Fighting bureaucracy with Murphy’s Law

Twelve hectares of our forests are under threat. But this time, the danger comes neither from greedy bark beetles nor from a destructive storm. It comes from an excessive zeal of one particular bureau – the Bureau for Personal Data Protection. The new law, which was passed last year, imposes new bureaucratic obligations on companies in regard to the Bureau for Personal Data Protection in Slovakia. Roughly estimating, this law will require numerous reports, filled forms, or certificates in paper form. The necessary amount of paper will take a toll on 12 hectares of forests. If we include in the calculations state administration, which will follow the same rules, the number of felled trees will grow almost exponentially. Of course, this will be the case only if the state doesn’t manage to enforce exemptions from the law, just like the one for the Slovak Post.

To beat bureaucracy, you have to make your problem theirs, similarly to one of the Murphy’s laws, which we can use to hopefully manage to save our forests. Thanks to our intensive media coverage of the problem, we can see flashes of brighter times. The government promised openness in the process of correcting mistakes in this law and making it more efficient. Companies are making a list of problematic issues, which have to be changed or struck out from the law itself. Even the Bureau for Personal Data Protection is willing to cooperate. It looks like we could solve two problems at once. By changing the law, we will remove unnecessary work when implementing EU legislation, while moderating the Bureau at the same time.

Can we speak of “a happy ending”? Definitely not. Even if we did manage to drag the whole thing to a successful solution, which is far from certain, it would only be a small victory in an endless war against bureaucracy. Don’t forget that at the time I am writing this piece and you’re reading it, other offices may be preparing even more senseless laws and restrictions. And, as always, they’ll be hiding behind the fig leaf of obscure “international obligations” or “Brussels directives”.

Therefore, the solution must be systemic. It must be based on a clear government commitment to constantly monitor, identify and penalize unnecessary working costs in implementation of international commitments into our legal framework. This time, it wouldn’t hurt if we started from the end. We could solve many problems in the future if we declared such overwork a capital offense in the state administration. Employees of state bodies and their superiors would think twice before putting obstructive mechanisms into force if their jobs were at stake – right in the spirit of Murphy’s Law: if they had more problems, we’d have them less.

Translated by Peter Blaha