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Top U.S. Scientific Misconduct Official Quits In Frustration With Bureaucracy 172

sandbagger writes "The director of the U.S. government office that monitors scientific misconduct in biomedical research has resigned after 2 years out of frustration with the 'remarkably dysfunctional' federal bureaucracy. Officials at the Office of Scientific Integrity spent 'exorbitant amounts of time' in meetings and generating data and reports to make their divisions look productive, David Wright writes. He huge amount of time he spent trying to get things done made much of his time at ORI 'the very worst job I have ever had.'"
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Top U.S. Scientific Misconduct Official Quits In Frustration With Bureaucracy

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  • by luckytroll ( 68214 ) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @10:22AM (#46473019) Homepage

    I spent a lost year of my life working for a similar agency. The systematic fear and redundant covering of asses made for endless meetings.

    The only thing worse than busywork is busywork with a profound sense of importance attached to it.

  • Feynman (Score:5, Informative)

    by scottnix ( 951749 ) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @10:25AM (#46473051)

    This reminds me of what Richard Feynman went through while investigating the Shuttle Discovery disaster.
    They made a movie about it: []

  • by Captain Hook ( 923766 ) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:19AM (#46473545)
    Office of Research Integrity
  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:39AM (#46473743)

    I spent a few years as a public servant before doing what I do now. It was, to say the least, an eye opening experience. If you want to learn exactly how NOT to run a business go work for the government for a while.

    The procurement system is completely whacked. Everyone seems to know it but nobody wants to do anything to fix it. Democrats and Republicans alike have both had ample opportunity to fix it and both have shied away from it.

    It is nearly impossible to fire an incompetent federal employee. The best management can do is put the person in a crummy job and hope they quit. Likewise, management is forbidden from giving bonuses to top performing employees. It doesn't take long before people realize that they get paid the same whether they put in an honest days work or sit there with their feet up on the desk.

    Efficiency in government is punished, not rewarded. If you find a way to save money your reward is a reduced budget for next year. No raise, no promotion, no bonus, no thanks. So you end up with year end spending sprees to ensure that you spend every penny allocated to your department.

    It's very difficult to measure success in government. If you are selling a product you can say we sold X last year and this year we sold X+2. Therefore, this year was better than last. In public service how do you measure it? We had fewer complaints this year than last?

    It seemed to me that if you worked in government you had one of two choices. You could either suck it up and wait for your pension or leave and do something else. I chose to leave. I did find a lot of good, hard working people in government. I also found a lot of lazy, good for nothing doorstops. Such is life.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:58AM (#46473921)

    He huge amount of time he spent trying to get things done made much of his time at ORI 'the very worst job I have ever had'.

    Have people stopped reading the last sentence of the typically summary altogether with the part of the brain that doesn't type?

    On a not-so-tangential side note, it would be nice in the eagerly awaited Beta Redux to be able to click preview prior to furnishing the subject line, and actually get the preview to go along with the lecture. Just about every time this happens to me I want to paste "cat got your tongue" into the subject line until I've actually seen the damn preview I requested, at which point I'm far less than entirely motivated to go back and remove the shim.

    It's like childhood. You ask a question. Someone corrects how you presented the question. The question itself never gets answered. If the question can't be properly understood, it needs to be addressed before diving off into an answer. If it's just a matter of persnicketty dress code, probably the answer needs to come first if you're raising a young scientist rather than a young bureauocrat.

    However, one must make an exception to this basis rule in extreme cases of shifting the burden: when someone publishes something for thousands to read, and every damn reader has to read the final sentence three times because you've changed "The" into "He"—a hundred times worse than the natural error "he"—which is enough to turn us all into syntactic Cylons.

    FFS whoever submitted that, get your mental back-light fixed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:58PM (#46474523)

    I know of a large telecom operator that's been offering virtual datacenter services to its (also large) enterprise customers. There's this rumor that it takes the tech guy around 5 to 15 minutes to create a virtual machine for a customer...which is always preceded by 20 days of paperwork and approvals.


I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik