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InsiderOnline Blog: July 2011

Government Doesn’t Think Like You Do

No kidding. A helicopter pilot’s recent experience with the Federal Aviation Administration:

[T]he FAA inspector looked at my random drug testing program to make sure that everything was in place. I’m subject to the same drug testing requirements as United Airlines. I am the drug testing coordinator for our company, so I am responsible for scheduling drug tests and surprising employees when it is their turn to be tested. As it happens, I’m also the only “safety-sensitive employee” subject to drug testing, so basically I’m responsible for periodically surprising myself with a random drug test. As a supervisor, I need to take training so that I can recognize when an employee is on drugs. But I’m also the only employee, so really this is training so that I can figure out if I myself am on drugs. As an employee, I need to take a second training course so that I learn about all of the ways that my employer might surprise me with a random drug test and find out about drug use. But I’m also the employer so really I’m learning about how I might trap myself.

Given the costs of this guy’s salary, pension, government-issued car, supervisor, and office space, I estimate that the records inspection cost the U.S. taxpayer $500. Just a handful of these inspections, therefore, would have paid for an online system that would eliminate the need for inspectors to drive around to folks’ hangars and houses.

Five minutes after the FAA inspector left, I received a phone call. “I’m from the FAA and we’d like to schedule an audit of your drug testing program.”

That’s from Philip Greenspun, “Revitalizing the U.S. Economy through Government Spending,” June 16, 2011 (h/t: Walter Olson, “Overregulation: The View from a Helicopter Cockpit,” Cato-at-Liberty, July 14, 2011).

Posted on 07/20/11 05:45 PM by Alex Adrianson

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