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Why Are the Best and Brightest Not Flooding DARPA?

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the getting-paid-in-the-private-sector dept.

The Military 597

David W. White writes "Wired mag's Danger Room carried an article today that highlighted how desperate the US Military's DARPA has become in its attempts to bring in additional brain power. The tactics include filmed testimonials, folders and even playing cards all screaming join DARPA! Where are all the Einsteins who want to be on the cutting edge for the Government?"

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Sperm Ghost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23847861)

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Re:Sperm Ghost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23847909)

some first posters live in different timezones, you insensitive clod!

Umm, because .... (0, Flamebait)

taniwha (70410) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847875)

maybe smart geeks are, well, not stupid, and don't want to get sent of to die in some other country?

Re:Umm, because .... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848027)

We are all getting paid much better in the private sector.

Bullshit. The Jobs and Morals were Exported. (3, Insightful)

Odder (1288958) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848075)

Blame Bush and 30 years of "Free Trade".

Like the MITer said, few people want to help with a war of aggression, torture and wiretap. The Bush administration has killed close to a million innocent people in Iraq, directly and by infrastructure damage. People die quickly when they don't have clean water, and few have that without the electric utilities and distribution network we bombed out but never rebuilt. All for control of oil.

We are also starting to run out of qualified young people because all of the engineering jobs have been sent to China and India. If you don't make things, you don't know things and the US has been making less and less over the last 30 years.

Trade with China and wars of aggression have a common cause: moral bankruptcy. The result is ruin.

Re:Bullshit. The Jobs and Morals were Exported. (-1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848155)

Who wants to be top egghead in the next has-been, banana republic?

Seriously - it took about 15 years for the US to hurtle over the edge of the black abyss that previously, the USSR plunged into.

Patting their wise-ass selves on the back, all the way down!

Not all the way there yet. (0, Troll)

Odder (1288958) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848429)

The US has yet to purge potential opposition the way the USSR did so many times. Everything is in place but we have yet to go beyond economic assassination. Mass murder starts when the press is really beat down. We are very close, so watch out. After mass murder comes wars of conquest that will make Iraq and Iran look like Italy's North African wars.

Re:Bullshit. The Jobs and Morals were Exported. (1)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848463)

Who wants to be top egghead in the next has-been, banana republic?

ZOMG!! We are growing banannas now?? The Bananna species will be saved!!

wait!!!

ZOMG!1!!one!!! We are a Republic now??? Long live the death of Facism!!!!

Re:Bullshit. The Jobs and Morals were Exported. (3, Interesting)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848247)

We are also starting to run out of qualified young people because all of the engineering jobs have been sent to China and India.

Well your post is offtopic and insulting to boot, but it would seem to me that the jobs are here in the US. Except of course that most of them are Indian and Chinese employed by IBM and companies like that.

Trade with China and wars of aggression have a common cause

No, not really. I'd agree with the wars part, but the trade thing is certainly false. Why do you hate China so much? Any particular reason? You keep going on and on about this and I still don't understand it.

moral bankruptcy

That's rich, coming from the guy who has to pretend he's eleven [slashdot.org] different people.

Re:Bullshit. The Jobs and Morals were Exported. (1)

phunster (701222) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848383)



The jobs are in ther US?

https://jobs3.netmedia1.com/cp/search.jsp?tc=1213836613622 [netmedia1.com]

That's the URL for IBM job postings, go there and you will see that for the most part IBM is hiring everywhere but in the US. Then please come back here and apologize to us for that utterly uniformed statement.

Re:Bullshit. The Jobs and Morals were Exported. (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848483)

Well, a lot of them are. Otherwise the people I see when I look around me at the office must be... Guatemalan? And where do you think the vast majority of these people hired in other countries end up working at? Chile?

I never said that the positions were being occupied by Americans, just that a large percentage of those jobs is indeed in the U.S. Doesn't make it any better, obviously.

Re:Bullshit. The Jobs and Morals were Exported. (0, Flamebait)

deadzero (1306187) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848459)

Ah yes, we know how little you care about people in China, dedazo. Follow my sig.

Re:Umm, because .... (5, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848029)

maybe smart geeks are, well, not stupid, and don't want to get sent of to die in some other country?

