Too Much Bureaucracy Is Bad In Offices, Worse When You Handle Nukes

Too Much Bureaucracy Is Bad In Offices, Worse When You Handle Nukes

While we’ve written before about how bureaucracy–the power of the desk–presents a problem to innovation, we didn’t know that the threat level could be nuclear.

That changed when we read John Reed’s new post on Foreign Policy, in which the writer unpacks a Department of Defense report that decries the “ludicrous” levels of red tape unspooling inside the Air Force.

How bad has it gotten? Nuclear bombs are being manhandled.

The best example comes from the exciting world of truck transport. Reed writes that the people who maintain nuclear weapons aren’t allowed to use the hoists that lift the bombs onto maintenance trucks.

Why? Because, he says, the end of the bolt that secures the hoist to the truck is flush with the outer surface of the nut–while the rules say that two threads below the surface of the nut need to be visible.

This flush-nut condition has been around since the trucks were introduced 22 years ago, Reed writes. It’s never been a problem. But the Air Force recently disallowed units from using the hoists since they didn’t meet “technical safety specifications.”

So what’s happening now without the hoists? Reed relays the result:

“An awkward process entailing the use of a forklift to move the weapon into the truck and the manhandling of the 200-pound tail section,” states the report. The document goes on to describe the workaround as a procedure “that by any informed judgment, impose[s] far greater safety risk than that presented by the deficiency in the bolt length.”

But don’t lose hope: New bolts are supposedly on their way and a new truck is slotted to enter the service in two years. Unless they don’t.

That’s the power of the desk: crippler of companies, clumsy-er of nukes.

DOD panel: Silly rules are causing airmen to handle nuclear bombs with forklifts

[Image: Flickr user U.S. Air Force]DB