Tuesday, 16 April 2013

My Neighborhood

Across the river, into DC....you occasionally come across some nifty methods of corruption.  So today, there's a fascinating item.

The Mayor of DC....has this concept that he's been tossing around, and finally got a budget for it.  The city, with all it's ills of kids just not graduating....is going to spend around $1.5 million on a space station simulator for the DC public school system.  It has all these almost realistic space station consoles, wiz-bang communications equipment, and some control room equipment to look real 'spacey'.

Kids would enter into this space station....take directions from their science teacher....and accomplish some actions over a tour-hour period...with a few experiments along the way.

How does this work?

Well....you start by finding a fancy consulting company that offers to provide the hardware, the software, and the teacher's manuals.  There's no bidding process, so basically....whatever they say....is the magic number you pay.  Interestingly enough....it's a nice round $1.5 million.  It's hard to imagine how evenly this comes out.

A smart consultant will ensure numbers look good, but there's enough built into the estimate and delivery....that someone within the city structure will walk away with some cash.  I can't imagine the amount in this case, but it wouldn't shock me if several folks on the city council got $5k each to nod on approval, and the mayor probably did most of the talking and probably got double or triple that amount.

The neat thing about this....there's always add-on's.  You get some more updated software.  There's an update to the kid's manuals.  Then there's an update to the experiments.  So the $1.5 million will flip over in two years and another $750k will be necessary for consultant fees and costs.  Fee's off that?  Yeah, there will be another cut of money for someone else in the government later.

It's interesting how so many kids graduated from school in the 1970s and 1980s....without any fancy science gear and went on to pretty productive lives.  The odds of any DC kid being a NASA engineer later in life?  Maybe two kids of twenty thousand, that's my humble guess.  But it's a great way to flush $1.5 million.

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