Op-ed: Fighting bureaucracy

Complicated forms, time-consuming processes, and intricate systems. Last year, an investigation by the Faculty of Science and Engineering showed that the RUG is rife with administrative hassle. The Board of Directors immediately instated a committee in response, which put together a report with recommendations. The University Council’s Personnel faction is happy with the report, but has some remarks of its own.

We couldn’t believe our eyes. For the first time since 1614, the university had sent out a useful memo! The memo was about administritis. As everyone knows, administritis – and its dangerous cousin, evaluitis – is a harrowing and deadly affliction. However, the memo made short thrift of it. It suggests smart solutions to combat it.

The disease had been allowed to spread like wildfire for far too long: Computer program PURE was giving people skin rashes. R&O forms and the ISP invoice system made people suicidal. The unsuspecting staff suffered a collective rise in blood pressure. The stress has lead to break-ups, general misery and difficulties. So many of us have complained about our minimal knowledge of Ocasys, or Quamatrix, not to mention CUAO and IQBS. Well, good riddance to them all: banish them to the ninth circle of Dante’s Hell!

However, we were surprised that the 35-page memo left so many things unsaid. No mention is made of the tortuous course evaluation and graduate thesis forms. Or the completely counter-intuitive Nestor portal – we spontaneously break down in tears whenever we hear some idiot praising this product. And let’s not forget the hair-raising new salary slips which, in spite of their innovation, are entirely incomprehensible. Or the PhD regulations, a document of no fewer than 59 pages – longer than some medical dissertations! Not to mention the fact that jobs have become so specific that you need several people just to perform a single task. In the nineties, our jobs consisted of 1.0 FTE, in the noughts they became 1.00 FTE, and this decade they consist of 1.000 FTE. The tasks have been subdivided so much that the failure rate is over 100 percent.

Bureaucracy, the Dutch saying goes, is vanquished through perseverance and a tolerance for stupidity – or in this case, a bulldozer. It’s high time for Operation Red Tape!

One thing we can’t figure out: how did the RUG manage to even come up with all these dreadful systems? Why are so few bureaucrats capable of devising user-friendly systems? Is it because they have a fundamental mistrust of their workers? Absolutely! But it’s mainly because they are only concerned with their own glory and therefore abhor simplicity: god forbid people start thinking we don’t need bureaucrats anymore. Here is the ground rule: bureaucrats designing a system should be forced to use it themselves – on pain of cleaning the Broerplein. That will truly open their eyes and we will finally be delivered from this harrowing affliction! Round up the bureaucrats, stick a stamp on them with red tape and ship them off to Ouagadougou!

Antoon De Baets, member of the Personnel faction at the University Council



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