Thursday, May 26, 2005

ROSES drive you mad

Each year NASA does an "omnibus solicitation" announcement called ROSES
It lists all the "normal" Requests for Proposals for the financial year. In order of NOI (notice of intent) and proposal due date - note it does not include RfPs administered by contract centers, so, for example, HST, Spitzer and Chandra proposals are generally listed separately by their administering centers (STSCI, SSC and CSC).

NASA has now gone to electronic submission, in the style of the NSF Fastlane system, the NASA system is NSPIRES and actually looks pretty good, except it is not up yet fully. So right now proposals have to be done in hardcopy, AND the electronic form has to be submitted, EXCEPT for the actual proposal, AND we have to take the electronic "cover page" - which is now 17 pages (used to be 4 pages) - AND we have to print it out and submit the electronic cover page in hardcopy. 15 copies plus the original.
That's 1000 or so pages per proposal. That is a lot of trees.

The only thing that saves us right now is that I think this weeks proposals are so messed up that a lot of people may not succeed in submitting (I'm done! Phbrt!). The current count is way below normal, given that the drop-dead deadline is tomorrow. So maybe the success rate in this round will be over 10% instead of the 7-8% is was headed for. We wish.

Oh, and the Feds have announced that by 2008 all agencies must transit to "" which I am informed is a Micro$oft based data management system; so both NSPIRES and Fastlane (which are actually working) will be trashed. The system appears in trial runs to roughly double the workload for University submissions, since the process requires researchers submit to their local Research Offices, who then submit the proposals on their behalf, all the bits, at the same time. This will have some "teething problems" I suspect, and involve a lot of short tempered faculty standing over the shoulders of administrative staff on various due dates.

So, how long has this been going on? We worked it over at coffee this morning:

3RiversResearch Call for Proposals:

We will be transtiting to the new papyrus proposal system after the rainy season;
through year 7 of the reign of Gilgamesh we will be accepting scrolls, but then we will transit to the new all city MicroMud uniform triangular papyrii applications
right now you must still submit the proposal on clay tablets, in triplicate + original
remember that you must allow for the clay to dry before delivery, last minute submissions are not prudent. It may rain, even in dry season.
you may not use city issue grain or beer to pay for the clay porters, it must come from internal funds only
each clay tablet submission must include a cedar wood carved cover, until we transit to the papyrus scrolls
you must cut down your own cedars, but only after a city official identifies and sells you a tree cleared for clearing
to make a carved cedar tablet, you must first create a papyrus copy, submit that, and get it certified and returned so you can arrange for carving. We are NOT accepting the papyrus scrolls yet, but you will return the scroll to us with the carved cedar cover
we need 3+1 covers, with original (not copy) signatures on each, the signatures will then be transferred to clay for our records department and kept on file
please remind external collaborators that we need confirmation letters with signature; we will accept clay or pressed seal signatures, but not carved wood or bone; we can not handle stone inscriptions from lands across the river; and no papyrus copies in this round, we expect to have the system up next year when the scroll storage racks are built. The contractors are confident they will have the new triangular storage bin design working by the deadline for transiting to the new system, they did the army records contract and have experience in large database construction; they are currently working on the new tax law records system.

We remind all proposers that employment of army veterans is looked upon favourably be review panels. Please inform your subcontractors that army pay arrears are expected to be cleared up when the revenue stream is reconfigured; current target date is your 9 of r.o.G. Long may he live.


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