Bureaucrats' language is something to behold

June 03, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

Knowing that I collect classic examples of bureaucratic jargon, an employee of the Internal Revenue Service has sent me a splendid, authentic document.

It is a lengthy memo to all IRS workers, jointly prepared by the IRS commissioner and the head of the National Treasury Employees Union.

The memo seems to tell everyone how well the IRS and the union have been working together.

Or as the memo puts it: "Subject: IRS/NTEU Total Quality Organization Partnership Agreement -- Second Edition."

And it goes on with such choice phrases as:

". . . In January 1993, IRS and NTEU entered into the TQO Partnership Agreement. Again, the motivation for this joint undertaking was a recognized operational need and desire to significantly improve our mission delivery and a belief that the tenets of TQO would advance this goal. The TQO Partnership Agreement also acknowledges that improvement and re-invention of the magnitude called for in the Business Vision require the energy and support of the entire work force."

Got that? If so, let us go on:

"Over the past year, much has transpired. We have . . . communicated our Business Vision, announcing our organizational configuration, which will impact on how we do business well into the 21st Century. . . . Developed a joint Redeployment Understanding which reconfirms our commitment to Policy Statement P-O-112, acknowledging the contribution that each of you can continue to make to the organization; and initiated an investment strategy to increase resources in front line compliance and customer service activities to assist us in reducing the tax gap and improving the level of compliance to 90 percent by the end of the decade."

Ah, yes, the old Business Vision trick. Later, it says:

"Our re-invention efforts have received additional support from the administration in the Vice President's National Performance Review (NPR). As with our TQO Partnership, a key component of the NPR is the involvement of employees and their exclusive representatives in the improvement of our governmental systems. President Clinton further emphasized the criticality of employee participation in government re-invention when he signed Executive Order 12871 on October 1, 1993. . . .

"At the center of the partnership established by this Executive Order is the National Partnership Council. . . .

"The primary goal of this council is to foster partnerships within federal government. This includes the development of legislative proposals for the President which are endorsed by all members of the council and which substantively change personnel laws and regulations. These proposals will focus on implementing human resource practices which will provide for and encourage an augmented contributory role of federal employees."

Well, is there anyone who isn't for an augmented contributory role? I hope not. And the excitement mounts, as the memo plows forward:

"Building on this Executive Order and our IRS/NTEU TQO Partnership Agreement, this memorandum signals the beginning of the next phase of our cooperative effort. Effective immediately through the bodies identified below, NTEU will have involvement in pre-decisional issues that shape our future.

"An IRS/NTEU National TQO Partnership Council will meet at least monthly. It will be co-chaired by the National President of NTEU and the modernization executive."

Pre-decisional issues. I might drop that phrase into a lunchtime chat.

Now under a full head of steam, the memo says:

"At the local level, districts and service centers, both IRS and NTEU leadership will mirror the national configurations when and where appropriate. The objective is upfront involvement as a full partner in how we go about our business."

Sure. If you can't mirror the national configurations when and where appropriate, why the heck bother going to work?

Then comes this bold vow:

"To institutionalize these significant adjustments in our organizational commitment to quality, we are issuing the 2nd Edition of the IRS/NTEU TQO Partnership Agreement. It supersedes the January 11, 1993, Agreement and represents a recognition of the evolving and expanding nature of the partnership, reaffirmation of our commitment to the partnership, and further acknowledgment of the partnership's indispensable value to meeting our business objectives."

I hope this gives you a better understanding of why the tax forms and tax regulations can make you cross-eyed.

That's the way these people talk to each other too.

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