One of the reasons the savings and loan industry is in such a mess is that federal overseers paid too little attention to what owners and operators of thrifts were doing with depositors' money.

Now the Bush administration and federal banking regulators are struggling to find ways to stem further collapse of S&Ls and to finance the bail-out of depositors in those that are going under.It turns out that one of the persons hired by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. to help in the rescue effort was himself under investigation for his dealings as a former commercial loan officer of a failed Texas thrift. The feeble explanation was that the federal agency is so swamped with work that it lacked time to check out the backgrounds of the hundreds of temporary people it is hiring for the clean-up effort.

Can't the bureaucracy do anything right?