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In August, I completed an 11-month stint as director of the Petrology and Geochemistry (CH) Program in the Earth Sciences Division of the National Science Foundation. Like most bureaucracies, NSF gives standard exit interviews to all its departing employees. Below are a few of the questions I would rather have been asked, along with some of the answers I wish I knew a year ago.

Q. There is a lot of talk these days about streamlining the federal government. Would you say that NSF wastes a lot of its resources on unnecessary internal administrative costs?