Playing along with the "other country" theme, if you step into a graduate engineering department, you're likely to find a majority of non U.S. citizens comprising the graduate student workforce. These people are also ineligible for most U.S. Govt. fellowships and jobs that require a decent level of security clearance. Thus, DARPA might be having a tough time recruiting top-notch talent because most of the talent is ineligible to work for DARPA.

Naw (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848355)

I'd rather live in a cardboard box than help Bush kill brown people.

Re:Umm, because .... (3, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848163)

"maybe smart geeks are, well, not stupid, and don't want to get sent of to die in some other country?"

In what alternate universe does DARPA deploy?

OTOH, your troll post may just be proof-testing of the DARPA "exploding clue" project.

Re:Umm, because .... (5, Funny)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848181)

Yeah because DARPA is a part of the infrantry.

Well... (5, Insightful)

Aussenseiter (1241842) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847877)

I assume they're worried that they'll be the tragic victims of mysterious heart attacks.

Re:Well... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848265)

omg it's kira!!!

Good Question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23847901)

The short answer... Visit there website. There are not positions available.

Umm... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23847905)

intelligent and well educated people don't want to work for an organization that supports torture and oppression?

Even ignoring the hyperbole, maybe they don't want to work for a group who's expressed purpose is to kill people.

Re:Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848467)

I want to work for them but can't. Torture is not fundamental to the operation of our government. They may feel it is currently but I have high hopes for them changing their minds in the future. Unfortunately I have a handicap that artificially restricts me from entering even though I am physically and mentally capable of doing everything needed.

Running away... (0)

pieterh (196118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847915)

... as fast as they can from a life working for the state?

Maybe working on the coolest free software project somewhere?

Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (1, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847917)

Do you want to have "worked for DARPA" on your CV? No company with half an active braincell in its CTO will want you, not knowing whether you've really "quitted".

Twice so if you ever plan to work outside of the US.

Re:Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23847971)

Wouldn't that apply to every other company?

Can Microsoft really trust that former Apple employee? Etc.

Re:Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847979)

It's DARPA. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. They do research. They don't do spying. The spooks all work for CIA, DIA (that's Defense Intelligence Agency), and NSA. And probably a few organizations we don't know about. But DARPA just ain't one of them.

Re:Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848073)

And probably a few organizations we don't know about
Ooh, ooh, NCIS! Weirdly saturated color balances and hot goth forensic scientists!

Re:Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (1, Informative)

Narpak (961733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848129)

I guess there is little stopping the CIA, DIA or NSA to recruit someone at DARPA to work for them covertly. But then again I suppose there is little stopping them from recruiting anyone in any position if they felt a need to do so (and it was a qualified candidate).

Re:Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (3, Insightful)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848461)

This government doesn't have a good name for honesty. Or trustworthiness. Or consideration. Or not cutting your benefits after they have you signed up. Or...

Turn it around. Why *expletive* would anyone want to work for it? Including DARPA.

Ignorance is the prime reason that I can think of. Tunnel vision & short sightedness comes a close second. But those aren't characteristics of the "best and the brightest".

Like the CIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848021)

I've seen a story of someone who worked for the CIA and when the interviewer asked her what she did for the CIA she responded that she couldn't say. The interviewer said "Thank you." and never called her back thinking she was full of shit. The same story is in some article about what not to do in an interview. I don't know. How do you handle that if you've done super double secret stuff for the Government and you want to go into private industry?

Re:Like the CIA (3, Funny)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848367)

maybe thatâ(TM)s what a reference letter is for?

To whom it may concern:

This person will be a valuable member to your team, they will do anything, ANYTHING, to get the job done

Sincerely, Unnamed Government Agency.

Re:Like the CIA (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848387)

Along about the time my brother was getting his MS degree, he was recruited by the CIA for 'junior specialist in 'xxxxxx'

Our dad (wwii pilot) talked him out of it, saying "well...you can be the absolute best in that field, but you'll never be able to tell anyone about it."

Re:Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848059)

That half a brain cell must be awesomely paranoid.

Re:Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (1)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848065)

No company with half an active braincell in its CTO will want you

For better or worse, I suspect the exact opposite is true. If you were half-way decent you would have all the security clearances, personal contacts, procurement knowledge, etc., that a lot of defense companies would pay dearly for.

Re:Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848305)

Of course, if you don't want to work for a defense company at all, you're SOL.

I did a couple of co-op terms (like an internship) at a defense contractor. Holy crap, what an inefficiently run company. I'd rather stick with non-defense companies as long as I can.

