Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Eli's Government At Work

Eli was driving today listening to CSPAN radio when he heard something that almost made him cough up his teeth (Eli is an old bunny).  It was at a hearing on medical innovation of the US Senate Education Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander who was questioning Francis Collins, head of the NIH, when this occurred.

Collins wins the support of every scientist and engineer in the US government who has had to endure endless paperwork justifying trips to the bathroom, and oh yes, grant agency panel members who can't even get a donut and coffee at meetings.  Drug Monkey sends love.


Pinko Punko said...


Russell Seitz said...

If your grant panel meets to Vegas , the donut buffet is free as long as the statisticians play the slots.

Dano said...

Good on him.



Fernando Leanme said...

I have found a really neat way to get around this problem. You must sign up with a powerful fossil fuel corporation to write crap about global warming. The up front funding will come through a grant to your college or institution, but you can also get a platinum FEDEX with a $25 thousand limit you can use to book first class travel. They will also give you a special 1800 number you can call to order food, including special pizzas, and a special code you can use on the web to order free tickets to your favorite professional sports team events. The only requirement is that you write a lot of papers, and to mention once in a while that climate models don´t do very well when compared to real data.

Mitch said...

There is much more to the oversight mess--introduced in the W years. One of the reasons that the admin in most universities use to justify increased numbers is the much increased oversight requirement from the 90's. I believe them. We could save a lot of university money by getting a little more rational.

Thon Taddeo said...

Up until recently, I worked for a Canadian government research organization.

When I left, it had reached the point where travel had to be approved at multiple levels up to a very senior level in the department. This involved considerable paperwork and there were definitely cases where approvals were denied. In other cases, the approvals came too late to make economical travel arrangements. This was necessary even for relatively local trips that could be completed in a single day at little expense. Participation in scientific or technical conferences received particular scrutiny.

Then there was the publication process. - getting approvals for open literature publication was painful and time consuming. I'm sure the university researchers who we persuaded to collaborate with us had second thoughts about the situation they found themselves in.

And don't get me started on procurement.

I suspect that things were even worse in organizations involved in politically sensitive research.

Aaron said...

I always found that I could get hours of "free" work out of a group for the price of a few (good) doughnuts and some coffee. For the price of a few (good) pizzas, a committee will slave through the night and get it done -- thereby eliminating the need for another meeting with air fare, hotel and everything.

Bean counters are often penny wise and pound foolish.

Russell Seitz said...

Dimensional analysis quiz;

How many coffee beans will a penny buy ?

How many pots of coffee can be brewed from a bean counter's weight in coffee beans , assuming that the weights of strong and weak bean counter's weight will respectively produce strong and weak coffee?