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I work in the head office of a government department. We all have workstations, and very smart computers with a lot of very smart programs for administering this department in an efficient, paperless manner. On the floor below me we have highly trained IT branch, and a big server chugging away in a special air-conditioned room. We also have a help desk service. We have to call the helpdesk any time we have a problem with our computers. Each call costs the department around $30, because the helpdesk people are a private company, that we outsource our help needs to. Even if we know it is a problem that our own IT boffins downstairs need to look at, we aren’t allowed to contact them directly, we have to log the problem with the helpdesk and they will ‘escalate’ our problem downstairs. We also employ another company to manage our relationship with the help desk service providers. That is because the help desk service providers are not ‘public service certified’. This intermediary company has be in the room whenever we discuss our contract with the help desk people. I recently overheard an interesting call to the help desk, as we are in an open plan office. ‘Hello, I’ve got an error message to say my computer is being DE-BUGGERED!’ ‘DE-BUGGERED!’ ‘Are you sure you don’t mean DE-BUGGED?’ ‘Oh yeah. That makes more sense.’ One day my brain will just rot and ooze out of my ears.

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