Peter Sperry

@Henry — My most memorable rule changing experience came in the mid 80s as a young Congressional staffer. The boss wanted the Corps of Engineers and the EPA to conduct a joint study of hydrology in our area and tasked me with coordinating the effort, arranging meetings and drafting legislation. At one point we had a Major General from the Corps in the office explaining why our request could not be accommodated. He kept quoting rules and regulations and we kept nodding and replying, “how do we deal with that?” The General got more and more frustrated and finally blurted: “You don’t understand! It would take an act of Congress to supersede these regulations!” There was dead silence and then my boss picked up the name plate on his desk, looked at it, turned to the General and said “I sort of assumed it would. That is why we’re having this meeting. Can you give us the information we need to draft that legislation?” A light went off in the General’s face, he became very helpful and we attached the legislation to a bill that became law later in the year. We were never able to get the project funded but still, I learned that rules truly are meant to be changed.

Later, while working as a full time National Guard Recruiter, I helped several recruits get enlistment waivers. Many of them required 2 star signatures and one went to the Secretary of the Army (waived a prior felony). Tough work, but I learned rules can always be waived by the proper authority.

I put those two lessons together and have come to believe that while it may take work to change or waive the rules; these two options eliminate any excuse for breaking them.