Re:Umm... because they want to work tomorrow, too? (1)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848465)

Holy crap, what an inefficiently run company.

It wasn't just that company. They are all pretty much the same. The people that last are the ones who can reconcile the fact that their real job is documenting and filling out forms describing what they can/will do with the few hours a week that aren't filling out forms and documenting.

Perhaps they have a conscience? (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847929)

While I've known many brilliant people involved in making stuff for the military, most intelligent people also seem to be anti-military.

I'm not saying that people are stupid to be pro-military, just that there seems to be some correlation.

Re:Perhaps they have a conscience? (4, Insightful)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848293)

"While I've known many brilliant people involved in making stuff for the military, most intelligent people also seem to be anti-military. I'm not saying that people are stupid to be pro-military, just that there seems to be some correlation." The correlation is this: You are anti-miltary. You think you are intelligent. (Everybody does) You think that people that agree with you are also intelligent. (Everybody does) I am sure that pro-military persons think that most intelligent people also seem to be pro-military. Personally I'm anti-miltary, and really dumb.

Re:Perhaps they have a conscience? (4, Insightful)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848327)

Too dumb to preview it seems

fixed:

"While I've known many brilliant people involved in making stuff for the military, most intelligent people also seem to be anti-military. I'm not saying that people are stupid to be pro-military, just that there seems to be some correlation."

The correlation is this:

You are anti-miltary.
You think you are intelligent. (Everybody does)
You think that people that agree with you are also intelligent. (Everybody does)

I am sure that pro-military persons think that most intelligent people also seem to be pro-military.

Personally I'm anti-miltary, and really dumb.

Re:Perhaps they have a conscience? (4, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848441)

I think you just offended a lot of people. I certainly did a little soul searching when the startup I worked for got bought out by a large defense contractor, but in the end I can't directly affect whether we go to war or not, but I sure as heck can give our soldiers the tools they need to come home alive. Yes, I tend to vote Democrat and I think the Iraq war was one of the most boneheaded public policy decisions in my lifetime, but I still go to work every day supporting the troops in a very real way (unlike most of those who think supporting the troops means buying yellow magnets and bumper stickers).

Re:Perhaps they have a conscience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848447)

While I've known many brilliant people involved in making stuff for the military, most intelligent people also seem to be anti-military.

I'm not saying that people are stupid to be pro-military, just that there seems to be some correlation.

Excellent point and it unfortunately says a lot about our US values, but if you want to have a good paying job in an organization that is pushing the boundaries of technology, then you probably have to work for the DoD, NSA, CIA, DARPA, or DHS. We only seem to want to invest in research and development if it is for the purposes of winning wars. There are other departments that hire many scientists and engineers (Department of Energy), but I am sure that the numbers will show that the pay in those departments, whether contractor or civil servant, is significantly worse.

More money to be made elsewhere? (5, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847937)

Yes, it's a government job, and the government gives pretty good benefits, but why work as a civil servant when you could get a higher-paying job in private industry doing work under contract for DARPA?

Re:More money to be made elsewhere? (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848241)

but why work as a civil servant when you could get a higher-paying job in private industry doing work under contract for DARPA?
From lowest salary to highest
military --> civil servant --> private sector --> consultant

As for why you'd work as a civil servant... it's really hard to get fired?

Re:More money to be made elsewhere? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848381)

Not only does DARPA not pay very well, compared to the private sector, the jobs are located in the Washington D.C. area. DC is expensive, the commute is hellish, the summers are hot and muggy and the area is very conservative. I spent 4 years working for the government in DC before I fled to California.

Re:More money to be made elsewhere? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848479)

Civil servants frequently have outrageously good retirement programs, which tends to be ignored in salary comparisons. You probably need 40% more salary private sector to match the typical retirement a civil servant will get.

Because I dont want to work for terrorists? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23847943)

What the government does is terrorism to me.

Re:Because I dont want to work for terrorists? (0, Troll)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848013)

I completely agree! And, no, I'm not posting anonymously! First Amendment right, BUSH!

Is this really a mystery? (4, Insightful)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847949)

Where are all the Einsteins who want to be on the cutting edge for the Government?

We have a government that for 8 years has tried to outsource as many of its functions as possible to private firms that pay much better than the government itself. Geez, let me guess where smart people are hiding...

