Regs Nix New World

Monday - 10/19/2009, 4:00am EDT

If Christopher Columbus had been a civil servant instead of a free-lance contractor, where would we (you, me, all of us) be today?

Would there be buffalo from sea to shining sea. Would the Potomac teem with edible fish? Would thousands of tribal governments have evolved to produce the equivalent of the U.S. Senate?

Would David Letterman exist, but in a different form?

Just suppose that Columbus, a good planner but also a seat-of-the-pants kind of guy, had to cope with the many hurdles, qualifications and regulations that would accompany such a mission in 2009? We posed these questions in a column last week and a lot of very nice people came through with some interesting ideas.

Such as:

  • "A GS 11 Columbus would have been required to hold a DAU Level III acquisition certification and would have been the sole US Government person with any oversight on the voyage. Acting as the COR from 3,000 miles away, communicating by messages in a rum bottle, on this contracted out project. He would have been a GS11 at best, likely a GS9. Naturally he would have screwed up writing the PWS, such that all cargo that was brought back was the property of the Queen, except that "New World' goods would not be included in the scope of contract. Thus all that tobacco money and the real-estate discovered would have gone directly into the crew's pockets." Greg Pearson

  • "I can't believe you didn't mention the obvious: His EEO and Affirmative Action Plan!" JJ Dippel, Retired.

  • "You may be interested to know that in Hawaii, Columbus Day is called 'Discovers' Day' in recognition of those many discoverers you mentioned. Not only did Columbus fail to get anywhere near Hawaii, but in the island state's case, those discoverers included Captain Cook as well as the first settlers, who you might call Native Hawaiians but actually came from the South Pacific." Mary Beth Thompson

  • "With all of the evidence that Columbus wasn't the first to 'discover' America, it seems like a good idea to do away with this Federal holiday in exchange for Patriot's Day on September 11th. Don't you think so? " Jeannie B.

  • "Immigration, Customs and Border Patrol, and the State Department, would naturally have to sign off on any such voyage. Did he and crew have visas? Police records?"

  • "Agriculture would certainly want to know if they were bringing in any plants, meats , bugs or birds. And Homeland Security likely would have wanted a piece of this action. Sorry, this voyage to the New World is a non-starter" Mick at the Interior Department.

  • "There is no way we of the Environmental Protection Agency would have approved Columbus' route plan or goals. Or method of operation. It had the potential for high-risk impact. Also, like scientists today, you had the division between the Flat Earth people and those who believed the world was round. Nobody here would sign off on his trip." Call me John Boy at the EPA

  • "If Columbus managed to clear all the hurdles you mentioned for a Federal Agency Action, he would still have to write an Enviromental Impact Statement. That would have required that he analyze the impacts of his voyage on the environment and the social and economic impacts on both the European people and the Native people. He would probably still be writing.

    "Columbus' real claim to fame is not that he was the first, but that his discovery had consequences, people stayed, colonized and changed the fate of the western hemisphere." Susan A. Rodman She is, naturally, with the U.S. Forest Service!!!

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