April 1st, 2004


Tales in Bureaucracy II

Some years ago, I was at a party, and several of us got to talking about how bureaucratic the colleges we had gone to were. We shared some stories, and by the end, everyone agreed that it was a tie between Brandeis and Harvard for "most bureaucratic". For Brandeis, I told this story, the one I posted last week. Here is the story the guy from Harvard told us.

(Note: This is not my story, I'm retelling it as well as I can remember it, but can't guarantee accuracy.)

He worked for Harvard University, and his office was located in a building owned by Harvard. All Harvard-owned buildings are managed, he said, by the Harvard Real Estate Office. When any tenant wishes to move into space owned by Harvard, they have to negotiate a contract with the real estate office. The standard procedure is that the tenant hires a lawyer to represent them, the real estate office hires a lawyer to represent Harvard building management, and the two lawyers negotiate a contract - even if the tenant is itself a department of Harvard University.

This guy said that he worked for the Harvard Real Estate Office, and that they had recently moved their office into new space owned by Harvard. They followed the same standard procedure.