Friday, April 11, 2008

Your tax dollars at work.

Like many of my colleagues, I review lots of grant proposals. Recently I was asked to review one for the Department of Energy, and when I said 'yes', they sent me the proposal. By Federal Express. On a CD. Now, you might wonder why, if they don't mind me ending up with this in an electronic format anyway, and if they want me to send in my review electronically, they wouldn't just handle this purely over the web, and save the money and environmental impact of shipping a CD from northern VA to Houston. Ahh well.

6 comments:

Schlupp said...

Probably, rule 376549 c /II A5 explicitly states that you have to get the proposal in this way. Granted, that's probably just because the internet wasn't there when they wrote down rule 376549 c /II A5, but well.

okham said...

Yeah but, the real question is: will the only take a MS-Word formatted review ? :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey, I get a FedEx'ed CD from NoVA to DC! It doesn't cost as much as you think, though--if the rest of the Fed Gov has the same deal as the DoD, there is a contract with Fed Ex, so it costs the same or less than USPS for much more reliable service.

David said...

Depending on the cost of a DOE program manager's time, FedExing the CD could easily have been the most cost effective means of getting you the proposal.

For example, say a program manager costs roughly $200/hr fully burdened. In that case, the cost of a pre-paid FedEx mailer is worth about 3 minutes of the program manager's time.

Fiddling with files can be very time consuming. Frankly, I would not not be surprised if FedExing the CD resulted in considerable savings of tax dollars.

Doug Natelson said...

David - Someone still had to prepare the files in electronic format and then burn them to a CD. They then sealed that CD inside a padded mailer, and sealed that inside a Fed Ex shipping envelope. Surely it would have saved money, time, and the environment if they'd just emailed me the file that they had to prepare anyway. As far as I can tell, this was a gratuitous waste of (someone's) time, resources, and energy. I'm hardly a radical environmentalist, but this bothered me in the same way that individually wrapped M&M candies would bother me.

Kent said...

Security issue, or just a brain fart.