I used to do that kind of work (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23847973)

It took a while for me to realize that far too often, it's immoral. Here's hoping that others are smarter than I was, and are understanding that more quickly.

Simple (1)

suburbanmediocrity (810207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847977)

Bureaucracy and politics.

Because... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23847985)

... "all the Einsteins" would do things like implement proper backing up of e-mails at the Whitehouse. Need I say more?

Likely Reasons (5, Insightful)

weston (16146) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847989)

1) It's getting harder to believe we're the good guys.

2) The increasing view of government agencies as mismanaged and incapable (and the fact that we somewhat consistently elect candidates that loudly proclaim this outcome as immutable and inevitable), and public sector/military work as a refuge for the bureaucratic and dull.

3) Business politics are marginally easier to put up with than ideological politics and graft.

4) The private sector pays as well or better, and you probably don't have to relocate.

4a) Fewer of the best and brightest don't choose technology/research, because it's quite clear our society values lawyers and management more.

Re:Likely Reasons (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848167)

4a) Fewer of the best and brightest don't choose technology/research, because it's quite clear our society values lawyers and management more.
Or try to start a TV career through the weekly flavor of Reality Shows. ;)

Re:Likely Reasons (5, Insightful)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848287)

I am just an engineer and I would never work for a government that destroys another country just to rebuild it. They need to bring back assassinations and stop killing civilians to change forms of government.

Re:Likely Reasons (1)

jambarama (784670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848377)

My one disagreement is on 4a. If the best & brightest were avoiding tech/research flooding lawyers/management - why are so many managers so dumb, where as so many tech people & researchers do smart? Thats my experience anyway. Lawywers I lump with politicians - they're smart, but largely devoid of a conscience.

Re:Likely Reasons (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848437)

4) The private sector pays as well or better, and you probably don't have to relocate.

This is a good point: to work at DARPA, wouldn't you have to relocate to the Washington, DC area? That place is a complete dump! You couldn't pay me enough to live in that hellhole. Maybe the government should try getting away from this idea that all Federal government stuff must absolutely be located in the DC area, and try locating in more desirable places, and then maybe they'd have more job applicants.

Hey, who wouldn't want a government job? (5, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 6 years ago | (#23847995)

Who wouldn't be tripping over themselves trying to get a job with low pay, be saddled bureaucracy, receive no public recognition, have to pass periodic drug, credit and background checks for security clearance, get crappy benefits and with no stock options.

Sounds like a dream job.

Obligatory Simpsons (5, Funny)

computerman413 (1122419) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848005)

How about a music video with lyrics such as "APRAD nioj"?

Duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848009)

question:"Where are all the Einsteins who want to be on the cutting edge for the Government?"

answer:"Either working for the Chinese government, or global corporations."

Because DARPA doesn't do research (5, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848011)

Where are all the Einsteins who want to be on the cutting edge for the Government?"

Well, of course, DARPA doesn't do research. DARPA manages contracts with other organizations that do research.

The Einsteins most likely want to be in the organizations that actually do the research.

Government Bureaucracy (4, Insightful)

SpaFF (18764) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848041)

As someone who works as a government contractor, my guess is it is because government bureaucracy stifles innovation. Most smart minds would rather work in academia where they get more freedoms, less restrictions, and are more easily able to surround themselves with likeminded individuals.

Re:Government Bureaucracy (2, Interesting)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848379)

As someone who works as a government contractor, my guess is it is because government bureaucracy stifles innovation. Most smart minds would rather work in academia where they get more freedoms, less restrictions, and are more easily able to surround themselves with likeminded individuals.
I think acadmia is to some degree a 'play science' pyramid scheme. Certain types of useful research can be accomplished in that setting, but for many worthwhile topics its impossible to find funding, and its always a treadmill. Private sector R&D would be better, if corporations were less fixated on short-term stock gains, and more interested in long term investment. Actually the market looks pretty bleak to me for people who want to do real research, and not just publish rigorous yet largely meaningless papers and pad their resumes.

Because.. (3, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848049)

- The government is obviously corrupt

- The government is obviously corrupt and working hand in hand with organizations out to destroy the internet.

- The government is obviously corrupt and working hard to make it easier for these same organizations to engage in a domestic terrorism campaign via lawsuits.

Bad Karma (4, Insightful)

mbrod (19122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848055)

Many scientists have wised up to the fact their fun invention today maybe burning the skin off some poor kid tomorrow.

