Jim Zorn, the second-year head coach of the Washington Redskins, has been plagued by his team’s lack of scoring, despite the fact Zorn was hired to install a new and improved offense. To remedy this, Redskins management announced yesterday the hiring of an “offensive consultant” – a coach who hasn’t been employed since 2004 – to serve as “another set of eyes” for Zorn. Redskins general manager Vinny Cerrato said the consultant’s exact role would be determined later.
The football press saw this “consultant” hiring for what it was: a non-admission admission by the Redskins that they made a mistake hiring Zorn in the first place. Rather then admit error, Cerrato and his boss, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, chose to add another level of bureaucracy to deflect public criticism away from their own mistakes. It’s an apropos act from a football team located in the heart of the nation’s political bureaucracy – if only the political press were as observant as football writers.Governments routinely hire “consultants,” under a variety of titles, to add a layer of bureaucracy while simultaneously claiming such moves will improve function. The most noteworthy recent examples are the various “czars” created by the Obama regime. Despite the despotic title, these individuals are little more than consultants who “advise” the president and provide a patsy who can be blamed if things don’t go as planned. Adding consultants provide a simple, yet costly method of ensuring the individuals at the top of the hierarchy are never held accountable.
Consider the post-9/11 “reorganization” of various failed bureaucracies into a larger bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security, or the creation of a “Director of National Intelligence” to supervise the existing “Director of Central Intelligence.”
Even at the local level, elected officials barricade themselves behind a moat of consultants and make-work positions. Just yesterday here in Charlottesville, the incumbent Democratic mayor called for the “establishment of an Office of Neighborhood Advocate” who would “work with residents in our neighborhoods to help them navigate city hall.” Because the elected mayor and city council – and the existing score of department heads under their control – can’t also be responsible for working directly with residents. Nor, apparently, does the mayor feel any obligation to reduce the size and complexity of city government to make things easier for residents. Why do any actual work yourself when you can hire a consultant to pretend to address the problem for you?
At least in the Redskins situation, the consultant is merely a stopgap measure before the head coach, Zorn, is ultimately fired. In the government sector, consultants have a tendency to stick around and multiply, clearing a path for even more dysfunctional government in the future – and an opportunity to hire another level of consultants.