An Internationally based colleague who spent some time in Australia, most graciously sent me a provocative reply to one of my recent posts.

He raised the issue of Australian Engineering & Construction companies large and small suffering from the effects of excess bureaucracy, making them slow, inflexible and expensive.

He reminded me of the challenges of excess bureaucracy that show up, particularly for foreign companies when they initially tender for Government Infrastructure projects. A major hurdle must be overcome in the form of tendering requirements, which are typically extensive, hugely expensive by International standards and a source of frustration for many.

To sum up his thoughts with a quote:

“The government should ease bureaucracy to help local businesses grow. Australia has great potential but help should come from within.”

I absolutely agree with his sentiments. My colleague has highlighted local bureaucracy as a key impediment to delivering effective and efficient Infrastructure projects, which International entrants as well as local players continue to struggle with.

Most of course would regard necessary bureaucratic activities such as project cost/benefit evaluation, environmental assessments and community consultation with the importance that this work deserves. Indeed, these activities ultimately enable the designers and constructors to better meet the needs of the community (who – in the end – we build the infrastructure for).

Unfortunately, I also regularly encounter the sort of unnecessary “make-work” bureaucracy that achieves no more than creating a barrier to getting the job done.

So what should we do about this?

Here’s a simple idea. Wherever and whenever we encounter this stuff, we should all be prepared to stand up and say:

Why are we doing this?

Does anyone disagree?