While they didn't do the actual killing, they do have other options available to them.

I have a BS in Math (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848067)

No one wants a BS in Math now a days. Not even the gubbament's think tank, Darpa, apparently.

But, even still, when I graduate in 09 with my MA in Econ. I'll have much more lucrative and personally interesting things to be doing. Or Ph D in Econ. school ;)

Re:I have a BS in Math (0, Troll)

jasonmanley (921037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848153)

Wow you are set dude! Good luck with all of that. A BS in Math and an MA in Economics - dude you have some good fortune coming your way. Enjoy - yes I am jealous but I will not let that impede my ability to wish yu well.

Maybe the government should take a cue from google (1)

Bootle (816136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848069)

and not be evil!

HA! Try going for the salaries, stock options, and posh work environs first. Seems a little more realistic, no?

Because management is boring (5, Insightful)

Dr.Pete (1021137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848083)

As far as I can tell, from the article, it's DARPA lacking program managers that is the issue. A DARPA program manager allocates money, directs research within a program and decides if a particular group in the program is performing up to scratch. Sure, you have to be pretty well up on the state of the art in a fairly broad range of areas to succeed in doing this but, at the end of the day, you aren't actually doing any research. Working for DARPA is the scientific equivalent of middle management. Who gets into research to do that? This impression is gathered from the giant sample set of one DARPA program manager I've have the pleasure of working with, so I may have a skewed view on the whole operation.

Re:Because management is boring (4, Informative)

Octorian (14086) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848473)

This is what most people here simply don't know about DoD/Gov't employment. The people who work for the gov't in that world aren't doing interesting technical work. They're managing projects at a high level, sifting through requirements, sitting in meetings, and setting up contracts.

Oh, and they've also taken lots of excruciatingly boring courses on understanding this process [dau.mil] . (ok, DARPA gets an exemption from that, but everyone else doesn't)

Whenever you hear about a cool new DARPA/DoD project, its not the DARPA/DoD folks who are actually doing the cool work. Its non-gov't people working for some company the gov't has a contract with that actually have all the fun.

Because they drastically reduced academic funding (3, Informative)

davidgay (569650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848115)

Well everything I hear says that (in CS at least) DARPA drastically cut their academic research funding. Is it then any surprise that research-minded people ignore DARPA?

Young Techies Hate Bush. (0, Troll)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848131)

Young techies tend to be progressive, as progressive as bush is regressive, as such they absolutely hate the Bush administration.

I sincerely would have enlisted with some arm of the military for the structured experience, but I will not associate myself with the bush government.

I get the feeling that a darpa under Obama will grow and prosper.

Re:Young Techies Hate Bush. (2, Informative)

nickhart (1009937) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848435)

I get the feeling that a darpa under Obama will grow and prosper.

It is possible that DARPA will grow and prosper under Obama. After all, he wants to increase military spending, increase the size of the military by up to 80,000 troops and send even more cannon fodder to Afghanistan. Possibly to Iran as well. Maybe he'll decide to increase funding for DARPA too. After all, regardless of what their PR department claims, the purpose of DARPA is to help the US military. Destroying countries and killing people is what the military does best.

Frankly, I think most people give Obama too much credit. He's a hawk and he's pro-empire. [socialistworker.org] Electing him isn't going to change anything except the rhetoric used to justify the US's imperial ambitions.

Because they pay crap (0, Redundant)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848145)

I can tell you why I'm not working for DARPA: Because I can make three times as much money in the private sector, inventing and patenting things that hopefully help people out, rather than you know....KILLING THEM ALL. Pretty simple decision.

Simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848151)

Strict environments are depressing. Who wants to work in an area where you can't even have your pda with you, or IM your friends in the real world? Especially if all of your co-workers are stereotypical asperger's-plagued basement dwellers who think they are a lot smarter than they really are (typical government environment in my experience), while being lazy sloths compared to those like them in the private sector. What a depressing place to be for the truly brilliant. Then there is the memorization of acronyms, how to use security containers, the incredible bureaucracy, and legacy shit that needs to be changed, but can't be because it is the sr. guy in charge's baby and he hasn't seen a new way to do things in 20 years. Then there is the utter clusterfuck of how things are done. Project management? Yeah, right. The strict military way of doing things as a repeatable process definitely does not apply to their IT infrastructure.

