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There’s a Hole in the bucket

local state and federal government agenciesAs a child, I attended a summer camp that produced many memories. One memory popped up recently as I attempted to navigate through the maze of local, state and federal government agencies.

So why did dealing with a complex bureaucratic system remind me of summer camp? I’m glad you asked.

While attending the summer camp, evenings were topped off by sitting around a campfire and learning various things, including songs. One song was called “There’s a Hole in the Bucket.” The lyrics detail a conversation between a man named Henry and his wife, Liza. The boys started the song, and the girls answered. The song went like this:

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.

So fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
So fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, fix it.

With what should I fix it, dear Liza, dear Liza,
With what should I fix it, dear Liza, with what?

With straw, dear Henry…

But the straw is too long dear Liza…

So cut it dear Henry…

With what should I cut it, dear Liza…

With an axe, dear Henry…

But the axe is too dull, dear Liza…

So, sharpen it, dear Henry…

With what should I sharpen it, dear Liza …

Use the stone, dear Henry…

But the stone is too dry, dear Liza…

So wet it, dear Henry…

With what should I wet it, dear Liza…

With water, dear Henry…

With what should I carry it, dear Liza…

Use the bucket dear Henry…

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.

local state and federal government agenciesMy adventure with various agencies started after a concern I had about the improper use of chemicals that are a human health hazard and an environmental problem.

My “hole in the bucket” experience started when, as a concerned citizen, I attempted to report my concern to a local agency. I was referred to a state agency that referred me to a federal agency, which referred me to a state agency, then back to a local agency, and back to the state agency. While each acknowledged my concerns were valid, none gave me instructions on how actually to file and follow up on the report. After insisting with the state agency that I be allowed to file a complaint, I was able to do so but with the understanding that it was unlikely to be acted upon. I was able to eventually get an explanation that the violations I read about on the agency’s website own only apply to violations on state-protected land. The fact that the chemicals will eventually leach into the river was not a factor unless I could demonstrate this would occur. Lacking expertise in this area, I cannot provide the necessary proof.

local state and federal government agenciesIn all encounters with these agencies, the person I talked to was courteous and seemed concerned but did not know what to do with the information provided.

As I thought about my experience and how it affected my opinion of the various agencies, I considered how my team at Allen & Company interacted with clients. It has always been our goal to provide exceptional service. While my interactions with the government agencies were frustrating, I doubt any of the individuals I spoke with at these agencies realized just how frustrating it is to have concerns go unaddressed.

If any of you ever have suggestions on how we can improve, please let us know.

May 2022

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