The Countless Failures of Big Bureaucracy

Donald Devine:

Ludwig von Mises’ Yale University Press classic Bureaucracy explains in a relatively few pages the difference between public and private-sector bureaucratic management. The private sector can measure what is going on in large hierarchies of bureaucracy below its CEO simply by asking whether each unit is making a profit. The public sector has no equivalent measuring device.

This basic structural disadvantage is further hampered by the environment in which the bureaucracy must operate. The top levels of democratic governments must be elected by a population unfamiliar with administrative details and must vote based on what they can see.

Officials must deal with this electorate as it is and give people what they think they want rather than what they need. Neither the executive, legislative, nor judicial branches can see into the bureaucracy any better than career leaders. At the same time, U.S. bureaucracy itself operates under dual civil service and union personnel shields where almost no one is fired or disciplined.

How do even our best bureaucracies work under these constraints? The U.S. Navy primarily needs ships, and in the 1990s its leadership realized air and assault vessels had been designed for open-ocean warfare and would be vulnerable in shallow coastal waters like China’s. The first smaller littoral combat ship produced to meet that need was not launched until 2006. Now, 15 years later, the Navy announced that it must retire nine of them, one of which was commissioned less than two years before, and the others had “major propulsion issues.” The Navy-friendly Wall Street Journal called this “arguably the services’ biggest acquisitions failure of all time in a crowded field.” The editors could only recommend more money and back to the drawing board to solve a 30-year inability to effectively confront America’s most dangerous foe.

Much of the problem is that national government tries to do too much. It does not even know how many laws it has.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?