Monday, April 20, 2009

Red Tape venting

I work for a department within the Municipality, which makes mine a government job. There are certain rules for procurement of products, services, supplies, etc. I know many of these rules. I've worked with this dept for almost 10 years, although I've only been responsible for the purchasing part for 8 years.

Last Friday I got in BIG trouble. It wasn't really aimed at me, but I took a 30 minute tongue-lashing from the main purchasing dept. It wasn't me who broke the rules, in fact, it was me who discovered it and tried to rectify it and make it alright. But I'm the one who got the big lecture. Then, in the course of that very one-sided discussion, it came to light that there's something else I'm doing wrong. YOWZER! I could not believe it. I have never heard this particular set of instructions in the past 8 years and have been guilty of it numerous times.

So now they are watching us. We've become known as "the department who tries to get around the rules." My argument is that if we knew the rules, we might be better able to abide by the rules. I was told to read Title 7. This is roughly 20 pages of legal-speak, municipal written rules with lots of whereofs and whereas'. It's excruciating to read. I know that's not a good excuse and I forced myself to read it today....lots of it comes down to "interpretation" though....much of which I interpret differently than they. Still not a good enough excuse though.

To make matters worse, not only am I supposed to read and understand it, but I'm supposed to make sure our staff (at least all of them who are authorized to make purchases of any kind) understand it too. Most of the people in my dept who are calling for services, products or supplies are laborer (manly men) types. I don't mean to say that disrespectfully because my husband is one of them. They are just much more interested in getting the job done or doing it themselves than they are in making sure all the paperwork is correct. In fact, they excel at hard work, but not at paperwork or following rules. A lot of the paperwork and rules seems unnecessary to them, although I do understand the reason behind them.

You can't just hire someone to come out and repair an electric gate opener because they are available and you want it done now. You have to verify that the proper bidding process was fair and equitable to all vendors, that they are bonded, insured, carry Workman's Compensation, have a current business license, etc. It can be a huge liability to the city if someone were injured on our site doing repairs for us. The guys in my dept don't get that though. They know So&So Company does a great job, will come when called, has fair prices and battabing, battaboom, job done.

I'm dreading my first real attempt to get all these guys to understand the reasons behind the new requirements and my ability to explain it well without antagonizing everyone....sometimes the messenger gets killed....wish me luck, I will need it!

So what do you do when the rules say one thing but you know your co-workers don't agree and very likely aren't listening. Do you report them? Do you help them hide their misdeeds? Do you tell them how it is, and let them suffer the consequences? Do you enlist your boss to deal with it all?

These are the questions I must answer for myself.


Aunt Krissy said...

Tell them the rules, or how to do it and then if they do it wrong, let them deal with the fall out.

tainterturtles said...

Ditto on Aunt Krissy.

I totally understand the language problem. Sometimes our union contract through my municipality can be the people that have the final vote! Sometimes policies or contracts are written so that only legal entities can read lawyers!!!!!

Isn' that sad. I feel your pain.

crochet lady said...

If you are directly responsible for them, then tell it like it is. Hope it goes well for you, and that you can understand all the jargon and be able to explain it.

Speaking the truth and following the rules causes a lot less problems and stress than covering an issue up.

A Free Spirit Butterfly said...

My heart goes out to you. I'm in the performance evaluation stage at work and I have eight detectives to deal with. They all know the rules, we each got a copy upon our graduation, some just shelved them and others never took possession of the books at all. I'm praying for you to get through this, but me on the other hand; will keep fighting the good fight for another 7 years ;-(

Love ya.
Pray first and maybe take a 3x5 card with a few inpisrational words for comfort.

PAK ART said...

All good helpful responses. Thanks! I did talk to our director today about the problem. He is aware that we are going to have tighter rules and seems to understand that it is the way it is. I'm bringing it up at our manager's meeting tomorrow to discuss how to move forward. I'm going to suggest training for everyone that purchases and if they can't make the training then they are going to lose that privalege. I'm also planning to bring in someone from the purchasing office, so they aren't just getting it from me (their friend) but are hearing it loud and clear from a more authoritive voice.