OBVIOUSLY, WAYNE NORRIS hasn't learned the guiding principle of government service -- namely, that a bureaucrat never, never admits that his (or her) job is dispensable. Throwing flow charts to the wind, Mr. Norris reportedly has asked the government of Montgomery County to -- gasp -- abolish his job. He is contending that the position isn't necessary.Worse yet, the county government is accepting his contention, just like that. No grievances, gobbledygook, appeals, hearings, rulings or lawsuits -- just the saving of his $23,000-a-year salary come July 1. It goes without saying that this extraordinary action will, in time, be challenged by some appropriate agency authorities, whoever they may be and whatever they are supposed to be doing every day.
While they're out looking for the proper quadruplicate forms to protest the elimination of Mr. Norris' job and/or to seek his involuntary reinstatement, let's review the case: Mr. Norris has been filling a job in the county's Department of Environmental Protection. He has been a development process cordinator, which, as any loyal civil servant knows, is an invaluable slot in every interagency programmatic scheme utilized for finalizing the delivery of systemic modes and eliminating duplication and overlap. Yet Wayne Norris says he's already coordinated all the processes -- that he has accomplished some of the things the job was created to do, and that other duties have been transferred to another office during a recent reorganization.
As for the future of Mr. Norris in government service, it doesn't look bad. His boss, Fran Abrams, thinks he's a talented individual and has said she doesn't think he will have any difficulty landing another job with the county. That kind of pattern -- rewarding those who officially report that their positions should be abolished -- could set off a chain reaction. What if others seek advancement in government by exposing the uselessness of their current jobs? With so many new state and local leaders eager for efficiency -- Gov. Harry Hughes, Mayor Marion Barry, County Executives Charles Gilchrist and Lawrence Hogan, to name a few -- we could be in for a wholesale fat-paring. If that really happens, you can thank Mr. Norris -- as we should (and do) anyway.