Monday, August 13, 2007


From a Post article today:

In 2003, the FBI used a $25 million grant to give bomb squads across the nation state-of-the-art computer kits, enabling them to instantly share information about suspected explosives, including weapons of mass destruction.

Four years later, half of the Washington area's squads can't communicate via the $12,000 kits, meant to be taken to the scene of potential catastrophes, because they didn't pick up the monthly wireless bills and maintenance costs initially paid by the FBI. Other squads across the country also have given up using them.

Given my tendency to generalize, I'd say there's a general rule at work here--called NIH, or "not invented here". This sounds as if it was a great idea, at least in 2003. But you give a kit to someone, it may not be used. That's particularly true if suspected WMD's don't show up very often. (I'd guess there's a strong correlation between the number of suspicious packages discovered in an area and whether the jurisdiction paid the maintenance/upgrade costs.) It's one reason for cost-sharing as a governmental/bureaucratic strategy--if someone gets excited enough about an idea to kick in some of their own money, they may stay excited enough to maintain the idea over the long run.

NIH is a problem with foreign aid, domestic aid, and probably children ("probably" since I don't have any). I remember playing more with stuff that I could create games (mostly war games) with than with the fancier toys I got. I wonder whether NIH is also more of a male thing?

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