A bureaucracy is an organization made up of many departments and divisions that are administered by lots of people. If you've ever had to deal with health insurance or financial aid, you're familiar with the dark side of bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy has a bad reputation because it has come to mean an organization or government that is chin-deep in red tape and unnecessary procedures. When dealing with a bureaucracy, expect to fill out lots of forms and wait. Bureaucracies are mocked in the hilarious film "Brazil," where people have mind-numbing jobs they do while sitting at desks. Bureaucracy is an organization administered by people behind desks, or bureaus. Bureaus, get it?