Parkinson's law is the adage first articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955.
“ Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. ”
It was later reprinted together with other essays in the book Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress (London, John Murray, 1958). He derived the dictum from his extensive experience in the British Civil Service.
The current form of the law is not that which Parkinson refers to by that name in the article. Rather, he assigns to the term a mathematical equation describing the rate at which bureaucracies expand over time. Much of the essay is dedicated to a summary of purportedly scientific observations supporting his law, such as the increase in the number of employees at the Colonial Office while Great Britain's overseas empire declined (indeed, he shows that the Colonial Office had its greatest number of staff at the point when it was folded into the Foreign Office because of a lack of colonies to administer).
He explains this growth by two forces:
(1) "An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals" and
(2) "Officials make work for each other."
He notes in particular that the total of those employed inside a bureaucracy rose by 5-7% per year "irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done."
In 1986, Alessandro Natta complained about the swelling bureaucracy in Italy. Mikhail Gorbachev responded that "Parkinson's Law works everywhere."
Paula who blogs as Masterwordsmith, has done some research to come out with the following highlights:
When we first achieved Merdeka, for every RM5 spent, RM1 was for administration and RM4 for development. Today, its the other way around. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development standards, Malaysia is known to have one of the most bloated civil service in the world! ...
So we have 1.7 million Malaysians paying the salaries of 1.2 million employees in the civil service which means that approximately 1.5 tax-paying Malaysians is paying the salary of ONE civil servant.
...Since the 1990's, the civil service has been expanding rapidly with accelerated growth since 2007. To give you a clearer picture, take a look at the following figures:
1990: 773,997 government employees
2000: 894,788 staff members
2010: @ 1.2 million government employees
2011: 1.3 million government employees (Source: FMT) ...
Staff size of the PMD
Staff size: 4,414 staff in the PMD
TWENTY YEARS LATER
Staff size: 9,673 ( this is an increase of 119.14% after TWENTY YEARS)
Staff size: 21,045 in 2003 (this is an increase of 117.564% in TWO YEARS)
Year : 2009
PM: PM Najib Razak
Satff Size: 25,332 (this is an increase of 20.37% over 6 years)
PM: PM Najib
Staff size: 43,544 people (this is an increase of 71.893% in ONE YEAR!!!!)
More where that came from: Mahal Tali Dari Lembu (the rope is more expensive than the cow)
The title of her blog post must have been influenced by the recent controversy over NFC, while I cannot help finding it funny with Hokien's 'Cow peh cow boo'!
Anyway, it looks like our ever increasing civil service is directly related to our PMs' quick fixes to 'solve' problems like unemployed graduates, and dwindling grassroots support for ruling coalition. The political expediency of being nice to the civil service includes occasional pay increases and bonuses regardless of efficiency. Anwar has reassured there will be no cut in civil service if Pakatan were to rule. Perhaps, one of the ways of making use of an already bloated workforce is to use some to put in place an efficient internal 'check and balance' within government departments to counter corruption. But to start with, better training would ensure efficient service which would dispel the public's perception of the need to bribe to solve their applications or problems. We need the cooperation of the civil service to improve administration, not witch hunts.