Monday, July 18, 2011

Netherlands: City Part Tin Can Tower

The Netherlands is a country that is continuously in danger of being engulfed in a sea of red tape. They erect great dykes to keep this sea back called Stadsdeelkantoren. This means "Local Council Offices" or, literally, "City Part Tin Can Tower" or "Town Slice Side Ears." It depends how you divide it. There is a story that the "kantoor" part of the name is a contraction of "kan niet, hoor" (Trans: "NOT possible").

These are places where forms are filled in to get permission to fill in further forms; Where a receipt for a document is longer than the original document; Where anything outside of predefined norms is not possible or at the very least, the responsibility of some other vague department that you may never get in contact with.

This departmentalising (or, more accurately, compartmentalising) can be quite extreme. My mission to the local Statsdeelkantoor today was show them my birth certificate. This was to show them that I am not merely alive (that has been proven already) but that I was born and, I guess, not created in a factory or laboratory. (Although if I had the correct paperwork for that, it would be fine.)

Unrelated elephant
This is not a normal procedure, it would seem. This is evident by a few facts. Firstly, although I had a letter confirming the appointment, it wasn't in the receptionist's system. In most organisations this would mean a screw up with the system. But the receptionist, after a few moments of perplexed searching, realised that it meant it fell outside of the norm. She took me to the next level of people. The ones who deal with most of the people who come through their doors clutching pieces of paper. It was in their system, but they had no idea what to do about it. A couple of them discussed if for a few moments. In the end, they had to take me to a third level. Now, for me, none of this was a big issue. It meant I had to wait a few minutes for someone with the authority to work around the system to become free, but they do seem to have created extra work for themselves. Plus, given 3 members of their staff some moments of confusion. But, then again, these anomalies might be what keeps them going.

In think it's all part of bigger job creation scheme. The longer it takes to process anyone, the more people are needed. Proof of this scheme is shown by the entrance and exit doors. They are automatic. Great. Except that a security guard sat behind a computer has to press a button to approve it each time before they open. So they are not, in effect, automatic at all.

2 comments:

Invader Stu said...

You got to level 3? You know if they send you up to level five you have to fight the end of level boss.

Kira said...

I asked for a change in the Masterplan regarding my property. I did this via (1) Internet and (2) filled out forms send by (TNT) mail. Both applications contained the same information/documents

Guess what: one of the applications was approved, whereas the other was not 'as the application was incomplete and more information was needed'.

The tin is a little bit too sliced in parts!

Great post.
kira