I'm currently working for the military on some stuff that would be really fun and rewarding anywhere else, but this environment and the people within it is sucking my will to live. My resume will be back in circulation soon.

maybe (3, Informative)

niloroth (462586) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848159)

Maybe, just maybe, people are a little put off by the current administration's habit of censoring and twisting science to it's own political stances. You can only abuse science and technology so long before the people who do the science and create the technology start to seriously resent you. Maybe we will see a change after this election, i don't know. But i hope we do.

It's quite simple, actually. (3, Interesting)

Arrogant-Bastard (141720) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848205)

Word has gotten out that DARPA is run by political appointees selected for their blind loyalty to the present administration, not for their intelligence and expertise. The best and brightest are of course aware of this, and few of them relish the prospect of working for a pack of first-class morons who report up a chain of command which terminates in someone far too stupid to deserve the compliment "moron". It's possible that this will change once President Obama takes office and does some serious house-cleaning, although frankly, any institution so badly mismanaged for so many years can't be put right quickly no matter how competent and sustained the effort. It's a pity that this has been allowed to happen -- or rather, that this has been deliberately made to happen -- but that philosophical note aside, the practical impact is that anyone choosing to work for DARPA at the moment really needs a full psychiatric evaluation with particular emphasis on latent self-destructive tendencies.

It's better to be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848211)

... at the right hand of the devil than in his path.

Or, you could live by the sword and die by the sword...

I'm a bit torn.

Only for americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848221)

You can't get a government job in america if you're not american, it's that simple. There are many smart people but they can't apply for those kinds of jobs since they live elsewhere(canada) and don't have american citizenship. Your loss usa.

ask slashdot for a clue (5, Informative)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848225)

Here's a free one: DARPA gives grants. Unless you want to be a grant administrator, chances are you don't really want to work for DARPA.

A little, um, research into DARPA would have uncovered that insight.

bureaucracy is killing us (5, Informative)

rlwhite (219604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848227)

No one with real expertise wants to be stuck in a bureaucratic agency, shuffling the papers and attending meetings at least 6 hours a day. I've been a low-level engineer in one of the military's RDT&E agencies (not DARPA), and everyone there who has ever had any technical skill complains of skill atrophy, boredom, and endless unproductive bureaucracy. I was very lucky to get out while I could. One of the high-level managers there had been known to say that their strategy was to bring in the best and brightest technical minds they could and keep them 3-4 years until their skills had atrophied to the point that no one else would hire them.

If the government wants to succeed here, they absolutely have to throw out all the rulebooks and start over. I've been in project groups that tried to do true engineering work within the government, and it was a resource management nightmare. It would take months to order most anything. Everytime I tried to do something, I always needed something I didn't have and couldn't get for a long time. What we have now is simply an exercise in getting people paychecks. This is the real government welfare system.

Re:bureaucracy is killing us (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848307)

bureaucratic nonsense is just as bad at large companies as it is in the government. the real reason to so called best and brightest aren't working at DARPA is because they aren't working ANYWHERE - they are all still living in academic land chasing soft research grants

because the gov. is not trustable, that's why (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848229)

Where are all the Einsteins who want to be on the cutting edge for the Government?

they realize that this government will only turn their good work into some form of harm or evil.

plus, they generally require you to piss in a bottle. they start off assuming you are a 'bad guy' and require you to prove that you are not. and that's never a good way to start off. I use that as a screening FOR employers; if they want body samples, I say 'no thanks' and I continue on with the next job in my search. the government loses a LOT of really smart and creative people due to insane ultra-conservative-agenda rules.

Not enough stupid smart people (0, Flamebait)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848233)

The US is ass-deep in a foolish, expensive, illegal, immoral war. Why would smart people want to use the most productive years of their lives supporting such idiocy?

I'll tell you why (5, Interesting)

giminy (94188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848235)

I spent two years of my life post-graduate school working at DoD research laboratories, and can say with some experience why Geeks should not join DARPA (or any government research lab). It can be summed up in one word: "research."

Government labs no longer do the stuff for the most part. There are still some pockets left, but they are few and far between, and shrinking. I graduated with a MS in computer science, with a two-year focus on computer security. I was offered a job in a research team with with a DoD lab and eagerly took it. But it wasn't research. It was contract management. Essentially, I got to read research proposals from companies, and decide whether or not those companies would be funded for their ideas. My ability to influence the actual research of the companies was quite limited. I was able to come up with 'calls for proposals,' that is, statements of new topics that we'd like proposals on from companies. By the time these ideas were raped^Wvetted by the various program and contract managers, the descriptions were so incredibly vague that the proposals received in response to the call were completely off-topic. I got frustrated very early on and left.

