What do you do if one of the program officers at a funding agency to which you send proposals is not as professional, sane, objective, and/or non-hating-of-your-guts as you might wish them be?
How common is this?
I suspect it isn't very common in its most severe form. I can think of maybe 3 colleagues in the past 15-20 years who have had this experience at such a serious level that they had to change their research topics because there was no way they were going to be funded in a certain program by a certain program officer no matter how awesome their proposals.
Even so, I am wondering how common it is for someone writing a proposal to feel some anxiety about the program officer's personal opinion of them, objectivity about certain types or subfields of research, or other aspects that don't strictly involve the "intellectual merit" of the proposed research -- whether or not the anxiety is based on experience or even reality.
There are many things to be anxious about when submitting a proposal. Where does anxiety about program officers rank among them? I refer here specifically to anxiety about program officers, not reviewers or panel members or others who might be in the reviewing chain.
For me, anxiety about program officers has always been extraordinarily low or non-existent, but lately it has shot up to close to the top of the list. I hope this is temporary, and I hope certain program officers are very temporary.
5 weeks ago