The cost of bureaucracy

Does anyone ever say, “when I grow up I”m going to be a bureaucrat?”

It’s not that we don’t need them, theirs is an essential role in the smooth running of any large organisation. But you can have too much of a good thing and we’ve definitely gone beyond what’s necessary in the public service.

As John Key pointed out in a recent speech  to the Public Service Association:

Since 2000, the number of teachers in state primary and secondary schools has grown by 12%. But over the same period, the number of people employed in the various education bureaucracies has grown by 40%. . . Since 2000, the number of nurses and doctors employed in district health boards has grown by 28%. But over the same period, the number of people employed in the Ministry of Health has grown by 51%.  . .

 

Since 2002, the service delivery part of MSD, namely Work and Income, and Child Youth and Family, has grown by 23%. But over the same period, the policy analysis, research, and corporate units of MSD have grown by 109%.The Quarterly Employment Survey shows a similar picture over the whole of the state sector – the number of jobs in central government administration has grown faster than those in the rest of the state sector, and faster than the number of jobs in the economy as a whole.

 

The inbalance between front line workers and bureaucrats, and taxpayer funded employees and those in the private sector, comes at a considerable cost and not just in wages.

Gerry Brownlee  points out it’s not just wages:

In the past five years Labour has overseen an increase in the amount of extra floor space leased for bureaucrats in central Wellington equivalent to almost four Te Papas, says National’s State Services spokesman, Gerry Brownlee.“How can people have faith and trust in Labour’s stewardship of the public service when it has overseen an increase in the amount of extra floor space leased for bureaucrats in the past five years that equates to an additional 13.2 hectares?”

 

. . . Mr Brownlee says the extra floor space has not come cheaply, and the government now pays around $106 million a year in rent.

That’s the direct cost, there’s also the impact it has on the market, pushing up property prices rents and contributing to inflation.

Kiwiblog lists some of the bigger increases:

  1. Human Rights Commission up 178%
  2. Commerce Commission up 176%
  3. Education Ministry up 155%
  4. Social Development Ministry up 122%
  5. Transport up 117%
  6. Environment Ministry up 110%

In absolute terms the IRD has grown by 25,000 square metres, Education Ministry by 13,000 square metres, Labour Department by almost 7,000 square metres, ACC by 6,000 square metres, NZQA by 5,000 square metres, Justice Ministry by 5,000 square metres.

Congratulations to Treasury who reduced their office space by 2,000 square metres or 18%.

Won’t it be a great day when schools and hopsitals have everything they need and a government department has to run a cake stall for a new computer?

4 Responses to The cost of bureaucracy

  1. Gary says:

    “Won’t it be a great day when schools and hopsitals have everything they need and a government department has to run a cake stall for a new computer?”

    You can just imagine the anger of the ministry officials if they really had to put up with treatment that their workers at the coalface had to. Genuine lack of resources, lack of space, lack of necessary maintenance etc. They wouldn’t put up with it from their employers or their landlords, but the people who actually deliver the services have to.

    The real problem with many of these situations is that the extra bureaucrats all too often don’t help with productivity overall, they usually cause a reduction as they create more paperwork for the people on the ground.

    Like

  2. macdoctor01 says:

    The real cost of all those bureaucrats is measured in the enormous loss of productivity from handling the paperwork generated by them. A bureaucrat can kill more trees in a day than a swarm of mutant termites.

    It is not simply the wasted time, but the added costs of doing unnecessary things. Holding meetings, doing tests, gathering statistics…

    Like

  3. Adolf Fiinkensein says:

    Yessir, the most productive land by far is in Wellington. Hell, they can winter over a thousand boof heads per acre.

    Like

  4. The public sector is a growing at a faster rate than the general population and there is an ideological reason for this:
    http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/why-has-government-use-of-floor-space-increased-by-42-in-five-years/

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: