Posts Tagged ‘Stimulus Funds’

Even the Bureaucrats Don’t Understand Bureaucracy

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Pushing from Washington to Trenton

Pushing from Washington to Trenton

I must have a perverse sense of humor, but I did see something funny in the recent controversy over New Jersey’s failure to secure $400 million in federal funds from the federal government in connection with the Race to the Top program. The State’s Education Department submitted the figures for the wrong program year, confusing 2011 with 2009, in New Jersey’s grant application, causing a five-point deduction in the state’s application for education stimulus funds. Finger pointing ensued, with educational leaders outraged with the rigid approach that resulted in NJ’s disqualification. NJ Governor Christie created a memorable photo opportunity when he tapped his finger on the 1,000+ pages of the Race to the Top application, highlighting its needless complexity. Of course, both sides missed the point: improving education is the goal, not figuring out how to shuffle funds between Peter and Paul.

But for anyone who has ever been through the process of dealing with federal disaster relief agencies, both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration, it is humorous. The federal government’s interest is in preserving its own bureaucracy, not in aiding disaster relief. You need a PhD in bureaucratese to navigate this opaque system. So to see the state bureaucrats at a disadvantage in dealing with federal bureaucrats brought a smile to my face. Because we are all at a disadvantage in dealing with federal bureaucrats.