bureaucratic cracks...began grinding forward...

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Senior Member
Hi all,

Here is a paragraph of the article--U.S. Icebreaker Fleet Is Overdue for an Upgrade, from SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.

Funding for icebreakers has “fallen between bureaucratic cracks” in past years, says public policy expert Sherri Goodman, a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a member of the Arctic Task Force at the Council on Foreign Relations. She says that the Coast Guard has shouldered the burden of building new vessels while government defense spending increases have gone elsewhere. But the icebreaker-acquisition program began grinding forward during the Obama administration and has requested a major funding boost in the fiscal year 2017 budget.

I don't know what the "bureaucratic cracks" are, and what does the "began grinding forward" mean. Could you please explain them for me?
  • Barque

    I don't know what the "bureaucratic cracks" are,
    It means that approval for funding has been stalled by bureaucratic delays. Just like things can get lost if they fall into cracks, like a sheet of paper falling into a gap between a drawer and the back of a desk for instance, the issue of funding for icebreakers has fallen into a bureaucratic "crack" (used figuratively) and has been forgotten.
    and what does the "began grinding forward" mean.
    That's a different question and needs a separate thread.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    There is a standard expression "fallen between the cracks" which means something has been forgotten accidentally, or it was lost but nobody notices it was lost. If someone has many things to do, they do most of them but some of them "fall between the cracks": they don't get done, but the person doesn't notice that he didn't do them.

    Here the word "bureaucratic" is added to indicate that it is the government that has accidentally forgotten to do this funding.


    Senior Member
    Thank you guys for the very detail explanation of "fallen between the cracks". It really helps.

    Sorry Barque, I didn't realize 'what does the "began grinding forward" mean' is a different question. I'll post a new thread then.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    it is the government that has accidentally forgotten to do this funding
    It's no so much accidental as that other things always seemed just a little bit more important to spend on money on at the time. Without someone with enough influence pushing for it to be done, it never got done. Everyone agreed it was important, but nobody assured that it got taken care of by moving it higher up the priority list.
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