Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Nobody works in the Civil Service
I have worked extensily in government departments over the years. It has definitely been an experience.
Take for example the man I sat next to in the Hydrographic Office who never said a word while the boss was in the office and then talked endlessly until the boss walked back in.
Or the man at the Property Services Agency who got me to do all the work and then put his mate's name on the paperwork.
There have been many other examples, but for the piece de resistance, I have to nominate the Rural Payments Agency. Here's why :
(1) There was an ex-contractor there I had worked with on another job. He was on a 12 month fixed term contract as a business analyst at £40,000 a year. He openly admitted to me that he had about enough work for two hours a week if he strung it out. He was counting the days until his contract ran out. I saw him on a bus six months later. He told me he had signed on for another 12 months because it was "easy money and just too good a deal to turn down".
(2) At the far end of the office was a manager who hardly ever seemed to be there. I asked my boss why. He told me that the guy had no work to do so he used to make up business trips for three days a week and come in for a few hours on the other two days "in between meetings".
(3) As contractors, we do all the work so the staff do as little possible. Because of this, I was doing the work of seven people who did nothing while I did it all. Their manager said to me one day "I don't like you and I don't want you here." "Never mind, " I replied. "You're a big girl and you'll get over it. And just think of all the credit you can take for my work after I've gone!" She thought about that and then left smiling.
"Yes", I replied, "but what is it that you do?"
"I told you. I'm a civil servant. I've been a civil servant for thirty odd years."
I couldn't get past the barrier, so the next day I asked my boss what the bloke did. He told me that he did nothing, but he only had a few years to go until he retired and it was cheaper to let him sit there and pay him than it was to retire him early!
I can honestly tell you that from my vantage point in the corner of a huge open plan office, if you got rid of half the staff there would have been no appreciable difference.
My wife is an ex-civil servant. She is horrified at how things are these days. They certainly weren't like that when she was there....