Friday, September 22, 2006

Head office calling

So, I get a phone call from Government Department A because we mention Government Department B in a piece of promotional literature. Why have we done this, she asks, because Government Department B report into Government Department A under some new government initiative (and one which is incomprehensibly named – its all letters – like Swahili translated into text message language).

Because we worked with Government Department A to develop the product, I say, 2 years ago, I say. She then proceeds to try and change things that have been in place for the last two years, things that can only be achieved if we go back in time. For example, the original decision by Government Department B to develop the product. She tells me we should have developed the product with Government Department A, even though when it was developed Government Department’s A and B weren’t linked and, it turns out, she wasn’t working for either. Also, on the same piece of literature, Government Department B are named as users of the product. Who are the people who have used the product, she asks, was it officially sanctioned by the department? When was it? Who authorized it?

I have no idea, I say, after all; they are merely contacts on our customer database. They’ve bought the product, but I have little understanding of what was going through their heads when they decided that the product was for them.

She then proceeds to tell me that they should have been authorised centrally and that they have no record of this happening, etc. etc. Unfortunately I can’t tell her who the people are due to the Data Protection Act.

Why is it that people in government departments seem to assume that you know how they work? It’s like you’re being held responsible if they don’t follow their own protocols and bureaucratic processes. I’m very glad for the government; the roads they lay, the lighting they put up, the criminals they catch. But I’m not really interested in the minutiae of their inner workings, or the endless restructuring. If something is not working at their end. That’s surely their problem.


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