Pournelle on Prizes
I got this story via Jerry Pournelle who says "I have never understood why prizes are not popular. They cost almost nothing -- perhaps a million a year total to fund a commission that determines if a prize should be awarded -- and you know the total to be paid. A ten billion prize for a Lunar Colony Prize (keep 31 Americans alive and well on the Moon for 3 years and one day) would either get us a Moon Base or it would cost nothing. A reusable space ship prize of 5 billion (send the same ship to orbit 13 times in one year) would again get us a space ship or would cost nothing. We spent more than half that on the X-33 fiasco." Perhaps it is the ultimate proof of Pournelle's Law - that the prime purpose of government spending is to pay government workers & their friends & X-Prizes are devoted almost entirely to the nominal but secondary purpose of achieving results.