How complexity imperils faith in our public institutions – Hugh Segal

Thoughtful comments. Money quote:

One must also be clear that certain aspects of the public sector have an interest in the salutary obfuscation of complexity. National security agencies, finance departments, central banks, some immigration and social service regimes find complexity and conflicting goals and applications helpful in maintaining their unchallenged jurisdiction and broad discretion. Their intent may be constructive but constructing through rules, regulations, contradictory and time-sensitive criteria and related machinations a cloud of uncertainty raises complexity and its construction to an act of sheer artistry.

The challenge for governments and those who care about democracy is not of doing away with complexity – which in a multifaceted, multi-racial and economically diverse society is unavoidable. The challenge is in finding ways to reduce it, simplify it and manage it so that the complexity itself does not destroy the efficacy of public institutions but even the public desire for those institutions to exist and be of service in the first place.

How complexity imperils faith in our public institutions – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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