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Recently, New York Governor (D) Andrew Cuomo pointed out that the US Federal government had 20,000 ventilators in stockpile; however, for some reason the Gov. were holding back on distribution until some ill-defined moment of criticality when the actual critical moment was the then "now".

Taking it a step further, I have seen this kind of situation occur in my own country in the past: emergency supplies donated by EU benefactors during the last emergency (well, take your pick..there were several) were held back from distribution until the exact need had been identified by province and village.

Unfortunately, and due mainly to bureaucracy, the exact and perfect moment never arrived, and the much needed supplies languished in a warehouse until they ultimately expired, and then were discarded.

Is there a phrase to describe this short-sighted and wasteful practice?

"Closing the barn doors after the horses have already bolted"...

does not quite capture the idea: I need a phrase that describes the "waiting until the last moment, fail , and be a waste of resources and time".

  • Personally, I file this under "there's no such thing as a free lunch". You never ever give away control of a scarce resource if you are in the govt. They tell you that on day one. Can you imaging what a ventilator will fetch when the billionaires start getting sick? The guy who has those ventilators is probably shopping for small islands in the Med. I'm betting they have all been sold ten times each and the money is in an escrow account in the Caimans. – Phil Sweet Mar 26 at 20:33
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    "Too little, too late" – Hot Licks Mar 26 at 21:16
  • @HotLicks Amen, brother. – Rattler Mar 26 at 21:19
  • It's a logistics failure...always, whether it's about supply or not. – KannE Mar 27 at 6:18
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"Missing the window of opportunity," maybe? Here's a link to window of opportunity on Wikipedia, which has this to say: A window of opportunity (also called a margin of opportunity or critical window) is a period of time during which some action can be taken that will achieve a desired outcome. Once this period is over, or the "window is closed", the specified outcome is no longer possible.

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  • So, the items in question were "procrastinated out the proverbial window of opportunity". Sounds good. – Bitter dreggs. Mar 26 at 19:04
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    A dictionary definition is another credible source. – Weather Vane Mar 26 at 19:05
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    ...kinda missing the last part..."...a waste of time and resources". – Rattler Mar 26 at 19:15
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It's called waiting till it's too late.

Recently, New York Governor (D) Andrew Cuomo pointed out that the US Federal government had 20,000 ventilators in stockpile; however, for some reason the government was holding back on distribution until some ill-defined moment of criticality when the actual critical moment was the then "now".

Don't capitalize or abreviate government. It's confusing.

In American English, it's was. In British English, it's were. Which one is right depends on which English you use.

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    Hi Charlie...you keep posting "answers" which do not actually address the topics. If you have a comment to make, please post it under the question. If you have a suggested edit, try it out. But please do not post 'corrections' in the ANSWER box. – Rattler Mar 26 at 20:57

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