Everyone knows that if you call up your local trash collection company with a great idea they will
laugh at you so no one calls. In fact when it is as easy to understand as trash collection no one
really thinks they have a great, new idea that will gain instant rewards.
But when it comes to the government somehow what is obvious for trash collection or dog catching
does not register. If it now registers to you do not waste time reading further.
The government does not sit around waiting for people with ideas to walk in the door. The
government has plans for what it wants to accomplish. There are mission statements, long term goals
and rather specific five year plans as well as budgets for the next fiscal year.
When the government wants ideas it will ask for them. (Like your boss, when he wants your opinion
he will beat it out of you.) It is called a Request for Proposal, an RFP. If you read one you will
find it is so narrowly defined that it is asking for a better version of what has gone before. To
deal with these you need to be in the business and know more than I can say in an article of a few
hundred thousands words.
No gov agency I am aware of has anyone sitting around waiting for great new ideas to come in the
door. The closest is like ARPA (called DARPA by those outside the gov) the Advanced Research
Projects Agency. But even there the objective for a new project is defined before looking for ideas.
Bottom line is those outside the gov do not define the new ideas.
But they do happen occasionally. In every case I have seen the inventor, for lack of a better word,
has to have a bang up demonstration largely on his own nickel. Take for example the recent
demonstration of a barrel that can fire multiple bullets resulting in thousands of rounds per second
if enough barrels are clustered. Another case I was involved with but cannot talk about when from a
prototype field test to operational in one year which would have been remarkable in WWII because the
contracter had that good of an idea.
But all I did was provide the test range, the test ship and the raw data collection. That may sound
like a lot but it was part of other tests so this was just a few additional hours for each part. It
was a designed for minimum cost to my budget and well minimized if I do say so. The contractor paid
for all the hardware development, installation and operators. The point being the contractor must
have spent between 10 and 20 times more than I did.
Why the digression? Because this is the only such case I know of during
my 20 years with the gov.
Is the gov totally stuffy and adverse to new ideas? Is your local trash collector? Your local trash
collector does not have a separate staff working out the future of trash collection as does the
There is no trash-industrial complex but, love it or hate it, there is a military industrial
complex and NASA was created by assigning DOD personnel to the new agency. There is a NASA
Despite your politics it is in fact people working towards the same goals on different sides of the
fence. For the folks in the trenches they are just doing their jobs and if there are machinations at
the top that had no bearing on a paycheck to either party. In DOD it varies. Dealing with the Air
Force it is entirely arm's length adversarial. Dealing the with the Navy, they make you smell the
salt air and subvert employee loyalty away from the company. I do not know the NASA approach.
In all cases it is a mutual goal with the only disagreements on how to
Is there a grocery store / agricultural complex? Damned right there is. It is conspiring to make
Now that we know the US pays for good news stories in Iraq neither
we nor the Iraqis can ever trust any good news story from Iraq.
-- The Iron Webmaster, 3553
environmentalism http://www.giwersworld.org/environment/aehb.phtml a9