Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Drowning in paperwork

Over my time at ProdigalU, the paperwork load has definitely increased. Things are not yet as bad as they were at National Lab, but they are clearly headed in that direction. We have to fill out more forms with more information each year, but the number of administrators in the department has dropped. We are entering Catch-22 land with some of these recent examples:

  • We now have to include "original programs" from conferences to demonstrate that we actually presented something to get reimbursed. This, at a time when most conferences have switched to electronic only/require payment for programs. This is particularly a problem for students, who don't have the money to cover their credit card bills on top of the time to waste on this merry-go-round with administration.
  • We also need to provide "original boarding passes" at a time when most people use their phones or print them out at home. I've taken to printing boarding passes from the self-check in booths, since these are never rejected. When I remember to do so. 
  • The number of people required to review expense reports (and the large number rejected for stupid things like the above) means that in its attempt to stop fraud, ProdigalU is paying out more than many requested reimbursements in salaries. This was also the case at National Lab.
  • We are having some orders rejected by the overseers for buying things like pens, notebooks, and tape, since those things are classified as stationary not research supplies. Because we don't need pens or notebooks in the lab or something.
When I first started, I had students tell me they didn't want to be academics because they didn't want to spend all day writing proposals. Now they tell me they don't want to be academics because they want to do science, not paperwork. Things are bad if even the students can see it.

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