Scott Morrison has got it wrong: merging departments will increase congestion, not bust it

If you want to make government departments more responsive and to decrease the amount of red tape then you make them smaller not larger. However, when you do this you relinquish a certain amount of control.

If you wish to be able to maintain control over your departments, you make them bureaucratic, that is large, dependable, impersonal, reliable departments. There is nothing wrong with bureaucracies. Governments have been using them for hundreds of years. They ensure that everybody gets a fair go. That government is free from corruption and influence by individuals such as members of Parliament because they are governed by rules and regulations.

Conservative politicians like to label this red tape but in fact it is a protection that the citizens have against the processes of government being corrupted.

Bureaucracies such as those in Canberra have a number of characteristics

  1. Task specialisation (Specialization and Division of Labour)
  2. Hierarchical of authority
  3. Formal selection
  4. Rules and requirements
  5. Impersonal (Impersonality and Personal Indifference)
  6. Career orientation

Max Weber wrote this in 1905.

Max Weber

Each one of these is underpinned by sets of rules and regulations also known as red tape. The larger the bureaucracy to more rules and regulations, i.e. the more red tape

In deciding to increase the number of government departments from 18 to 14 Prime Minister, Scott Morrison is moving in exactly the wrong direction if he wants to speed up the processes of government

Increasing the size of the bureaucracy is not the way to decrease the amount of red tape.

The larger the department, the more coordination, more communication, the more layers of management, the more rules and regulations are required. The larger department is the slower it is to make decisions and to get things done. This means looks as if it is being slowed down by red tape.

Smaller departments make decisions more quickly because the processes work faster.

Someone needs to go back and do Management 101 or where ever it is that they teach bureaucratic theory and the ideas of Max Weber.

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