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December 12th, 2009

Friday federal funding facts

Published on December 12th, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

The DOE has paid out only 8% of its Recovery Act funds:

And, the National Science Foundation has paid out only 4% of its Recovery Act funds:

At least one commentator (see here) thinks my expectations are flawed about the speed of the funding from DOE and NSF. I continue to disagree.

First, my expectations are that, since these are not normal times, everyone in the various buy/sell/hire/approve chains better be working damn hard to expedite every step of the process. Old timelines should not be the standard for measurement.

Second, the commentator’s example is silly and empirical at best. If what you are saying is that the real problem is the bottlenecks with getting orders filled, then you aren’t talking to many people in the business of supplying this equipment. The ones we talk to, daily and weekly, are hurting and waiting for the orders to come in. Many businesses have already failed or had to sell out for bargain basement prices. Others are teetering on theĀ  brink.

Third, what has to go on in the buy/sell/hire/approve chain in DOE is not significantly different than what happens in federal agencies. Yes, proposals have to be reviewed. Yes, equipment has to be ordered, built and received, blah, blay blah. But – somehow – nearly every other major federal agency has been able to pay out 20%+ of their recovery monies, some are nearing 90% payouts, and yet the DOE and NSF are stuck at less than 10%. HHS, for example, has $57billion available and has paid out $41 billion. HUD has $11 billion and paid out $2 billion. Education had $69 billion and paid out $22 billion.

Spend some time looking poking around recovery.gov and you can’t help get a sense that something is really gumming up the works at DOE and NSF.


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