A regulatory story

Today I am going to tell you a story– the story of a library invoice who goes to live in a corporate library.


The little invoice arrives in the mail room downstairs, and is delivered to the assistant.


The assistant opens the envelope and stamps it and puts it in a stack of other newborn invoices.


The stack is eventually brought to me, and I do the library processing: stamp it for accounts payable and enter the data in our tracking system, using library fund accounts.


The invoice then goes to the library supervisor, and she signs it and brings it to department AP.


Department AP does primary processing and enters the data into the department’s tracking system, using appropriate cost centers etc.


Then it goes to be signed by department AP supervisor.


The department processing is finalized, and the invoice goes to the company AP.


They finish the processing, making sure that the data is entered correctly in the company’s tracking system with department financial codes (that makes three tracking centers, though the last two interface).


Finally the check is cut and mailed to the vendor, and the invoice goes to live in the giant file cabinet in the sky.


There are slight variations, but I’ll spare you.


The point is, this is absurd.  We all know it is absurd.  And we do it anyways.


We work in energy, a partially regulated industry.  Everybody watches us, so we have to track everything and justify every penny spent, especially if that money comes from rate payments (your electric bill).  And even knowing how absurd it is, I would choose this any day over the current embarrassment that is the financial crisis.  Everyone who is connected to the power grid relies on regulation and accountability– not just accountability to shareholders, but to the customers and to the government.  Sure, you can hook up a generator in your backyard and keep potatoes in your cellar; sure, you can make your own clothes and cook over an open fire.  But for those of us who prefer civilization, we rely on community and accountability.  If that means government, so be it. 


Unless anyone has any other ideas.


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