Maybe I'm just having a sudden memory lapse, but I don't recall anything of this scale going on before the war in Iraq.
In an effort to get around the interview catch-22, the Defense Department authorized the hiring this week of an outside contractor to confidentially gather the views of troops and their families, several Pentagon officials privy to the deliberations said.
The contractor, Westat, a Maryland research firm with experience surveying military communities, will gather information from 350,000 troops and their families, including from homosexual service members. The company will use that data to assess the possible impact of a change in policy on military effectiveness and identify possible changes needed in military recruiting, housing, spousal benefits, and other areas, according to the officials.
Um, do they really need that big of a sample size? Couldn't they have gotten by with surveying 35,000 people, or even 3500? Considering that they brought on Westat this week, they'll have to start preparing now, they'll probably start the survey in a few months, and it'll take months after that to collect data, with more months to analyze all that data. The ridiculous sample size would probably put the results of this study well into 2011.
Of course, that's if the goal was to do the survey as cheaply and quickly as possible while still gathering usable data. But we already know that it's a stall tactic, so the goal isn't "quickly." And since they're going through a military contractor, the goal isn't "cheaply," either:
The company did not return calls for comment. One of the Pentagon officials said that Westat, operating under a $4.4 million contract, will "develop, administer, and analyze'' the survey results and will also help organize additional forums and group discussions, with a premium placed on confidentiality.
Oh the military. They sure do know how to waste money. If only there were some democratically-elected body in the federal government that had power over them....
They hired an outside contractor just now because the military already started group sessions and found out that when gay people can't come out, they can't really give useful information:
When then asked whether they believe having those troops in their unit has harmed its ability to function effectively, far fewer raise their hands, the officials said.
The most common concerns that troops have raised, however, have been about privacy in the barracks and that openly gay service would conflict with their religious views, the officials said.
In these initial sessions, participants have also been informed at the outset that they should not reveal whether they are gay or lesbian, reflecting one of the key challenges the assessment group has encountered.
All I know is that they could have just handed out Scantron forms with sealable envelopes to all these people and told them to have it filled out by Monday. It'd not like the information they're going to get will be worth all the time, money, and people fired in the interim that their methodology entails.
I mean, I could tell them that living spaces and "religious views" would be the main problems that other soldiers would have, and no one's paying me $4.4 million.