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6 IT Projects, $8 Billion Over Budget At Dept. of Defense 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the par-for-the-course dept.
McGruber writes "The Federal Times has the stunning (but not surprising) news that a new audit found six Defense Department modernization projects to be a combined $8 billion — or 110 percent — over budget. The projects are also suffering from years-long schedule delays. In 1998, work began on the Army's Logistics Modernization Program (LMP). In April 2010, the General Accounting Office issued a report titled 'Actions Needed to Improve Implementation of the Army Logistics Modernization Program' about the status of LMP. LMP is now scheduled to be fully deployed in September 2016, 12 years later than originally scheduled, and 18 years after development first began! (Development of the oft-maligned Duke Nukem Forever only took 15 years.)"
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6 IT Projects, $8 Billion Over Budget At Dept. of Defense

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  • by prasadsurve (665770) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @06:00AM (#40800147)
    if you specify the actual cost during the planning phase, then they wouldn't be started in the first place. So people make best case estimates and then reality strikes, the actual cost exceed the allocated budget.
  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @06:03AM (#40800157)

    ...it looks like they originally expected to take 6 years to roll out their plan. Even if they'd been on schedule, by the time everything was in place, it would have been obsolete.

  • Pretty much everything the Pentagon does is over budget, behind schedule, and budget-wise, generally a spawn of wishful thinking. The "cheap" Littoral Combat Ships were sold to Congress as sub-$250 million craft. They're currently just under $700 million apiece. The "cheap" F-35 was promised to be no more than $60 million a copy or so. They're now just under $200 million a copy, flyaway (more expensive than the F-22 they were supposed to compliment). The new Ford class carriers... an evolutionary development of the current Nimitz class.... will now cost 2 1/2 times as much as the last Nimitz that was launched just a few years back.

    Why should DOD software be any different than DOD hardware when it comes to wishful thinking from the brass?

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @06:26AM (#40800207)
    In my brief stint in the Military/Industrial complex, I noticed that there were always uniformed personal on the government side of the table, and retired military people on the "civilian" side of the table. When officers retire, they leave and go to the private sector, where they end up managing projects for the military.

    I expect that the contractors were staffed with lots of "project planners" and "requirements specialists" who went straight from the service to work on these projects. And you can be sure that the ex-military are extremely unlikely to buck the system and stand up to uniformed types. And those in uniform know that they can climb on the retirement gravy train as long as they don't make life too hard for the contractors who they expect to work for when they get out.

    It's a recipe for disaster. Nobody is going to make waves, because they are all too busy looking out for their common interest. It's another example of the endemic corruption that is steadily eroding the fundamentals of US society.

    Of course this is small change compared to what goes on in the financial sector...

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... org minus author> on Saturday July 28, 2012 @07:22AM (#40800373)

    Six is a bit long, but not really outside the norm compared to how a typical large company would do it. One place I've worked, it took three years to fully roll out our Microsoft Exchange transition. And that's just desktop-oriented software for just regular employee usage. IT projects relating to anything more complex or business-critical could take more years. There are still mainframes operating at some places, and decade-long projects to replace them that haven't finished.

  • by Mister Liberty (769145) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @07:46AM (#40800457)

    Government subsidizing private corporations, overruns,
    non-transparency, corruption. And look at the straight
    faces meanwhile. What a joke.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @07:59AM (#40800513)

    When government work used to be done by government, it could have gone over budget: you have to buy more raw materials or pay more people to work more hours.

    But the whole point in outsourcing is that you pay a fixed amount to third parties to complete a specific job, and they take over the responsibility for making a profit (or, at worst, breaking even).

    OK, I lie. The whole point in outsourcing is to give treasury money to your friends, and erode the state in favour of scrounging corporations.

  • FEDERAL PRISON (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Concern (819622) * on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:34AM (#40800619) Journal

    Come on people. Say it with me.

    Federal. Prison.

    FEDERAL. PRISON.

    Are we so inured to this that we can't even speak the words, let alone call our congresspeople? Will we not even push people to ask whether the next president will be calling for the prosecution and imprisonment of the people responsible for creating a billion dollar, 18 year "army logistics" software development project?

    Don't give me that "mistaking malice for incompetence" bullshit. That's exactly what's wrong with this country. Just because it's computers, don't tell me you can't tell a $100 toilet seat when you see one. A couple years late may be incompetence, but you should have the FBI given all necessary clearances and set them crawling all over it. At 8 years into a 4 year project, you fire the buy-side project managers and cancel the project, whether you uncovered fraud or not. Fail to maintain even these basic standards, and no estimate in time or money is ever real, and every contract becomes open season for treasury looters. Oh wait, like it is today.

    There is no way on earth or heaven that a logistics system can cost this much or take this long to build. And I would say those so corrupt or negligent as the ones running implementation at the vendor or running procurement within the military should be behind bars. This is not a joke, people - this is keeping American troops in a decaying and ancient logistics system so that some weasel can steal your tax money.

    We could all start the backlash right here, today.

  • Re:110% (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 12345Doug (706366) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:01AM (#40800743)
    And what do you think happened here? It's maddening to work some of these long term implementation projects as government support staff is routinely changed causing delays in key decisions. Then requirements get changed along with the personnel changes. Duke Nukem might be a very apt description of what happened on these large projects. In addition to trying to do REALLY hard things with technology that just isn't quite there yet at on a scale most don't really understand.
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sulphur (1548251) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:10AM (#40800785)

    First rule in government spending: Why build one when you can have none for twice the price?

    If you don't spend the money, then that much is deducted from your next budget.

  • Re:FEDERAL PRISON (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shavano (2541114) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:29AM (#40801153)
    I don't think you understand how defense programs typically go so wildly over budget and schedule. Project oversight is passed from person to person every two years or less. Each officer in charge spends the first six months or more learning what the project is, often from the contractors themselves. That's bad enough. But multi year tech development contracts suffer from continual scope creep as the state of the art advances on parallel to the project under development
  • Re:FEDERAL PRISON (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:52AM (#40801291) Journal

    You skipped an important step.

    Insert after sentence 4:

    "After they've learned what the project is, they insist it is being done wrong and must be done THEIR way, essentially setting the project back to square one."

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:08AM (#40801383)

    Call me a cynic, but I think everyone wised up to the fact that they weren't really buying solid gold toilet seats, so they had to find something else in the budget to fund all that black ops stuff...

    The toilet seat thing was blown way out of proportion. It was a custom-molded plastic assembly for military aircraft use [yarchive.net], and as most people here know, when you do injection molding, the initial tooling costs are very high. High setup costs + low volume = seemingly outrageous per-unit price. It's not as if they were paying $700 for the same type of toilet seat you can buy at the local Home Depot.

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