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Death to Bureaucracy

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7th December 2008

sinisteragent2:33am: Job Title: Randomisation Officer


26th April 2008

sinisteragent9:21am: Image is everything.
The Office of Government Commerce changed their logo ("Rebranded" is a word for cunts, by cunts). The result was this:

However, once it was printed on the mousemats and assorted office tat, someone noticed a slight problem....

20th March 2008

sinisteragent3:51am: Trufax

11th March 2008

sinisteragent2:50pm: Useless twats in "useless" shock!
"In the three years leading up to the NAO report, spending upon outsourcing’ to the likes of Logica and Accenture (and surely those names should have given the game away) increased by 33 per cent. There was one glorious example of outsourcing cited: Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs outsourced the problem of needing to save £105 million in labour costs. This they did, successfully, to a team of management consultants who charged them £106 million."

Proof, if proof be needed, that "management consultant" is a synonym for "despicable parasite".

The libraries I used to work in paid a vast sum of money to some of these fuckbags. They paraded around for a few weeks, then compiled a report that said about forty things, ten of which were moronic, ten of which were meaningless Zazz. Of the remaining twenty, eighteen were things that I and the rest of the staff had already said countless times*, and two were reasonably good, if minor points that I hadn't considered.

If your company is in trouble and you're considering hiring a management consultancy firm, the only two things you need to do are these:

1) Listen to your staff, and implement the changes they suggest.

2) Kill yourself.

* But been ignored because we were just the people who did all the work, so obviously didn't know as well as some useless twat who went on a marketing course once. Prime example: We'd been asking for laminating machines for ages so that we could make our notices look less tatty and cheap. The manager of Harefield village library went as far as bringing in her own from home and leaving it for library use, because management kept ignoring us.

The week after the marketing scammers suggested all branches have a laminating machine, management started harping on about how tatty and cheap the "signage" looked, and that they'd be sending laminating machines to the major branches soon and we should all be sure to use them. Then there's the fact that Hayes library has been operating for several years now using telephone donated by staff members... but that's another story.

13th December 2007

sinisteragent6:11pm: Advert of the day
"Job Title: UNIT CLERK 444-341-08"


3rd September 2007

sinisteragent3:30pm: Funsquare superplus GO!
"Welcome to Funsquare technical support. May I have your name please?"

"Yes, it's Tom."

"And your phone number?"


"Thank you. If you'll just wait a moment, just let me bring up your file..."

"I don't have a file. That's why I'm calling. You could have just asked me what I wanted and saved thirty seconds of our lives."


"Never mind. I don't have a file, my funsquare is second hand. I've bought it from a shop, and unfortunately it's developed a fault. However, it's still registered under the original owner's name. What I need is for you to contact the original owner and ask them to un-register it so that I can register it for myself and get it repaired."

"Can you contact the original owner?"

"No, I'm afraid not. I don't know who they are. They sold their funsquare to a shop, and the shop sold it to me. The shop may have their details, but they can't give the details to me or to you, because that would violate the terms of the Data Protection Act."

"Can you ask the shop?"

"I... they can't give me the details as it's illegal. It'd violate the Data Protection Act."

"I'm sorry, but you'd have to talk to the shop, they sold it to you..."

"Yes, I have. They're a second hand shop though - all they can do is offer me a refund or replacement. If I get a replacement, the same problem will come up though. I could get a refund, but I'd rather not. I was hoping... look, when the original owner registered the funsquare, I'd assume that they gave you their contact details, right? Is there any way then that you can contact them and ask them to confirm that they sold it?"

"I'm sorry sir, we can't pass on that information."

"I understand that, I realise that you can't give me their number. But is there any way YOU can contact them..."

"We couldn't give you that information, there would be a privacy issue."

"No, I know. I realise that. I'm not asking for their details because I know that you can't give them to me because it would be illegal. But you have the information, so is there no way YOU can contact them yourselves? Not to talk to me, but just write to them or something and ask them to confirm that they no longer own the funsquare?"

