Years ago I was working with a group of guys who, one day, quadrupled the standard production. (We were initializing magnetic tapes for mainframe computers). We just got into a mood like in 'Cool Hand Luke'. We staggered our breaks and lunch to keep things humming the entire day. When we reported the total to our boss he replied, 'So. You only did a quarter of that yesterday'. That was close to 40 years ago and I still remember the look of dismissal on his face.
Scott, you have hit the nail on the head as far as government (and probably any large entity) goes.
Most of my life I've worked for small companies where I either reported to or could easily talk to the owner(s) who made the final decisions. I was appreciated and rewarded for innovation and showing ways to save work/money.
Now I work for a government entity, and have learned that the smart move is to keep your head down, mouth shut and don't do anything to "rock the boat." I learned that the hard way. The reason government is so inefficient is that there is *NO* upside for managers, even for the maverick who dares change and manages to double output -- that sort of thing does NOT really get you promoted or rewarded in government. On the other hand, there is a *LOT* of downside for anyone who dares to innovate, should the slightest thing go wrong. So why should any manager risk it?
The ones who do get ahead are generally, bland, gray !$%*!$%*!$% who are clones of the existing management and/or special members of the "good ol' boys & girls club."
This is Apple's problem in a nutshell, a management culture that focuses most employees on staying out of trouble. It is hard to develop leaders and true risk taking in an atmosphere like that. If you don't believe see if you can find any Apple employees willing to talk about the situation.