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Government The Almighty Buck United States IT

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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @07:54AM (#40800481)

    Not surprised...in the early 90's I was with a small computer biz and we won a small contract to build 50 PCs for the navy specced out to run off the shelf CAD software. We built them, shipped them and the navy promptly stuck them in a warehouse for a year. When they finally pulled them out the software no longer preformed well on the PCs and every one was shipped back to be upgraded to run the newer version of the software. Shame we were to small a companyt to really rape the government for big bucks.

  • From TFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bradley13 (1118935) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:09AM (#40801067) Homepage

    From TFA: "The department is racing to meet a statutory September 2017 deadline for passing a full financial audit."

    Ya gotta love it. Any publically traded company has its accounts audited annually. The government is so out of control that it looks unlikely to meet a deadline of a successful audit five years in the future.

    The government ought to be required to follow the same standards required of companies. No one has any idea what the financial status of the US government really is, least of all the government itself...

  • by RichZellich (948451) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @04:34AM (#40806481) Homepage

    No, they originally thought they could implement it in 2 to 3 years, with part of it in place after 1 year. Took 'em 5 years to get the first supply command (CECOM) up and running, but without most of the Finance part of the system. They implemented the second command at the 9 year mark, and the remaining three Commands *all at the same time* at the 10 year mark (talk about a data migration nightmare!).

    The debacle occurred for reasons of ignorance and, perhaps, a fair measure of arrogance.

    The people at HQ Army Materiel Command (AMC) who wanted to contract out the replacement of the existing Army-wide integrated system didn't understand the existing legacy system. They thought it was obsolete - no, it wasn't, that was part of their ignorance, because the HQ AMC people who had originally sponsored the system had long since left and nobody then at HQ AMC really knew anything about the existing system..

    The contractor, CSC, had no clue whatsoever about the level of difficulty of government procurement, requisitioning, supply management, finance, provisioning, maintenance, etc. They thought because their consulting staff knew how SAP worked, they could implement an off-the-shelf solution "with a little tweaking for public law and Army & DoD policy". The supply stuff is the easy part; probably 90% of the existing system - the largest, most integrated and complex supply system in the world - was "public law and policy guidance". And both law and policy changed rapidly - one such major change occurred after the contract was let, and there was a 5-year argument over whether it had to be included in the new SAP system, or if they should field the new system first, and then ask for more money for the out-of-scope "change" to be added on afterward (they didn't understand that the needs of the troops in the field meant that _all_ changes were in-scope when it came to operating the worldwide production Army logistics system).

    CSC picked up about 200 of the original 300 Army system developers and functional experts on the Wholesale software side; something similar was done on the Depot side of the Army logistics house. They thought they were going to be able to fire them all after 3 years. These people were hired primarily to maintain the old systems while the new SAP system was developed but, because all non-critical changes were frozen, there was quite a bit of spare time to help with development of the new system. Again, CSC thought they knew it all, and refused to let the ex-Army civil servants help with the development of the new system (even though they received SAP training specifically to do so), nor even to work on data cleansing and migration from the old system to import into the new one. The Army system developers and functional experts had over 30 years experience doing that - moving from the Vietnam-war era systems custom-built at each Army supply command and Depot to the "new" Army-wide standard Wholesale and Depot systems, and then doing major upgrades as functionality was added or public law and Army/DoD policy changes required major changes. Along the way, Unix and other mini-computer systems, as well as PC's, were added to the original mainframe system with it's custom-written DBMS specifically designed for the hierarchical nature of supply data.

    GAO has some valid criticisms of the whole mess but, typical of GAO, still doesn't understand major computer systems after 40-50 years of auditing them, and misses many things done wrong, and completely misunderstands the legitimate reasons the process was going to take that long whether well or badly managed.

    My perspective on all this is as a programmer, analyst, and team leader for 3 years helping to develop, implement, and run one of the Vietnam-era systems for one of the Army supply commands, then the same for the new AMC-developed Army-wide standard system for 30+ years, then finally working for CSC for 10 years maintaining the Wholesale legacy system and, occasionally, working on the new SAP (LMP) system in minor ways. An "insider" perspective, for sure.

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