Glenn Reynolds is writing about colleges, but he could just as easily be writing about public parks:
Full-time administrators now outnumber full-time faculty. And when times get tough, schools have a disturbing tendency to shrink faculty numbers while keeping administrators on the payroll. Teaching gets done by low-paid, nontenured adjuncts, but nobody ever heard of an “adjunct administrator.”
Replace “faculty” with “people actually working in a park” and administrators with “headquarters staff” and he has described the management of public parks exactly. Most parks agencies are suffering from administrative bloat, with more people in headquarters than out in the field actually running parks. When they have layoffs, it is always of field staff and not headquarters administrators. In the parks world they will even ignore major maintenance needs in favor of making sure they have the funds to keep paying headquarters staff.
It is just absurd. Of course, in our case, we make a business out of this. We operate public parks, and have 300 field employees actually in the parks and 2 in headquarters. It allows us to cut costs while simultaneously doing a better job.