Because the services are using the money entrusted to them so wisely. Today’s example comes from the US Air Force, but none of the other services are any better led and managed than this.
The Air Force recently threw in the sponge on an 8-year effort to roll out accounting and administrative software when they discovered that the billion-with-a-B dollars they’d spent on this had accomplished nothing, and to start from here and accomplish even a small fraction of the original plan would cost at least $1.1 billion (with a B) more.
Dubbed the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), the project has racked up $1.03 billion in costs since 2005, “and has not yielded any significant military capability,” an Air Force spokesman said in an emailed statement Wednesday. “We estimate it would require an additional $1.1B for about a quarter of the original scope to continue and fielding would not be until 2020. The Air Force has concluded the ECSS program is no longer a viable option for meeting the FY17 Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) statutory requirement. Therefore, we are cancelling the program and moving forward with other options in order to meet both requirements.”
Just to put things in perspective: $1.03 billion has been wasted on this boondoggle so far. Let’s just ignore the $1B. The zero point zero three billion is thirty million dollars, and these guys are treating it as a RITZ, round it to zero, in their discussions, because when you’ve wasted a billion doing something stupid (and doing something stupid so stupidly, ineptly, badly to leave no useful residue whatsoever) then, really, what’s the big deal about thirty million more?
When the project originally rolled out in 2005, the system was supposed to cost $88.5 million. Spastic management and lax oversight let ever-larger contracts, with nothing usable ever accomplished, except excellent wages for unproductive busywork in the National Capital Region, and Legions of Merit and/or Distinguished Service Medals for the colonels and generals who oversaw this rollicking carambolage of calamity. And then no doubt retired to corner offices in the contractors
The Air Force’s current systems are such a mess that its books can’t be audited. This system was supposed to accomplish that, but instead the USAF will try to cobble together something with the existing, pre-2005 systems. Legislation requires the service to have its books in auditable shape by 2017, but most of the lead time has now been wasted along with the billion dollars.
CIO Magazine found an “expert on IT project failiures,” Michael Krigsman. “Why did it take the [Air Force] $1 billion and almost 10 years to realize this project is a disaster? What kind of planning process accepts a billion dollars of waste?”
But they’ll have it right for 2017, right? A pessimistic Krigsman is doubtful. “I suspect we will see another failure story accompanied by many excuses.”
Well, that is the way to bet on DOD IT projects.