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NASA Government

'Space Vikings' Spark (Unfounded) NASA Waste Inquiry 147

sciencehabit writes "For Ved Chirayath, a graduate student and amateur fashion photographer, a photo project that involved NASA researchers dressed as Vikings was just a creative way to promote space science. 'I started this project hoping maybe one day some kid will look at it and say, 'I want to work for NASA,' ' says Chirayath, a student at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who also works nearby at NASA's Ames Research Center. He never suspected that his fanciful image would put him in the crosshairs of a government waste investigation triggered by a senior U.S. senator." The project was funded by an outside art grant. The best part: the investigation into the non-existent waste probably cost more than the "waste" would have were it funded by NASA in the first place.
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'Space Vikings' Spark (Unfounded) NASA Waste Inquiry

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  • by PrimeNumber ( 136578 ) <PrimeNumber @ e x c i te.com> on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:16PM (#44393081) Homepage

    This money could be better used for banker bonuses like our bailout money was.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcadeX ( 866171 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:20PM (#44393121)

    The best part: the investigation into the non-existent waste probably cost more than the "waste" would have were it funded by NASA in the first place.

    What kind of logic is that? Does the OP have knowledge of the future?

    Doesn't have to, you can look at previous investigations and extrapolate. You'd be suprised how much 'simple' paperwork cost the government where investigations are involved. I used to be a Government contractor, seeing my taxes wasted first hand made each paycheck withholding sting a little more.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:32PM (#44393261)

    When the vikings came to North America they didn't commit genocide... just sayin'...

  • by joe_frisch ( 1366229 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:36PM (#44393291)

    A little fun can boost moral and increase efficiency far more than the loss of time. You will notice that most companies with knowledge workers take time for parties, outings etc.

    The real waste in large organizations isn't from spending on photos, silly movies, or conferences in nice locations. The big waste is from spending on unneeded projects, or in starting large projects that are then canceled.

  • Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:37PM (#44393303)

    Claiming that the waste investigation costs more than the loss from the waste is meaningless. In order to see if the cost is worth it, you can't compare the waste that was caught to the cost of the investigation. You have to compare the waste that there would be without any investigation, to the cost of the investigation. As investigation discourages waste, the latter number is larger than the former number.

  • In light of IRS... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alta ( 1263 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:38PM (#44393317) Homepage Journal

    In light of the IRS making Star Trek training videos I really don't see any problem with digging into all Government entities searching for waste. Glad they didn't find it here, but I'm also glad the checked.

  • by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:40PM (#44393331)
    I think they are just checking that NASA isn't wasnting money like the IRS did. The IRS used govemerment funds to create Star Trek videos with upper managment in them.
  • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:09PM (#44393611) Homepage Journal

    > Claiming that the waste investigation costs more
    > than the loss from the waste is meaningless.

    Sometimes, but not in this case. The first question should have been "What?!? Space vikings?!? Who paid for this crap? ... Oh, not us? OK then." The "investigation" should have been 1 or 2 phone calls.

    Rule #1: Verify that your premise and assumptions are correct before proceeding. If you go into something thinking "This seems like a waste of tax dollars!", your first questions MUST be "Was it paid for with tax dollars?" To not do so is... wasteful.

  • by QuantumLeaper ( 607189 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:31PM (#44393819) Journal
    I know what you mean, I guessed it was a Republican who was complaining about waste. The only time Republicans complain about waste is when a Democrat has the Office of President, otherwise they are the largest wasters if money around.
  • by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:38PM (#44393911)

    They are waste. They are basically ways to buy votes. Bills should be voted on for their merits, not because if you vote "yes" you'll get a bridge in your district.

    It really depends then on what bill the earmark is attached too. There is generally a big omnibuss spending bill. Earmarks on it are just about deciding what bridges should be built. Earmarks on federal law, wars, supreme court justices are unethical.

  • by Guru80 ( 1579277 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:58PM (#44394207)
    Except for the issue of costs. Those hours spent contacting everyone, filling out paperwork and digging around for ways to fire someone cost far more than a few photos in costumes paid for by an art grant earmarked specifically for this kind of thing. It really could have been as simple as 3 phone calls.

    Call 1: Head of the department the participants work in - "Nope, wasn't during scheduled meeting times, cost us none of our money and I'm a freakin space viking! One guy made us sound cooler than anything you guys have done since the moon missions".

    Call 2: Photographer - "No, I didn't interfere with their work and it cost you nothing. I have a grant to make NASA look awesome and sound freakin badass! Space Vikings! Just in case here is the number to verify freakin vikings in freakin space money"

    Call 3: Grant people - "Yes we gave photographer a grant to take pictures of space vikings, glad to see you aren't living up to your reputation as one of the biggest wasters in congress with your sensible approach to verifying the facts and not ordering a full blown investigation into the space viking thing".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:03PM (#44394265)

    They paid for the video facilities to make internal videos for years to come. In training the staff to use the equipment that was purchased for training videos, they chose to do something that isn't as dry as teaching the tax code.

    The programming equivalent is complaining how much that 'hello world' program cost to make because it requires a 1 grand computer to make.

  • by TheNastyInThePasty ( 2382648 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:14PM (#44394345)
    Let's see. They could be making internal training videos, saving money on training new hires or adjusting old workers to new rules. They could be making public instructional videos, saving money by reducing the number of mistakes made by the public. They could be making any number of different videos that could more than pay for the paultry $60,000 cost of the facility.
  • Training videos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:00PM (#44394831) Homepage Journal

    This reminds me of the CDC's Zombie preparedness memo.

    Some people bitched about the 'waste of funds' and such. The CDC pointed out that from their metrics it was viewed OVER 100X as much as their normal releases, for approximately equal preparation cost. Plus, well, if you're prepared for zombies, you're prepared about as well as you can be for many natural and unnatural disasters. The advice in the release was still standard disease/disaster prep stuff.

You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. - Al Capone