Dealing with Bureaucracy, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
Government and Law
Bureaucracy

Dealing with Bureaucracy
There is no one rule in dealing with bureaucracy. Government agencies at all levels can be difficult to deal with if you don't know your way around, though many agencies will bend over backwards to make themselves accessible to the public. If you have to deal with a bureaucratic agency, remember that it doesn't pay to get mad at them. Your goal is to figure out how to communicate with them and how to get the best results from them. It pays to learn what agencies you'll have to deal with in your community or your business, what levels they operate on (national, state, county or local), where they are located, and what their basic procedures are.

Get Assistance. A lawyer can help you, though you may have to pay a fee. Often a social service agency or a social worker can help you get results. But the best way to get through to a public agency is through a local politician. Politicians like to do favors for the people who elect them to office, and, of course, many are dedicated to helping the public. Politicians will often have staffs of assistants whose only task is to help constituents (the voters in their district) with problems with the government, landlords and merchants. You can always write to one of your state's two Senators or your local Representative in Washington, but you are more likely to get results with one of your state representatives or a local representative like a city councilmember or alderman. A letter to the public servant clearly stating the problem is the best way to start. If you become involved in a political campaign or organization you will be in a position to have your case heard by people who can help you.

Paperwork. If you have a series of dealings with a public agency, keep accurate records, plus copies of all correspondence, so you can help the local politician's office do their best for you. The more you can learn about how the agency works before you go to the politician for help, the better.


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