"I don't think we can do that."

"You can't contact your own customers?"


23rd May 2007

sinisteragent10:59pm: Feesh.
I saw a programme when I got in tonight about the awful standards of hygiene in Tesco and Sainsbury's meat and fish counters. It was interesting, and revealed that staff simply cut corners everywhere, failing to clean or discard expired meat, fabricated records of food temperature checks and the like and left inexperience staff to man two counters alone (one meat, one fish. Which shouldn't happen anyway, experienced or not). My family gasped repeatedly and acted surprised, and wondered aloud how they got away with it. The answer struck me instantly.

Like everywhere from the police to the fish counter, from the libraries to the gift shops, they're constrained by minimal budgets and directed by lists of targets. Like everywhere, they are short staffed, because hiring enough people to get things done means paying them, and if a company doesn't instantly combust then by a manager's logic, they must have enough people and resources. Perhaps even too many. But the main reason most places don't fall to pieces is because the remaining staff have had to vigilantly cut corners. They could try to do everything they're supposed to; everything they should, but if they spent the necessary time to fill in the "chicken cooking temperature" charts or date all the meat or throw away the expired stock, they'd (A) get it in the neck for not getting something else done - never mind that it's literally impossible to do as well as the forms, and (B) get it in the neck for failing to meet some stupid target or costing the company too much money by throwing away 'too much' stock. If they say they've had to throw away stock because it's expired, they'll get it in the neck for not selling enough. If they try to tell management they're understaffed, they'll be told there's no money in the budget for staff, or more likely that they're not working hard enough. The options are to work hard and do everything you should and get it in the neck for not making up for poor management and inadequate staffing, or to cut corners everywhere and let everything slide.

The people on that programme were no doubt used as scapegoats while the incompetent managers just blundered on. They're making a mint, so what do they care?

1st March 2007

sinisteragent9:48am: Timing
"I booked today off as holiday."

"Did you put it in writing?"

"Are you taking the piss?"

"Er... no. Did you put it in writing to Linda?"

"I talked to her on the phone as she wrote it down, because I couldn't write it down myself because you didn't give me my last minute timetable changes in writing ... or at all, in fact."

"I'll call Linda. I need to sort this out because I want to know where you'll be today."

"I'll be at home, sleeping and watching DVDs. Call whoever you want, but I'm not answering my phone today, because I'm on holiday."

"We're expecting you in today, those are your contracted hours."

"Yeah, but I'm also contracted to have time off, and I booked that time off for today."

"Not according to my timetable. IF you could come in until eight that would make up for the lost hour this morning..."

"I don't think I'll be able to stay awake until eight. I've been up all night, because I had today off."

"Well, if you could do your normal hours then, but make up the lost time this morning on another day, as a compromise..."

"My normal hours are until seven. That's still nine hours. Eleven if I count travelling, so I'll still want to die by mid-afternoon, and my treatment of our visitors will reflect that. Can we not work out a compromise that involves us both making concessions and not just me?"

"Like what?"

"Gah... I'll have today off, but make up the hours next month. And I want the 15th and another day off, to use up the holidays I've earned."

"I'll have to ask Nina about that."


"I've talked to Nina and she's not happy, but if you're sure you can't change your plans you can stay home and we'll put it down as unauthorised absence."

"Unauth... so, I book a holiday, someone else cocks up and fails to update the timetable accordingly, and I have to either come in for an eleven hour shift at the branch I hate most after being up all night, or I get a massive "BUNKED OFF" note next to my name?"

"We're expecting you here, so she's not happy. It has a knock-on effect on staffing..."


Would it have a knock-on effect on staffing if I came in with no sleep and really pissed off, finally cracked and murdered everyone in the office with a stapler? There's only one way to find out...

20th December 2006

sinisteragent2:56am: Kindness in triplicate.

