Why we love bureaucracy (and outsourcing)

It's been a decade since this California city's data center installed a high-heat and subfloor-water alert system in the wake of some air-conditioning failures, reports the IT pilot fish in charge of it.

"The system is monitored by a commercial company and has worked perfectly," says fish. "But we just got a notification and invoice from the city police department's Alarm Compliance unit, telling us we need to pay for an alarm permit.

"I decided not to go through having the police department become a vendor on the city's finance system, which they should to be paid. Instead, I took the purchasing credit card, went to the city cashier with the invoice and asked to charge it and give me a receipt so we can move on.

"But the cashier couldn't find the charge unit on the invoice that the payment should be applied to.

"An older cashier was called in. He informed us that the alarm payments can't be taken at the cashier counter because they are outsourced.

"So technically, the city has to pay the outsourcer, who takes his fee and returns the balance to the city.

"Everyone shook their heads, and the older cashier took the invoice and said he's going to look into why we're doing any of this, and he'll get back to me."

Here's what you should be doing: sending Sharky your story. Email your true tale of IT life to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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