Archive for November 5th, 2014

November 5, 2014

Cover Your Ass


mistakes were made

Cover your ass (CYA) describes activity, usually in a work-related or bureaucratic context, done by an individual to protect himself or herself from possible subsequent legal penalties or criticism. According to lexicographer William Safire, it describes the bureaucratic technique of ‘deflecting responsibility in advance,’ that is, diffusing responsibility for one’s actions as a form of insurance against possible negative repercussions. It can denote a type of institutional risk-averse mentality which works against accountability and responsibility, often characterized by excessive paperwork and documentation (red tape), which can be harmful to the institution’s overall effectiveness.

The activity, sometimes seen as instinctive, is generally unnecessary towards accomplishing the goals of the organization, but helpful to protect a particular individual’s career within it, and it can be seen as a type of institutional corruption working against individual initiative. In a slightly different sense, it can be used to describe rightful steps to protect oneself properly while in a difficult situation, such as what steps to take to protect oneself after being fired (due diligence).

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