Most laboratories buy stuff that they need to do their research. It varies. From latex gloves to pipette tips. From mice to bunnies. From cocaine to ABD-xld500BZN....whatever that is. Operant boxes to sequencers. Stuff.
All of these cost money which generally comes from the laboratory budgets. Startup, unattached funds if you have 'em and, for the most part research grants.
Consider this scenario.
We usually get our genotyping done outside of the lab. I mean, I could have this service performed in house by staff but there are many small vendors in my biotech/university/science community that will do it for us.
I met this guy at the bar. Or, maybe I recently ran into an old grad school friend. Some woman I postdoc'd with back in the day. A friend of my spouse. Whomever.
This person is starting up a brand new biotech support company, mom-and-pop kind of thing. This GenesRUs company is happy to take over our genotyping services.
I secure a quote. Wow. Two times the most expensive bottom line I came up with for doing it in-house that convinced me to hit the vendors in the first place. Maybe 3X the price of other locals.
But. But. This person is so nice. And we have a personal connection of some sort. Gee, they are still so small that they will come pick up from us at basically any time we want? And have results back prontissimo?
And you know. I HAVE the grant money. It isn't going to kill our budget to dump a few extra thousands on this top-cost option every year. Even if it amounts to tens of thousands, hey, it's just grant money, right?
The question, Dear Reader, is this.
Is it okay for me to use my PI's prerogative to spend my grant money this way? Just because I want to?