Surprise! DoE Awarded $50 Light Bulb Contract to Group Who Skirted the Rules

Posted by on Apr 03, 2012 at 11:09 am

It’s the Obama way. I’d be shocked — shocked! — to discover they were an Obama donor.

Contest rules mandated that an entrant that failed to meet basic standards would be “terminated” and forced to return to square one of the competition.

There is no indication that Philips’ entry was disqualified, however.

Scientists who developed rival bulbs were outraged when they heard that the department allowed Philips to move forward.

“We treated the standards as Gospel: you had to have 900 lumens, you had to have the right color, the right temperature, the right (light distribution),” said one engineer who worked on the Lighting Sciences Group’s L Prize design.

“We went through revision after revision because if you change the (brightness), the color could be wrong and we’d start over. If we had known we could have fudged the (brightness) then everything else becomes easy,” the engineer said.

In 2009, when other lighting companies were still at the design phase of the process, Philips submitted a 2,000-bulb sample to the department. The quick submission intimidated many others vying for the L Prize, according to multiple industry insiders.

“Not once did the DOE ever let anyone know about the testing results; there was no transparency,” another lighting expert said. “If they had made it known in 2010 that Philips didn’t pass the test, then other competitors would have proceeded forward. The inference was that they passed.”

The department closed the competition and awarded Philips the $10 million prize in August 2011.

The brightness test was not the only requirement that Philips may not have reached. Department notes also indicate that reviewers changed the light distribution criteria to Philips’ favor.

H/T Andy.

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2 Responses to “Surprise! DoE Awarded $50 Light Bulb Contract to Group Who Skirted the Rules”

  1. Jeff Deal on 3/03/12 at 11:18 pm

    Clarification. It wasn’t Philips that skirted the rules. They followed the rules given to them by the DOE. It was to Philips advantage that the rules kept changing in their favor. It was the DOE that was skirting the rules and, for this, jobs should be lost and former DOE employees should be thrown in jail.