When citizens want to change a rule, the matter is sent to a committee for study, although when this does happen "the people always (joke) about it". The bureaucracy of the community is such that it seems "the committee members would become Elders by the time the rule change (is) made"; more often than not, the committee "would simply fret and argue about (the issue)...for years, until the citizens forgot that it had ever gone to them for study".
The inefficiency of the committee system masks the fact that, in reality, the people have little say in what happens in the society. Individuals may believe that their desires and opinions are important because they do seem to have an avenue by which they can have their opinions heard and considered, but in practice, that avenue is useless - it almost always leads to a dead end. It would appear that the committee system exists mainly to palliate the people, to make them feel that they have some control in the workings of their government and in determining the course of their lives. Practically speaking, however, it is clear that the society is run by a totalitarian power, and that what the people may want is of little consequence (Chapter 2).
It is a long process to change a rule in the community. First, a change to the existing law is proposed. Next, a committee analyzes the information about the rule change. It is indicated that the process that the committee goes through is a long one:
They said that the committee members would become Elders by the time the rule change was made (The Giver, Chapter 2).
If the rule is an unimportant one, the committee eventually decides on a change. If it is an important rule that will have a large impact on the community, the Receiver then analyzes the request. Of all the Elders, the Receiver is the most important one. He has much more knowledge and wisdom than the other Elders.
Even for less important rules, the committee can spend years studying, discussing, and a making decision. Sometimes it takes so long that everyone forgets that a change had even been requested.
The long, multi-step process is the reason why it takes so long. This stems from the reality of life in the community: the society is closely controlled and regulated. Rules are intentionally made to maintain this order. No one is allowed to stray from the regulations put in place by Elders and committee members.