It's pretty clear by now that my services won't be needed as a BTOP reviewer so I think I'll bookend this little mini-blog with a final post and call it quits. This has been a weird ride so I thought I'd conclude with a few observations.
I hope the Obama Administration learned a lot from this cluster-fuck and don't repeat their mistakes the next time around. Here are some things to avoid and lessons learned (not that they're going to listen to me, after all they haven't communicated with me at all up 'til now so why should things change?).
- Don't use volunteer reviewers in the future. Period. I've gotten scuttlebutt that BTOP switched over to contracted reviewers, maybe from Booz Allen, in mid-stream and I think that's a great idea. Using volunteers was a bad idea for several reasons. How on earth are you going to assure quality? What about impartiality and conflict of interest? How are you going to manage the 1000+ people you need, but don't know and haven't vetted?
- For cripes sake do some planning. This mess was easy to see coming. The next round will have the same logistical problems unless they get ahead of the game.
- Live by the "transparency" credo. The Obama Administration talks a lot about open/transparent processes. This one wasn't. Reviewers were confronted with a lot of "non-public" information that didn't need to be non-public. It got ridiculous after a while. They treated the training materials as non-public!
- Don't use Mushroom Management the next time. You know about Mushroom Management? Mushroom Management is "keep 'em in the dark and feed them bullshit" whether you're growing mushrooms or managing processes. This was a classic case. Why couldn't they send the occasional email to volunteers letting them know what's up? Hell, if you don't want me that's fine. But send me a freekin' email telling me, don't just sit there silent and paralyzed in your Washington DC ivory tower.
- Treat the other reviewers better. My state, Minnesota, got sucked into a PR disaster when the BTOP folks suddenly punted all the applications --un-ranked, un-reviewed -- to the State and told the State folks they had to rank them in a super-short period of time. The State folks were expecting reviewed applications, they got an un-reviewed pile. So instead of having applications that had been vetted in depth by experts, they got this pile that they had to wade through on their own with virtually no assistance or guidance from BTOP. There's a rumpus now because the State fell back on the rules that they apply to RFPs and kept their recommendations and process private until the grants are awarded. People have been on me to raise my voice on that one -- but I'm on the State's side at this point. This is BTOP's cluster-fuck not Minnesota's, you handed my state's people a steaming pile of crap and let them take the PR hit. I talked to a friend at a carrier who's dealing with the same kind of problem.
I could go on, but you get the drift. Did I mention cluster-fuck? Oh, I did? Several times? Good. This one is fucked up by the numbers. I sure hope they do better the next time.