"Thank God it's not a bullshit detector or none of us would get in."
--Susan Atwell (No Way Out)
Great article on the thousands of reports due to Congress every year--many if not most of which go unread. Here is a more detailed breakdown of various reports issued and a review of the Dog and Cat Fur Protection report highlighted in the article.
A couple of brief points:
Today's out-of-control paper blizzard situation was all too predictable back in 1792 when Congress requested its first report.
Some might argue that bureaucracy exists in all organizations, so its presence in government is nothing unique. Indeed, any organization is susceptable to bureaucratic bloat. In unhampered markets, however, the heat is always on to reduce bloat. Competitive environments drive organizations to squeeze out bureacracy in never ending pursuit of productivity gains. Wasteful practices can only persist where there is no pressure for productivity improvement. Government is one such place.
It is hard not to imagine what could be done with the resources squandered to satisfy Washington reporting requirements. The article cites a 1993 estimate of $100 million to prepare congressional reports. I would not be surprised if today's cost was 5+ times that amount--i.e., at least one half trillion dollars. This report on the Social Security Administration's annual printing activities takes nearly 100 employees 3 months to complete.
Those economic resources could feed a lot of people...