A big problem with Government Agencies is that the technical experts tend to be promoted into management positions when their expertise is in the technical issues, not

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

how to manage the agency. The health agency is administered by a doctor, the construction agencies are administered by engineers, the financial agencies are administered by accountant or economics type persons etc. etc.etc. Non of these technician types have the big picture of what could happen that is outside their area of expertise. Think about it. Even if there were a FBC (Federal Bureau of Computers), the top manager may be very knowledgable about how to program a computer but would he understand all of the interconnections and dependencies that are essential to the continued operation of his computer system? Would he realize how dependent his operation is on continued succesful operation of telephones, electric power, banks, railroads, oil wells, refineries, pipelines, gasoline and food deliveries to local businesses etc. and how interruptions to these other areas could shut down his entire operation? Would he realize that disruptions in the postal service, Internal Revenue Service, ability to issue and cash checks, ability to receive salaries, social security, medicade and retirement benefits would have on the economy and on his ability to continue to operate his programs? The Divison of labor results in many immense benefits to our economy but it also results in immense dangers when something unexpected comes along. Perhaps we are on the Titantic. The ship has struck the iceberg and is going down. Did the Captain tell the passengers? Why is the band still playing? Why is the crew rearranging the deck chairs? Is anyone lowering the lifeboats before the ship is tilted so steeply that it is impossible to lower most of the lifeboats? Why didn't the captain tell the passengers to put on their lifejackets? Is the tooth fairy going to come along and fix the holes in the hull? Even Curly understands that there are some things that he does not understand but at least he has the sense to ask someone to fix the problem and does not pretend that the problem does not exist. Surely Curly is not smarter than the Gobmint. HUUUUMMMMM.

-- Moe (Moe@3stooges.gom), September 19, 1999



For a while, the fashion was to hire "generalists" as CEOs. Typically these were people just out of the Harvard MBA program who didn't have an in-depth knowledge about *anything*. This experiment is widely considered to have been a failure. It seems the best CEO's are still the kind who worked their way up from messenger boy.

Relatively few people are capable of understanding a large number of different specialties in depth and relating each to all the others to get the Big Picture. And almost all of *those* spend too much time hanging out on this forum, and not enough time leading!

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), September 19, 1999.

It's called "The Peter Principle" -- from a business management book of thirty or so years ago. People tend to get promoted to a level just above their level of competence. (That's in the private, for profit sector; in government, it can be an infinite number of levels.)

-- A (A@AisA.com), September 19, 1999.

Actually, the heads of almost all government agencies are political appointees who may or may not know anything about the subject matter at hand.

What they are experts in is kissing the behind of the folks that got them the job, and political correctness in word and deed.

They are also experts in spin, i.e., lying to the public to make their agency look as good as possible regardless of the facts.

While I am tempted to blame this sad state of affairs on the current horrid administration the reality is that it is an almost inevitable consequence of a democracy.

I have no brilliant solutions for this problem any more than I can produce a silver bullet for Y2K.

We live in an imperfect world, so we will just have to deal with it.

-- cgbg jr (cgbgjr@webtv.net), September 19, 1999.


-- ALL ANSWERS IN BIBLE. (dogs@zianet.com), September 20, 1999.


I have found that some people are promoted to their highest leval of incompetence>


Okay, Okay, I know I shouldn't hang out here so much ~~

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), September 20, 1999.

Yes, I've seen this happen often in education--good teachers, becoming bad administrator's.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), September 20, 1999.

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