In my exit interview, I asked my supervisor to define research. His definition was adequate. I then asked him if that's what we did. He stammered a bit, and ultimately conceded that we, "facilitated research." We had a very interesting discussion. Due to research project overruns throughout the 80s, particularly with software projects, as well as the end of the Cold War, the Congress changed the focus of DoD research programs. New funding rules dictate that research projects are placed under contract. In this way, if a company is paid to do research and development on a project, and it fails to deliver, the government has some recourse. If actual government employees received funding and failed, there would not be much that congress could do to them (Congress could slash the non-salary portions of the failed project's budget, but that's not very intimidating to the employees when you think about it).

The place where the 'cool' stuff happens these days is by the contractors. If you want to work on ARPA and DARPA quality work, start a small business and start winning on SBIR awards. I wouldn't recommend actually working for DARPA or a government research lab, though, unless you really want to be a contract manager and not be very hands-on with technology and ideas.

Re:I'll tell you why (5, Interesting)

giminy (94188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848489)

I thought my original message was perhaps too harsh and didn't offer any ideas on solution. So I decided to write a reply to myself.

I'd like to emphasize that there are some great people that work in DARPA and the various other research labs. I was definitely fortunate to work with or at least meet with the people that I did during my time in DoD. Quite a few people are technical and smart, and can see some big problems that we're facing. That is an incredibly good thing. I think that, from a human resources angle, the research labs are facing a legitimate problem though: they need people with technical expertise and passion to do a job that does not utilize that technical expertise and passion in a very glamorous way. It is downright demeaning to a lot of people with advanced degrees in a subject to do a job that doesn't involve actually doing the stuff that they studied, but instead watching other people do that stuff (and often doing it wrong!).

It is incredibly hard for DARPA and other agencies to spin the job in the right way to smart people. My point is that they're going about this whole 'selling the job' thing wrong -- they should try to change the job a bit to make it more technical in order to get people interested. Maybe they (the Congress) could require government contractors to accept the government-employed contract manager into their fold as a department head, paid for by the government. It could certainly be an interesting experiment that might yield a good outcome (which, I daresay, would be research worth funding).

Its quite simple actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848245)

No one has any faith in the US Governments motives or ability to perform anymore.

Im sad to say it, but there is to pride in working for the US right now. What is left is battered out of you by complete lack of sense and vision.

Two words: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848253)

Security Clearance.

We're rejecting and canning people because of even the most minor and often ancient of unrelated and innocuous financial transgressions and social relations -- even for the most insignificant of positions in government, contractors and even subcontractors thereof.

It's asinine. There are senators and congressmen with worse records and credit than contractors denied clearance to mop their floors.

The process is so intrusive and debasing that many people take one look at the paperwork and simply walk away.

Re:Two words: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848279)

Nope. I know guys with TS / SCI who I am frankly amazed are not (still) incarcerated.

Don't pay for cost of living. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848269)

I believe most DARPA jobs are in the DC area. As an Electrical and Computer Engineer, I was recruited for many defense contractor jobs. The problem is, they're all in the Washington DC area and pay like they're not.

Good, recent college EE graduates should be getting 80k+ to work in the DC area. Otherwise, you're underpaying them.

Cost of living adjustments for my first salary to the DC area showed that I should be paid 100k in DC.

they are in shanghai and bangalore (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848283)

and if you think that was a snide comment on other countries having the best and brightest, don't worry about it

DARPA is still employing them, in shanghai and bangalore

and so we actually have an optimistic comment here: an interconnected world is a world that doesn't have a need or desire to go to war with itself, that doesn't actually need a defense department. the de-isolation of governmental brainpower isn't the beginning of the end of a good defense department, it is the beginning of the end of a need for defense

globalization ftw

maybe some of us have more morals than einstein (-1, Troll)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848315)

The man was a mass murderer after all. Some of us don't want to create weapons of mass destruction, even if we're assured by skilled liars they will not be used to kill thousands of innocent civilians.

