Top Secret, you know!

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  2. As a former bureaucrat I must tell you that programs do get cut all the time and people take on two or three programs and fail to do them all well. Note the VA and its problems. DOD is now over 50% of our budget and rarely faces cuts. Even the Generals express dismay sometimes at the increase in their budgets without need. But those defense contractors wait eagerly to alleviate the excess money. You are correct in that Feds are hard to let go and have protections. But the govt. now has more and more contractors and those are easy to fire.

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  3. I was in the USMC as a Supply Clerk. Every year, at the end of the year, each unit would use up the remainder of their budget on useless crap just so they could justify asking for more the following year.

    We must stop this mindset in Washington DC.

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  4. Waste can be cut, but one person's waste is another person's living, so the fights go on.

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  5. study after study and recommendation after recommendation - just adds to the cost.

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  6. This is (actually) a very good post.

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  7. Yep, I so remember the mindset. It has existed since the first government agency was put into place.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  8. I concur with Timothy Hecht. It's called "Use it or lose it". If you don't spend all of your budget authorization you will not like get it the next year, so use it or lose it. A friend of mine was in maintenance at a federal prison. He confirmed that they would routinely blow money just so they could be dead broke on the last day of their fiscal year. He told the story of how one year they dug a big hole and pushed a perfectly good tractor/backhoe in and covered it up, then went out and bought a new tractor. Another friend, an electrical contractor, told of how the Army took several old WWII-era barracks and gutted them and then built them back like new...and they were never used as they were scheduled to be torn down the next year anyway, all just so they could get their same or a larger budget the next year. And Congress goes along with this because all these scams are profitable to their campaign donors. So, yeah, as you say, good luck with cutting the federal budget anytime soon.

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    Replies
    1. The "use it or lose it" method is used in the schools out here in Idaho too. My sis is a social worker and the different counties in Michigan use the same method. In fact, she just told me about one of her clients needing help but there was no money in the county she lived in but if she lived 15 miles to the east, plenty of money. All use it or lose it.

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  9. I can't imagine how many levels the gov. has to go thru to mandate anything! Trump is a a businessman. Maybe he can turn things around.

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  10. The government, "of the people, by the people, for the people," has painted itself into a corner. Even if the whole shebang collapsed and WE had to start all over again...who thinks it's going to be that different from what we have now?! (My father was a civilian government worker for 35 years, my husband was retired Army and a veteran of two wars, my son is a civilian government worker with the VA and I worked for a southern state for apx. 4 years).

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  11. I get tired of hearing politicians talk about how programs can be paid for by eliminating waste, yet this never seems to happen.

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  12. I am positive that there is lots of waste in government. However, the three largest items for the Feds are military spending, the VA, and Medicare.

    You could cut everything else by 50% and we'd still be running deficits if you didn't cut those items.

    How are we going to increase two of those three items and still bring the budget into shape?

    I'm not convinced by what any candidate is saying on the national level.

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  13. Ohh, my head hurts. All that justification shouldn't be justified. I remember the entitlement costs from the power company days. Simple things like sick days. You are allotted so many days so take them all, sick or not. Wasted dollars. I was never in that group but a huge percent was. Greed is at every level. Not sure we deserve this planet. Dang, you are making me cranky.

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  14. I only worked at one school that gave the teachers a money amount for supplies. Don't think it's a lot! It was $150 for the year. So we asked for the most important items, and spent our own money on the rest of what we needed.

    Other schools just asked for requisitions. Some teachers (not me, of course) padded theirs with extravagances. Might ask for $700-800 worth of stuff. I'm not saying they didn't use it, but that the rest of us were buying a lot of our own stuff. Their justification was that a percentage would be cut, but they'd still get a lot of what they asked for. Shame on those folks, wanting school money to spend on their students!

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  15. Sadly, this is so true. It makes me want to scream.

    The place where Mr. Pixel used to work had a room full of temps who didn't do anything. They just sat there, surfed the internet, Facebooked, took online classes, drank coffee, socialized, etc. When upper management said to reduce staff by 10%, they let a few of those temps go.

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