bureaucracy

plausible deniability

The ability to deny blame because evidence does not exist to confirm responsibility for an action. The lack of evidence makes the denial credible, or plausible. The use of the tactic implies forethought, such as intentionally setting up the conditions to plausibly avoid responsibility for one’s future actions.

The term was coined by the CIA in the 1960s to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that certain activities by the CIA became public.

turkey farm

A government agency or department staffed primarily with political appointments and other patronage hires.

A Vanderbilt University study notes that “In every administration certain agencies acquire reputations as ‘turkey farms’ or ‘dead pools.’ Positions in these agencies get filled with less qualified administrators, often by presidents under pressure to find jobs for campaign staff, key donors, or well-connected job-seekers.”

After the Federal Emergency Management Agency was unprepared for the 1989 San Francisco earthquake and Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew in 1989 and 1992, a federal report noted the agency “is widely viewed as a political dumping ground, ‘a turkey farm’…where large numbers of positions exist that can be conveniently and quietly filled by political appointment.”

gobbledygook

A term coined by Rep. Maury Maverick (D-TX) for obscure and euphemistic bureaucratic language.

World Wide Words: “He used the word in the New York Times Magazine on 21 May 1944, while he was chairman of the US Smaller War Plants Committee in Congress, as part of a complaint against the obscure language used by his colleagues. His inspiration, he said, was the turkey, ‘always gobbledy gobbling and strutting with ludicrous pomposity’. The word met a clear need and quickly became part of the language. It is sometimes abbreviated slightly to gobbledygoo.”