Fighting Poverty with Passion
In graduate school I studied public administration, which is essentially the study of bureaucracies and their actions. As a VISTA working for Tulane in a New Orleans public school, I have moved from looking at the theory of bureaucracies to interacting with a variety of different organizations. Let me provide a run-down of all the organizations I encounter on a daily basis.
Clearly there is a wide range of organizations that I encounter regularly. Not all of these can be considered bureaucracies, but most of them are fairly large organizations that have formalized rules and procedures. These rules and guidelines can often seem cumbersome and unnecessary to someone like me, who is at the lower end of the organizational chains of command. As a “front-line worker” (or “street-level bureaucrat,” as we said in school), you want to have discretion to perform your job to the best of your ability, and sometimes rules can impede that discretion.
As a VISTA, I have certainly found a number of regulations that I must comply with, but overall I am surprised by the amount of discretion I have been given by all of my governing organizations. I am free to pursue goals that I have thought of myself using original methods. And when I do encounter rules and bureaucratic measures that seem to slow or frustrate my efforts, I need to remind myself that there is usually good reason for these measures. The organizations who I work with want me to succeed. I am glad to have a large amount of discretion in my work, and happy to have a large number of organizations support my ideas.