• Page update – 30/10/12

    Joe Citizens - new story, regarding Motability scooters. My favourite!

  • The Un-Civil Servant

  • BB

    BB is Bureaucratic Bullsh*t.
    It can also stand for Big Brother.
    In the civil service, they are one and the same.

  • What’s it all about?

    Bureaucracy is an umbrella term for official incompetence; that is, incompetence which has officially been sanctioned as being good practice. No-where in the world is that more apparent than in the British public sector. Misadministration of public services is the backbone of every government led department.
    Trust me, I’m a civil servant.

  • It’s a disease

    Bureaucracy runs rife through the corridors of power like a child riddled with ADHD, high on fizzy pop, crisps and jelly-beans.

  • Blog Stats

    • 681 hits
  • Bullsh*t Alert

Bullsh*t one to one

I had my monthly assessment today with my ‘manager’.  Yes, I use that term loosely.  Most of them are very loose, particularly in the brain department.  We call these assessments, ‘One-To-Ones.’  That’s because we disappear into a small office or a dark corner somewhere to discuss between the two of us how crap I am.

It’s complete bo**ocks and an utter waste of time – just the ‘management’ making a show of ‘doing it properly’.  But of course, in the civil service, very little is ever done properly.

These 121’s, as I like to write them, are supposed to be an assessment of our abilities, the discussion of the results from listening to our calls and an opportunity to look at areas of possible improvement.  All that actually happens is that we both try not to upset each other.  The manager tentatively points out any misdemeanours with a shrug and a smile that says, “sorry, I don’t want to do this but I’m just doing my job.”  And the officer sits there trying to mould a sheepish grin into a placating smile that says, “I’m really not this crap but I don’t want to cause bad feeling so I’ll just let you get on with it.”  And that’s about all it involves.  It ends with both of us putting on false laughs as we walk out of the office, pretending we’re still best buddies and not the bullsh*t bedfellows we really are.

Roll on next month for a repeat performance!

A word from our union

The following is a circular from our union that sums up the main problems we face.  It’s a dangerous place!

Security – Protecting Yourself  II

Dear Colleague,

The purpose of this circular is to remind members of the importance of protecting themselves with regards to security.
Whilst we believe the security measures implemented, such as Bogus Caller Verification1, Clear Desk Policy2 and the Policy Scenario Matrix3 are an over zealous, verging on obsessive, response to the data losses by other Departments and Ministers; we felt it appropriate to remind members of the importance of being vigilant and protecting yourselves. This is because it is likely that even a very minor, one-off or entirely non-intentional breach will result in an attempt to take some form of disciplinary action against you. It is worthwhile noting that the Department believes that “deliberate” means that you did it, rather than you did it on purpose.
Whilst we will vigorously defend members against such action, the safest option you can take is to be cautious in all aspects of security and to take all necessary steps to protect yourselves and make sure what you are doing is correct and complies with the Department’s Security Regime; even if that means you need to take extra time and care to ensure it is correct.
Please familiarise yourselves with the Department’s various security policies and procedures (which are available on the intranet) and the Clear Desk Policy. Your line manager should allow you reasonable time to read these in full.
The Clear Desk Policy places considerable individual responsibility on staff for various security matters; not just for your own individual work or desk, but for the staff and room in its entirety. We believe that this is placing unnecessary pressure and stress on staff (who are already working under considerable pressures and high workloads as a result of Lean4 and headcount reductions); and we would like to remind you of your right to an Individual Stress Risk Assessment5.
We have also witnessed several disciplinary cases where members have sent materials to their home e-mail from the Office and these included claimants’ details. We believe that member should not work for nothing at home. We understand that the Department is short staffed; and there are proposals to cut jobs further. Do not be under the misapprehension that if something goes wrong your employer will take into account the fact you were trying and help out the Department due to the lack of staffing. They will not. They will merely blame you and take disciplinary action against you if something goes wrong.
I hope that you have found this circular useful.
Should you require any further information on these matters, or in fact any other matters, please contact the Branch Office.
Yours sincerely
Branch Deputy Secretary

1 The policy of asking security questions before giving information.
2 Where we have to clear our desks at the end of the day of all paperwork or anything ‘sensitive’. 
3 I’ve no idea!
4 A rediculous short cut policy stolen fromToyota to ‘streamline’ processes (look what happened to them).
5 If you feel stressed you fill a form in and have a chat that alters nothing.

The Enemy Within

My job here at BB HQ is to answer enquiries by telephone from Joe Citizen – I say citizen and not public because the government always refers to you lot as citizens, never the public.  At least they do in our communications.  Has a bit of a ‘Big Brother’ edge to it, don’t you think?  Anyway, here I am, in one of the millions of large offices, sat in front of a computer with a headset on.  The novelty of the headset making me feel like a US Marine or pop star wore off about nine years ago.

Now, here’s just one of the many things that really tests my patience; my fellow members of staff.  They can be as exasperating as the customers who phone us. Take Janet, who sits on my right.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s a lovely lady in her early sixties and I do like her.  It’s just that she is rubbish at her job.  She’s been here since Harold got one in the eye but she hasn’t got a clue.  Does that scare you, citizen?  It should because incompetence is rife on every level.  And why does her lack of ability annoy me so?  Because she is constantly asking me questions in between my own calls.  And this isn’t confined to Janet.  Dotted around the room you can see heads popping up and people turning round to ask questions of their slightly more knowledgeable colleagues.  It’s ridiculous!

And why are we so crap?  Well, amongst other factors, it’s because our training (haha!) is crap.  And our training is crap because our trainers aren’t actually trainers.  The trainers are just people like me who work on the phones.  They volunteer to be trainers solely to get a few weeks break from taking calls from lovely Joe Citizen.  They have little or no training experience and they have never had teacher or trainer training.  The only qualifications they have are big gobs and even bigger egos.  And they are ALWAYS women.  I don’t know if that’s significant – probably not but I thought I’d mention it.   You can tell who they are because they saunter around the office like Cheshire cats, laughing and joking at a high rate of decibels and generally pi**ing the rest of us real workers off.  Oh, they think they are so important.  They have about as much clue to the job as good old Janet.  The only difference is they have a thick manual to work from to teach the new recruits.  Most of the time though, they play silly made up games like ‘Hopes and Fears’ – basically asking each recruit to stand up and reel off what they hope to get out of the job and what they are afraid might go wrong.  Another one I heard of was the ‘trainers’ getting each recruit to be a character out of Coronation Street!  Why, I hear you scream?  I have no bloody idea, I reply!  Anyway, they got told off for that one.  I have lost count of the times a ‘trainer’ has been summoned to the office for a dressing down, yet they still use them for training.

That’s the way it is.  That’s why we’re so rubbish.  That and that the job changes on a daily basis and we can’t keep up.  We receive no refresher training and rarely receive training when changes are introduced.  Mostly we are told what to do or not to do by e-mail.  And we get millions of those and no time allocated to read them.  You see, time away from answering the phones is time that may detract us from our targets.  And targets are our prime reason for being here but that’s for another day.