Do you visit your local library a lot? Get along well with the staff? Find they're lovely to you an help you out a lot with stuff? Do you decide to buy them a token of appreciation, say, some biscuits, for christmas, just to say thanks?


Recipients name:

Email address:


Description of gift or hospitality:

Estimated value:

Purpose (if any):

Provided by:



When you're done with that, we'll type it up and email it to the central library. There it'll be converted to .pdf format and sent back to us for filing. Just in case we need to ... er ... check whether or not we got some biscuits. You know, in case we eat them and then all hit our heads on a low branch and develop amnesia or something.

1. This is extremely rude to the people who are kind enough to give seasonal gifts to the staff who they feel have been good to them.

2. This is an insult to staff who, even if we were open to bribes, would require a damn sight more than a box of chocolates for any special favours.

3. What possible point is there in bribing a librarian? We only ever waive fees if there's a good reason, or as a gesture of goodwill in unusual circumstances. And there's a far easier way to avoid fines than trying to bribe us, and that is to bring the books back on time.

4. This wastes a lot of time and, consequently, the money of our public, who live in a miserable and deprived part of the city as it is, without their money paying for people to convert chocolate biscuit receipts to awkward formats.

5. This is a manifestation of the central library's envy of our greatness, for they have needed none of these forms, while we've got through five in a week.

6. Wankers, all of them.

9th December 2006

sinisteragent8:35pm: Taxi
"Hello, I'd like to book a cab from Hayes to Staines if possible."

"Sir you have to call a local cab company, we're in Staines."

"Well, yes. But I'm going to Staines."

"You have to call a local place."

"But if I call a local place, they'll have to drive back to Hayes anyway, so it makes no difference. Just charge me for the distance - it'll be the same either way."

"Sir, we're in Staines, you're supposed to call a local one."

"Fine then, I'll keep my money. Idiot."


My superb telephone manner doesn't work on days off, evidently.

5th November 2006

sinisteragent11:43pm: An ill wind
"This is not a disciplinary matter. It is an informal meeting..."

Said the letter, with attached form detailing when and where said meeting would take place. I don't know about you, but I don't send out letters with timetables every time I have an informal chat with someone. And I've never had to fill in a form for an informal affair before. Isn't the literal definition of informal "without forms"?

My crime? Being absent for more than four days in a six month period, or having more than two periods of absence in six months. That triggers a sick leave process, apparently. So if you, say, catch a bad cold and have a week off rather than come in and infect everyone and get yourself so tired and worn down you succomb to a secondary infection and have to take more time off anyway, you have to have some ridiculous waste of time and resources in all these letters and forms followed by a formal-informal chat with your manager, who you've already talked to about the illness at length anyway.

It "will go on your personnal file", but it's filed away and may be referred to in future if problems arise. Which, y'know, is exactly the same thing as going on a personal file.

The purported aim of all this is to "determine any underlying cause" of such absence. "Being a carbon-based multicellular life form and thus susceptible to pathogenic illness" isn't self-evident enough, apparently. Unless they're hoping I'll go "well now you mention it, I have been feeling more cancerous than usual lately..."


1st November 2006

agent_of_chaos8:43pm: Once upon a time, I worked for a health care/insurance company. One day, they laid off 75 people. About a month after they laid of those people, all employees received an extremely expensive looking, glossy magazine profiling six people who were happy with the care they had received through our company.

Nothing odd about this so far.

The reason for this magazine was that upper-upper management in its infinite (lack of) wisdom, had decided that this would be a good way for the employees to find out what our customers thought of us.

Here is the rub. At a health care company, ALL employees (with the exception of the aforementioned upper-upper management) deal DIRECTLY with the customers. We know what they think of us, they were always howling their displeasure at us over the phone or across a reception desk.

Some idiot in his ivory tower who never deals with customers and doesn't bother to ask us what our customers think, laid of 75 people for financial reasons and then wastes thousands upon thousands of dollars creating an expensive magazine to tell us what all of us, except for those poncing gits isolated in their plush offices, already know.

