Yes it is retarded, but that is the way Cryptic designed it.
So the optimal thing to do is to provision as much as we can while we are low tier so we won't need to waste huge amounts of resources provisioning at higher tiers.
Another reason to do provisioning projects is because the 1000xp projects require a large quantity of duty officers. Traditionally when we do these duty officer heavy projects we always get stuck for weeks trying to scrounge up enough duty officers. Ever since we switched to purely provisioning projects, we have been able to complete them swiftly and our military/engineering/science xp has increased dramatically.