Bureaucrats Need Not Apply?!?

I recently ran across a post card advertisement for GovLoop that reads “Calling all Gov’t Rockstars; Bureaucrats need not apply.” Are we not bureaucrats? Why has bureaucrat become a dirty word?

Max Weber defined a bureaucrat as the following:

  • He/she is personally free and appointed to his/her position on the basis of conduct
  • He/she exercises the authority delegated to him/her in accordance with impersonal rules, and his/her loyalty is enlisted on behalf of the faithful execution of his/her official duties
  • His/her appointment and job placement are dependent upon his/her technical qualifications
  • His/her administrative work is a full-time occupation
  • His/her work is rewarded by a regular salary and prospects of advancement in a lifetime career
  • He/she must exercise his/her judgment and his skills, but his/her duty is to place these at the service of a higher authority. Ultimately he/she is responsible only for the impartial execution of assigned tasks and must sacrifice his/her personal judgment if it runs counter to his/her official duties.
  • Bureaucratic control is the use of rules, regulations, and formal authority to guide performance. It includes such things as budgets, statistical reports, and performance appraisals to regulate behavior and results.

Max Weber. Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. 1921 pp. 650–78

This definition clearly aligns with my current career as well as makes me proud to serve and be “enlisted on behalf of the faithful execution of my official duties.”

I say we empower the word “bureaucrat” and take it back from those who would use it as an explitive.

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Margaret Schneider Ross

So…yeah, I’m a bureaucrat, but I’m also a technocrat. I claim both. Proudly. One refers to the way in which I want government in a democracy to work and the other refers to the way I want to approach problem solving in a democratic government.