Fucking incompetent twats.

26th October 2006

sinisteragent8:20pm: "We never got that letter... for some reason."
The council is desperately short of money (again). So, they take the following steps:

1) Fire lots of people at the bottom half of the pay scale.

2) Spend over £200,000 on a new crest for council documents and notices.

3) Buy Union Jack flags and tailor-made new council crest flags to display on the high street, so that 'tourists' (read: immigrants) think we're as embarassing and pathetically nationalistic as the Daily Mail wants us to be.

4) Decide that all purchasing must be done with prior approval of the new councillor Director (this includes toilet paper for staff rooms and stamps). Two weeks before the Director is due to start.

So if you want to send any of the several thousand letters that your department alone needs to send this month, tough. You'll just have to wait, because the Bureaucracy has spoken, drone.

25th October 2006

agent_of_chaos9:19am: Tragically, this is accurate...
A Japanese company and an American company had a boat race; the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans hired analysts to figure out what went wrong. They reported that the Japanese had one person managing and seven rowing, while the Americans had seven managing and only one rowing. The American company immediately restructured its team. Now they had one senior manager, six management consultants, and one rower.

In the rematch, the Japanese won by two miles. So the American company fired the rower.

26th June 2006

sinisteragent11:23am: The wall fair state.
"Hello, I'd like to book an emergency appointment, please."

"You need to call back at two o' clock. The morning appointments have all been taken now."

"So ah. The word 'emergency' doesn't really carry much weight with Doctors anymore?"

"Don't get smart with me sonny, I'll slap your face."


24th May 2006

sinisteragent4:30pm: Qualify this
"I'm a qualified librarian!"

"So you ah... you go through all the books, see which haven't been taken for years and chuck them, and you redistribute new books depending on where there's enough space. And you ... you went on a course to learn that? Surely anyone who can read dates and has at least one eye and one arm is a 'qualified' librarian?"

This woman was patronising. She deserved a lot worse, but if she gives me any more gip I'll plot some elaborate revenge. The thing is, because of people like her who get shitty with everyone else, we're not allowed to take books off the shelves even if they haven't been read for a decade. We can't take duplicates off the system to make way for new books without calling her in. We can't move the fiction section across by five feet to make use of the four empty shelves at the end of the room, and instead have to leave ugly piles of disorganised books on the returned trolley, and a massive gap next to the reference section. This makes us look lazy and incompetent, forces visitors to trawl through the mess and keeps an officious moron in employment in place of someone without their head up their arse.

And it's government funded. We're paying for it in every sense.

27th April 2006

sinisteragent6:38pm: Forum lurking.
"I'm a Civil Servant - I work for Jobcentreplus.

I'm watching you student's!"

I'm trying to think of something to say about this that isn't extremely rude and bitchy. It is not easy. The people whose job is to help you get work can't even pluralise a noun.

Welcome to England. Abandon hope all ye who enter.

30th March 2006

sinisteragent1:00pm: Job Title: Domestic Violence Co-ordinator (Internal Only)

Salary: £33,303 - £36,636

Holy shit, they're organised now? I thought spousal abuse was strictly voluntary. Bloody good wage, too. More than I ever got for kicki... oh, er.

Job Title: Manager Of The Inclusion Room

Inclusion Room?

29th March 2006

sinisteragent6:46am: Sample Entry
Jobhunting, eh? Is there a more demoralising process in existence? Just out of school? Leaving university? Thinking of dropping your current job and starting afresh?

Here's an example of the kind of thing you'll face. Extract from some job advert or other:

RESPONSIBILITIES: Listen to, proofread and correct transcripts of quarterly earnings conference calls.

QUALIFICATIONS: Must be currently pursuing, or possess an MBA degree

Have a little think about that one. The most demanding responsibility is "correct typing errors", and yet if you don't have an MBA degree under your belt, you won't get a look in. Why? The answer is simple: Because of a bureaucrat.
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