NASA modified the New Frontiers AO today to request that each proposal team provide 90 copies of their New Frontiers proposal, due in less than three weeks.
90 copies x 10 proposal teams x 250 pages each = 225,000 pieces of paper.
Now, government agencies almost always lag behind popular culture, but as researchers increasingly join twitter, facebook, and online consortia in ever greater numbers, I find it surprising that government officials and reviewers still require hard copies of such large documents.
Yes, I know the arguments. Reviewers like to highlight. It’s quicker to thumb through printed proposals on the fly at plenaries. Specialists can be given only portions of proposals. ITAR sensitive portions can be ripped out of foreign reviewers’ copies.
But really … all of this can be done with editable .pdfs as well, at much less cost, in much less time (after a little practice, true), and without so much … waste. After all, proposers ALSO have to provide 90 CDs for review, each one attached to the corresponding hunk of paper.
I doubt that the next generation of proposers will stand for this.