Monday 22 March 2010

A Public Sector Mountain And Molehill

Warning: Transport-related post, it could be time for you to go and do something less boring instead.

Regular readers will remember my describing the ninth circle of bureaucratic, business-obstructing, hell this time last month.

Yes, it's still rumbling on. In fact, one of our more experienced office staff has been almost exclusively working on solving the whole state-created mess so, in time and motion terms, this entirely irrelevant episode has already cost us in the region of £2k.

Sometimes, though, even when taking on the role of a prize in some public service inter-departmental game of pass-the-parcel, there are still moments which stand out as world class form-filling ineptitude. Here is a prime cut.

Having booked one vehicle in for a DVLA inspection last week as a test case (this exercise in itself took best part of two hours and could only be arranged for three weeks from the time of phoning), we decided that it would be more indicative for our purposes if a different vehicle was sent, so rang up to notify them for their records.

You're probably ahead of me already here. Of course it wasn't as easy as merely changing the vehicle registration on their computer - what were we thinking?

Naturally (for the public sector), the appointment would have to be cancelled and re-booked ... at the back of the queue. Still, we had already paid the - customarily-extortionate - £280 fee, so at least that wasn't a concern. Right?

Wrong. That would have to be cancelled too or, more accurately, the fee refunded by the same method as our remittance.

So, the simple process of changing a vehicle registration number for an inspection, which has yet to take place, finishes up as a cancellation, a re-booking, a further delay of another week, a cheque drawn by the DVLA and posted to us, and our writing a fresh cheque and remitting it back to them.

Because, presumably, the computer said no.

Still, what are businesses for if not to provide employment and circumlocution opportunities for mentally under-endowed box-tickers and water-cooler gossipers, eh?

To boost the economy by injecting profits, did you say? How very last century. Get with the programme, Grandad.


thespecialone said...

You should try working in the public sector and getting something done easily! For the most simple of jobs, lets say you need access to a database that you must have to do your job? A quick call and its arranged? No! You have to fill in a long form, and you have to provide a business case that cannot just say something simple. No! It has to be a true business case. No matter that the past 5 incumbents of the particular post needed the access, you still had to provide the business case. On top of that, it then has to be approved by your line manager. Does it then come through immediately? No! You have to wait potentially up to 6 weeks. The bureaucracy is incredible

Dick Puddlecote said...

Thespecialone: Perhaps I should qualify the 'mentally under-endowed' description to exclude those withinthe public sector, like yourself, who understand the problem. :-)

Having said that, there are plenty who are quite willing to make life easy for themselves, by adhering to the rules laid down by the cocktrumpet further up the scale, rather than engaging brain.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

I accept there's a few honest souls at the coal face but experience would suggest they're a small minority and that the hairless chimps who affect the airs of management are in general incompetent beyond belief (or reasoning with).

It's all about the triumph of process over delivery.

I'd rather they replaced them all with Nigerians - then, at least - you know where you stand.

I'm partway through a process with a gubmint agency and the obstructiveness and goalpost moving has hardened our attitude to the point where we're spending time researching said agency's legal mandate to actually regulate our activity - on the basis that even the fine (if any) would be cheaper than trying to collaborate in a nice way and getting crapped on at each turn.

It really doesn't have to be like this.

Mrs Rigby said...

Yes, well we know they're being paid to push money round in circles.

w/v cattle

Joe Public said...

But is the pragmatic solution to just switch number plates?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Joe Public: We thought of that, but it's a three hour test (to look briefly at the floor and a couple of seats, I kid you not) so in between having spanner fights, they might look closely at the log book.

BTS said...

Giz a job Dick..?

You know I'll happily work for a bottle of crap vodka a day (£7.32 in Asda the last time I looked) and 2 packets(ish) of baccy a week.

I'm a demon on the phone to guvmint tossers and it's not like I need food or anything..

JJ said...

Slightly off topic DP, hope you don’t mind…but it does exemplify the almost bullying stance that the DVLA do adopt.

Sometime time ago I sent in my paper licence to have a previous speeding conviction expunged. DVLA then sent me a form for a photo licence saying that the paper licence had been destroyed, because they no longer issue paper ones.

They never consulted me first about destroying my property, nor did they ever inform me it was now their policy.

I’ve since been caught by camera for speeding and have pleaded guilty by post, and will of course have 3 penalty points on my licence.
As you know the paper licence expires when you are 70, but the photo licences have to be renewed every 3 years.

I strongly believe that the DVLA should replace my paper licence, why should I apply for a photo licence just so that the courts can put on their three points?