The theme of the day is stupid hoops that well-meaning bureaucrats dream up to try to make PIs take care of their postdocs, or to try to make NIH take care of their postdocs, and why those hoops fail to do anybody any good.
So I have mentioned that I am a postdoc and that I recently applied for a grant. The astute among you are probably aware that postdocs are generally not allowed to apply for grants as such, and most universities require special permission for postdocs to do so.
The thing that really got me in trouble on this grant process was the pile of paperwork that my advisor was supposed to do, but didn't. She is usually very forthcoming about what she will and won't do, but for some reason this time she didn't, and ultimately ended up saying I should just do it for her and she would sign off on it. This is also the way she handles recommendation letters. We draft everything and then she makes minor changes.
Many PIs are like this. I don't know the percentages of people at each level who are aware of just how common this is, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't include any of the bureaucrats who think it is a good idea to force the PI to write a page or two about how committed they or the university might be to having me, the postdoc, get a grant.
I'm sure they mean well. I've even sat on committees that recommended these kinds of things, and it's supposed to be an excuse to stimulate communication, these little things that are supposed to get written. Of course the most useful ones, e.g. the annual evaluations, never get done because there is no postdoc office to enforce it.
But all things attached to money are enforced.
So for this grant I not only had to write a letter for my advisor, but I also had to write 2 pages on why I should be given permission to apply for the grant, as well as 2 pages on the facilities and other resources available for me to do the research. All of these things are ostensibly my advisor's job. And she's not unusual in expecting me to do it.
Anyway I'm just laughing because I'm reading Bridges to Independence again, and it's a lot of the same thing. It's very clear where this mentality comes from. These people mean well, they really do. It's just the implementation that totally fails.