Bureaucracy-Maladies and Possible Remedies

Bureaucracy- Maladies and Possible Remedies:

The Bureaucracy is an essential and inevitable part of government. Its role is as essential as the role of the political executive. It is only when a mature leadership of the political executive is actively and dedicatedly helped by a well-qualified and trained Bureaucracy that the functioning of the government can be smooth and efficient. However, Bureaucracy, if not properly organized and healthy, can be a source of trouble and inefficiency. It can bungle, be arbitrary and lead to wastefulness, officiousness, and regimentation.

F. H. Haxford lists 12 maladies that usually characterize bureaucracy. These are:

  • Perversity.
  • Treason.
  • Self-seeking.
  • Cultivation of complexity.
  • Fear of definiteness.
  • Hatred of supervision.
  • Self-praise.
  • Abuse of power.
  • Self-importance.
  • Class consciousness.
  • Administrative self-promotion.
  • Red Tapism.

Indeed, the following maladies usually characterize the Bureaucracy of a state:

(1) Red Tapism- The Bureaucracy can indulge in red tapism. It can cause delays in decision-making by adopting a rigid attitude towards the application of all rules and regulations according to which the decisions have to be taken. It can ignore the results in favor of maintaining the routine. Delay is sometimes used to demonstrate its role in holding decisions. Delay always breeds corruption and civil servants can resort to corruption by practicing red tapism.

(2) Conservatism- Bureaucracy is often a source of conservatism. Being guided by traditional ways of administration, it can be guilty of practicing conservatism. “To tow the trodden paths” is a habit of the bureaucracy and its approach is usually conservative. It can be guilty of opposing progressive policies. It mostly favors the status quo in administration.

(3) Self-perpetuating-The Bureaucracy always tries to increase its number. The more the number, the lesser the work, and the more are the chances of promotion by seniority. In a study made by Parkinson, it was revealed that the bureaucracy has been expanding at the rate of 5.75% in England. The officials create work for each other.

(4) Empire-Building- The Bureaucracy is self-aggrandizing. It is always engaged in assuming more and more powers for itself. Civil servants often behave as power-hungry bureaucrats. They are always interested in securing more and more opportunities for getting involved in all the processes of politics, particularly in the process of making and implementing socio-economic programmes of the government.

(5) Ignoring public opinion and Needs- The bureaucracy can develop a bureaucratic attitude towards the public and ignore popular opinion and public needs. Civil Servants are not responsible to the people and this feature encourages them to remain indifferent to the demands of the public opinion. In the words of Pfiffner, “Routine procedures breed inflexibility with a passion for accountability and foster legalism and delay. The official, of necessity, becomes a specialist intellectually isolated, oriented towards techniques rather than the people.”

(6) Financial Wastefulness- The bureaucracy is always interested in getting more and more privileges, perks, and comforts in the name of efficient working of the department. ‘Government money’ is considered as ‘no one’s money’ or ‘free money’ and is often spent in a wasteful manner. There is a haste to exhaust the allocated resources before the closing of a financial year.

(7) Abuse of Power- The Bureaucracy tends to abuse power. Power has a corrupting influence in so far as it often induces civil servants to use their power for self-importance, self-benefit, and self-praise.

W. A. Robson rightly sums up the maladies from which the Bureaucracy can suffer, and usually does suffer, when he observes: “The maladies from which the Bureaucracy most frequently suffers are an excessive sense of self-importance on the part of officials or an undue idea of the importance of their office; an indifference towards the feelings or the convenience of the individual citizens; an obsession with the binding and inflexible authority of departmental decisions, precedents, arrangments or forms, regardless of how badly or with how much injustice they may work in individual cases; a mania for regulations and formal procedures, a pre-occupation with the activities of particular units of administration and an inability to consider the government as a whole, a failure to recognize the relations between the governors and the governed as an essential part of the democratic process.”

All these maladies often characterize the working of the Bureaucracy. In the main, red-tapism, class-consciousness, empire-building, self-perpetuation, conservative approach, a stiff-necked attitude of superiority, etc., are practiced by it. The attempts must, therefore, be made to eliminate these or at least reduce these to their lowest levels. Several suggestions can be made for securing this objective:

(1) While organizing Bureaucracy, the principles of the merit system of recruitment, adequate training, and good promotional opportunities must be followed.

(2) Every attempt should be made to keep high the morale and prestige of the civil services.

(3) Civil servants can be prevented from becoming arbitrary through decentralization of authority.

(4) The political executive should exercise necessary control over the bureaucracy. It must provide effective leadership to the civil servants.

(5) In order to make the civil servants responsive to the aspirations and needs of the people, advisory boards or committees consisting of common people from different walks of life should be organized. It should be made compulsory for government departments to periodically and regularly consult these committees regarding the functions being performed by them.

(6) The civil servants must be subjected to in-service training, refresher courses, and orientation programmes.

W. A. Robson lists the following four essential remedies against the maladies which characterize Bureaucracy:

(1) The Civil servants should be completely integrated with the community. They should be checked from becoming a separate class or caste by themselves.

(2) Civil services should give a broad representation to all the social and economic classes.

(3) There should be an effective and continuous system of communication between the governors and the governed i.e. between the government departments and the people whom they serve.

(4) There should be active participation of the laymen or non-officials in administration.

“Integration, communication, and participation should be the watchwords of those who desire to bring Public Administration into an organic relationship with the aspirations and needs of democratic government. They indicate the trends of development which, if pursued, will make the civil services, in the highest degree competent, responsive and responsible.”

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