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I kinda had that in mind...

And faster than Jérôme can say "data is not the plural of anecdote" :-) let me tell you about my own valiant experience in the military.

It was 15 years ago but I know things haven't changed that much.  I did military service in a military administration where all military personnel from NCO on up had a civilian "double" who held the same job with an equivalent civilian rank.  The military were overstaffed and underworked by any standards meaning that their civilian doubles did practically no work at all.  This left plenty of time for the civilians to study tasks they would never perform.  Once they had passed the test proving they had acquired new skills, they were entitled to a pay raise of course.  The General in charge tried to change things by granting the pay raises to those who actually used the new skills in their job.  Silly general! He almost caused a strike before backing down from his new fascist rule.

I'm not claiming that all administrations are as wasteful as the military but I'm pretty sure we can lop off much gvt spending without crippling real public services.

Cheers

by Guillaume on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 11:07:08 AM EST
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Like I mentioned in one of the DADCSI diaries, I know from an insider source of a base in Britanny where every computer is equipped with Windows NT. That's probably something like a 120 euro overhead for nothing, on each PC. Besides, why would the army not be capable of developing its own version of Linux or BSD? And I won't even get into security considerations ...
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 11:12:03 AM EST
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DADVSI
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 11:12:30 AM EST
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The key there is "15 years ago" when work-force was cheap for the Army if not particularly efficient nor motivated (draft). Things have changed a lot since. The MoD had to move a lot of people around to handle tasks previously covered by drafted grunts and I don't think your do-nothing civil servants are allowed to sit idle anymore.
by Francois in Paris on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 11:22:08 AM EST
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Well actually, I ran into my old NCO the other day (a great guy who actually did get things done).  A lot of the civilians that I had known were still in the same place and apparently not that much had changed in that neck of the woods.  Admittedly, it was a pretty protected administration which was never going to be on the forefront of spending cuts. I concede your broader point : overall the military has become more efficient than 15 yrs ago having, among others, lost access to freeish labour.

Nevertheless, in my initial post, I dwelt on the labor cost aspect to keep it short but procurement, mandated hardware and software requirements (as Alex mentions), were also quite wasteful. Overall I'm confident that there's still a lot of room for cost reduction.

by Guillaume on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 11:54:49 AM EST
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