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9 Bizarre (and Curious) Government Contract Jobs

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The US government is constantly posting calls for products and specialized jobs on its Federal Business Opportunities site. Here are some of the most intriguing openings and requests.

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Government spending has received more public focus over the past months as Congress decides where to cut spending and how to slow the growth of the country's large national debt. Certain expenditures have caused larger uproars than others. Lawmakers, for example, have scrutinized the reasons for the Department of Homeland Security's ammunition purchases over past months, purportedly numbering billions of rounds. The original claims against the DHS may have been exaggerated, though, as solicitations for ammunition posted on government websites show much lower numbers.

Though most people may not be aware of it, the federal government posts dozens of bizarre and interesting contractor jobs and purchase requests on its Federal Business Opportunities website daily. Anyone can peruse the list of contracts and check out how the government uses his or her tax dollars; however, the details may be vague.
Listed below are other strange and interesting posts found on the website over the past weeks.

Cocaine-Addicted Rhesus Monkeys

The National Institute for Drug Abuse, or NIDA, posted a request on April 11, searching for an organization to conduct tests on Rhesus monkeys to determine the efficacy of experimental addiction treatments on non-human primates. To secure the right to conduct the experiment, the researchers must have a laboratory capable of turning the unfortunate experimental group into cocaine addicts and housing them. The control group will be taught to discriminate against drugs while the experimental will learn how to self-administer cocaine.

When administering the potential treatment, researchers will monitor whether it acts as a substitute for cocaine or is ineffective, or even exacerbates the effects of drug addiction. Minyanville called the contracting officer for more details, but he would not divulge information regarding the motives of the experiment idea. He stated that more details would be published in a Request For Proposal, or RFP, on the Federal Business Opportunity website two weeks ago, however, the solicitation page does not contain updates.

Source: Indiana Public Media
This isn't the first time that taxpayer money has been used to force primates to become cocaine addicts. In 2010, $71,623 in federal stimulus funds went to Wake Forest University for testing the impact of cocaine on neurotransmitters in monkeys' brains.

Any Inns at Daytona Beach?

The Air Force had hoped a hotel in the Daytona Beach, Florida, area would respond to a solicitation for a retreat center by April 19. Unfortunately for single Airmen, it appears that no business will provide lodging for a three-day singles retreat from June 28 to June 30. During their stay, the 45 Airmen would have learned how to "enhance [their] personal and spiritual development," specifically learning how "giving proper care and attention to [their] spiritual dimension can also enhance [their] physical, mental, and social aspects."

What type of facility would have been used to help them encounter their spiritual side? Not an ascetic retreat house, but rather one rated no less than "Four Diamonds," according to the AAA standard (five is the highest). Hotels that meet this requirement near Daytona Beach are the Wyndham (NYSE:WYN) Ocean Walk Resort, the Sea Shells Beach Club, and the Shores Resort and Spa.

At the end of April, however, the contract morphed into a request for lodging for an active duty military couples retreat. The 32 couples stayed at a hotel in Daytona Beach from May 3 to May 5 provided by RB Daytona LLC & Hospitality Ventures MA, which received almost $35,000 for the contract.(Added-Chris)

Social Work in Ghana

The US Government Millennium Challenge Corporation posted on April 17 that it seeks an independent consultant to help lead a social and gender assessment in Ghana. The consultant, who must have at least 10 years of experience working on "social and gender issues in the international development context," will provide "technical support integrating gender to large-scale development projects in Ghana."

The Ghana Statistical Service's most recent statistical data from 2010 states that of the 7.98 million Ghanaian women older than age 15, 5.23 million held jobs while 349,648 did not. Including the women "not economically active" raised the unemployment rate among women to 34.33%. In comparison, the total male population over the age of 15 totaled 7.22 million, and 5 million held a job. Last June, the Ghana Statistical Service also released a report which provides a glimpse into the discrepancy between jobs and wages in paid rural work for men and women. It found that five times more men take part in paid employment.

The listing does not specify the nature of the projects in Ghana; it only mentions that possessing experience "working on social integration and gender integration into energy projects" is a plus. Also, the consultant will help with input on environmental and social impact plans, resettlement action plans, HIV/AIDS risk management plans, and human trafficking risk management plans. As for education requirements, candidates must have a master's degree in the social sciences or a field related to sociology. Interested individuals can quote their desired pay for the job.

Robot Surgeons

To operate on a patient at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, the US Army Medical Command awarded a contract last month to Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) for da Vinci surgical instruments. The da Vinci robotic system is a machine that performs minimally invasive surgeries for several types of cancers and diseases. In this case, the government is looking for da Vinci robot systems for surgeries that "human hands would not be able to perform" and for which a patient needs a "robotic prostatectomy" because of his "tough anatomy."

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