How the Federal Government Engorges Itself

April 7, 2015

By George Leef at National Review

Federal bureaucracies always seek to expand: more things to control, more apparatchiks to hire, more money to spend. That’s bad enough when the object of the bureaucracy is actually something the executive branch is supposed to do under the Constitution, but quite intolerable when the bureaucracy shouldn’t exist at all. In the latter group I would put the whole Department of Education and especially its Office for Civil Rights (OCR). There is no proper role for any branch of the federal government in higher education, but since the Carter administration, we have been stuck with a meddlesome and costly bunch of regulators in the Department of Education.

They always want more funding. In this letter,  former OCR bureaucrat Howard Kallem pleads that the agency needs more money. Obama’s budget would increase its budget from $100 million to $130 million and Kallem declares: “It must pass if OCR is to keep up with its increasing workload and with the expectations of students, schools, and the public. Even then, it will take months to hire people and even longer to train them, with morale at the agency continuing to suffer, more people leaving, and investigations continuing to take too long.“


Kallem’s pleading has much less force if you understand that to a great extent, the alleged need for OCR to hire more people to do more campus investigating is a problem of its own creation. As we read in this March 18 Washington Post piece, sex discrimination complaints are 24 percent of the total, but just “two individuals were responsible for filing more than 1,700 of those allegations….” Many of the complaints OCR receives are no doubt bogus, but some people love the attention they get by issuing them.

FIRE’s Robert Shibley is quoted about this: “To a large extent, this crush of complaints is a problem of OCR’s own making. There’s been a huge amount of confusion among colleges and administrators about how to handle these things. And that’s led to a lot of investigations being opened. I’m not saying that universities were handling sex assault complaints properly before — I doubt that they were. But increasing OCR’s staff by 30 percent would be the wrong way to go.”

We no more need to hire additional OCR bureaucrats to deal with the supposed wave of sexual assault on college campuses than we need to hire thousands more IRS officials to make sure that Americans are complying with Obamacare. Both are pure waste that takes more people away from potentially useful work and gives them government “jobs.”