I've worked on gov contracts (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848319)

DARPA may be different, but every gov contract I've ever worked on has been a soul-sucking, process-intensive horror in buildings that are row after row of blue-gray cubicles. No flexibility in hours, no creative work environment or benefits. No bonuses for on time delivery and certainly no equity positions. And always badges. Stinking badges, base stickers, dog and pony shows for the brass, and mandatory meetings for the sheer delight of listening to someone go on about the dumbest things. And never any room just to experiment, try things that don't work, and make mistakes.

If DARPA moved their tech research to a beach-side resort in Peurto Rico, provided a beach volleyball court and bbq, free sodas and regular hops back to the states, you'd see the brightest and best lining up to work there.

Hey, DARPA, if you want top talent, call me. I know what programmers and researchers want and how to structure a work environment to keep them interested. Otherwise, best of luck with your soul-sucking land of crappy cubicles.

We don't have the best and the brightest anymore (3, Interesting)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848337)

I witnessed a state come up with a way to provide free college education to all residents.
The stipulations were
A) Had to be a resident when graduating high school
B) Had to be an instate college
C) Had to have a B average and maintain it through college

When the enacting governor left office, the replacement governor promised college for all students.
The result was grade inflation where the D average inner city kid got that magical B average
and because of affirmative action, the D average kids got head of the line admission to the universities over the real B and A achievers.

We see animosity from the educational unions over the home and private schooled kids because their results are better and it's the unions that say that the results aren't fair.

Political correctness got rid of the best and brightest.

DARPA is a contracting agency (3, Informative)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848373)

Most of the R&D under DARPA's watch is farmed out to the big 5 American defense contractors: NG, Raytheon, LockMart, BAE, Boeing, as well as think tanks like Mitre, Rand, Battelle.

Maybe at one time DARPA was something more, but thinking back to ARPANet... that was all contractors and contracted academia as well. BBN, MIT Lincoln, Mitre all immediately pop in mind.

(And yes, I am aware BAE Systems is a subsidiary of BAE plc. With the SSA and totally separate financials, it is in all but name an American company... and soon will be totall US in fact as well. Meerkat Salute!

Didn't know they were hiring (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848393)

I'm planning to retire early at 50, but, honestly, I could see going over to DARPA or some such to manage or oversee some projects. The moeny wouldn't matter as much as it would to some young guy trying to get a maximum salary out in the private sector.

I've worked on similar technology programs where the idea was simply to push the state of the art. The other side of the job didn't seem so bad. They get to travel a lot and see interesting new tech. Maybe they should recruit in the 40 to 55 age range. You've got experience and stability there.

Gee that's a thinker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848419)

Have they tried, oh, I don't know, paying them well?

Great idea (1)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848433)

Advertisement on playing cards? Oh yeah, that is a sure way to attract smart people. Why not have ads on lottery tickets [google.com] while we're at it? Why indeed.

moolah, moolah moolah (1)

iamdevnull (1231284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848451)

y work at darpa when you can work somewhere else that wins darpa contracts? actually, i work for a 'research' place that wins lots of awards from DARPA. i would rather work at this place because this place pays extremely well, is located close to boston, and there are a lot of cool people that work there (besides myself!) so y go to darpa, then? and there are lots of places like this.

Oh really ? (3, Funny)

Phiu-x (513322) | more than 6 years ago | (#23848475)

"They too are after you !?!"

"Here take a beer, and let me talk to you about when I was approached to work for the NSA"

"Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And, of course, the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin', 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president."

So fuck NSA and fuck DARPA! Now where are my sheeps ?"

It's the funding, stupid! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23848495)

As a young professor at a top CS program, I can give a simple reason CS interest in DARPA has waned: because DARPA funding as waned, both in the amount of available grant money and the attractiveness of the terms.

While NSF grants have little oversight, require few deliverables, and have 3-4 year terms, DARPA grants increasingly have 1.5-2 year horizons, require regular reports and site visits, and have go/no-go mid-term decisions. Furthermore, DARPA projects increasingly want deliverables and seek classification. Thus, while NSF still allows you to engage in more blue-sky, high-risk research, DARPA is interested in advanced development. Not quite the thing academics and grad students signed up for. No surprise most DARPA funding has switched from universities to contractors.

Most academics I know would love to return to the DARPA gravy-train of pre-Tony Tether days; the funding terms and dollar amounts just aren't there currently.

This CRA post summarized it well:

    http://www.cra.org/govaffairs/blog/archives/000624.html [cra.org]

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