This paper explores the discretion issue of social workers as street-level bu-reaucrats and situated agents. From the analysis of the interviews, administered in public services of a metropolitan area of Northern Italy, the lack of resources has emerged as a dilemma for social workers, as well as the prime mover of their coping strategies, and rationing. Social workers identify as citizen-agents, responsible users of discretion to help citizen users. This narrative seems to be in contrast with a widespread policy alienation, and with the renunciation of the full exercise of agency, in terms of voice and political advocacy. These aspects call for a reflection on their being policy makers.