Workers in and around the government have long sensed that bureaucratic behavior follows its own set of natural laws, but Norman R. Augustine has developed graphic evidence of the phenomenon.
Augustine, a vice president of Martin Marietta and formerly undersecretary of the army, has found a striking likeness between the growth pattern of a weed and the expansion of the Armed Services Procurement Regulation, which governs procurement of everything used in the nation's defense. Explains Augustine in last spring's issue of the Defense Systems Management Review: "Large organizations, probably epitomized by federal governments, seem to be susceptible to the concept that regulations can become a substitute for management. Today, for example, the U.S. government has imposed a set of 23,000 specifications on those who would seel it a simple mousetrap. But, in spite of all the established rules, it is soon discovered that special cases occur, each requiring still further rules. And, of course, as new rules are added, none of the old rules is ever discarded; none, that is, until the entire management-by-regulation concept collapses of its own weight and a new cycle begins based on an altogether new set of regulations." In short, just like a weed.