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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Caught in a red tape

I received a morning greeting which says: “Sana maganda ang araw mo.” Sadly though, I do not have a good day! It is because I simply am pissed off from head to toe.

Who would not? Here is the reason why:

I am moonlighting in one of the institutions where I do a study. Some of the information I need can be found in my previous work. Expecting that my name still rings a bell among my former colleagues in my previous work (a private institution) or name dropping our former boss (who requested this information) would do the trick. So I got in touch with the point person, and expected that being one of them in the past or pakikisama would make it easier for me, so that I would not have to go through the formalities of sending an official letter, and so on. The information I was asking them was not exactly a public document. However, I believe that, practically, it becomes a public document once you work with the public. I was just asking them some information on the progress of their anti-poverty program.

It was just so upsetting when the point person told me to write a letter to their boss. So I made a draft letter to be sent by my client. But my client deems it would be unnecessary. Being a colleague in the same industry, he called the “smaller boss” who told the former that we can go directly to the “boss” of the point person.

Ecstatic with this development, I immediately called the “boss” today, but unfortunately, he is not around. As a usual recourse and not waste my celfone load, I told the lady who answered my call about my objective, who in later turned me over to another lady. Again, I narrated the “historical account” why I called their office, only to be told she could not decide on the matter because only the “boss” can decide. The best action would be to talk directly to the “boss” so I asked for his mobile number, but she refused to give me the number and reasoned out that her “boss” does not take calls from unknown callers. Duh! Again, I asked for the “boss’” direct email address so I can thoroughly explain my request. With some reservations in tone of her voice, she gave me the e-mail address. So back to square one—write an official letter, albeit not to the “big boss” anymore (which is, at least, one step further).

I do not know when the “boss” would reply to my e-mail. The first informal e-mail I sent to the point person was left unanswered. Would the "boss" do the same to me (being an "unknown person")? What are e-mail addresses for, anyway? Again….duh!

This experience is a far cry from NEDA’s efficiency and high concern for client relations. To think that it is a government agency, which is supposedly to be bureaucratic, I immediately got a response from them. A section chief whom I talked to even gave me a snack during our short meeting, personally accompanied me to different departments just to look for the information I needed, and gave me other names and numbers of contact persons in other agencies and partners where I could get some information I need. Sweet life!

And here is the lesson for the day:

Bureaucracy and red tape is not the monopoly of the government. Now that government agencies are always under the watchful eye of the discerning public, they are always trying to become more efficient and effective in their delivery of services. Primarily because they owe the public.

I feel sorry for private institutions, which are not bound by any civil obligations. The least they could do, I think, is uphold their moral obligations, especially when their intention is to work for and with the poor. What if the information I requested from them is a matter of national security or of life and death? We would all be ashes by now.

Sometimes, private institutions must also learn from government agencies when it comes to reducing red tape.

1 people have commented. Leave your comments too!:

hay... red tape.

any information within the public sector is public. hence should be readily available to the public upon request. unless the information requested is of national security concern or information pertaining to a public employee's personal and private life.

grabe ang bureaucracy.

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