United States Air Force Spends $1 Billion On Software System Now Declared Utter Failure

210px-Seal_of_the_US_Air_Force.svgWe have been discussing how the U.S. military continues to waste billions with little accountability for failed programs or unneeded equipment. This includes tens of billions wasted in our ongoing wars. Much of this waste or lost resources has been covered up by intentional accounting tricks. No one appears to be disciplined, let alone fired, for billions of lost money and over-charges. And the beat goes on. The Senate Armed Services Committee has decided to actually investigate waste and is looking into a failed $1 billion software project for the U.S. Air Force that was implemented by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. It was scrapped after it was disclosed that we would have to spend an additional $1.1 billion just to fix the unused system.

The Expeditionary Combat Support System was heralded as a “revolutionary” supply-chain management system that was sold to the people over at the Pentagon who did what they often do: poured money into an inoperative system with no one taking responsibility to actually stop program. Instead, they acted like Las Vegas gambler given an open marker by the house.

In the end, the Pentagon contractors and officials informed Congress that it would require $1.1 billion and eight years beyond the planned rollout date to fix the system. So we scrapped it. Another one billion evaporates and Pentagon officials just move on to the next program. No one is fired. No one is prosecuted.

By the way, this is just one of nine massive software systems ordered by the Pentagon, and six are running as late as 12 years beyond their planned rollout date. Twelve years. How many companies would tolerate such epic fails? The problem is that the military budget remains politically insulated from major cuts and Pentagon planners remains insulated from accountability for such failures.

It is also worth noting that, while it is remarkable to see the Senate moving on an issue of waste (though this is not wasteful manufacturing usually protected by members), the obscene waste in this program was reported in 2010 — three years ago.

Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Davis has publicly comforted the members, stating “I can understand the senators’ frustration. I can understand the fact that a billion-plus of taxpayer’s money went to essentially nothing.” Well, that makes me feel much better. We are cutting educational, scientific, and social programs for lack of a few million dollars but when a billion dollar is simply torched by the Air Force, General Davis understands our frustration.

The contractor responsible for this debacle is Computer Sciences of Falls Church, Virginia. The company received hundreds of millions of dollars and was has been cited for “poor schedule performance.” For most people, “poor schedule performance” results in missing meetings or a delay of weeks on a project. In the Pentagon, it results in years of delay and a billion dollars of waste.

Source: Bloomberg

29 thoughts on “United States Air Force Spends $1 Billion On Software System Now Declared Utter Failure

  1. This kind of waste will continue if we do not downsize government and take away their money. As long as the money is there, government will spend it and waste it without concern. Vote lower taxes all the time. Take away their money.

    What we really should do is just make a flat 10% simple tax on individual income without any laws about deductions. Anything above that can be solicited voluntarily through advertisement, the same way all charities work. The State collects all the tax and the federal government receives the tax from the States.

  2. David,
    You still don’t get it. It is not a matter of money. The money is needed, but not for these projects. If you read reports from highway engineers, wastewater management, and other necessary infrastructure experts, the money is needed. It is a matter of priorities. Budgets are already cut to the bone, but the military sucks up a huge percentage of it. We are not about to fight WW-III, but are arming as if we were. We don’t NEED airplanes like the F-35, or a dozen aircraft carriers that cost many millions per week to operate.

    That money being spent on hardware for the military could be better spent on our crumbling infrastructure, social programs, and health care for the needy.

    I repeat, it is a matter of priorities.

    • OS wrote: “You still don’t get it.”

      Or maybe you don’t get it. I understand that you have at times earned your living from government collected taxes, so it may be difficult for you to understand what I am saying. Your sentiments have been compromised.

      OS wrote: “That money being spent on hardware for the military could be better spent on our crumbling infrastructure, social programs, and health care for the needy.”

      There is waste in these programs too. The root cause of the waste is spending money that has not been earned. When a person earns the money he is spending, he spends it more carefully. Most people who win the lottery become very wasteful spenders.

      We need government, but we don’t need a government that spends a third of everyone’s income. Ten percent is all they need to get done everything that needs to get done. That’s my opinion, and to be truthful, I think the most ideal for a truly evolved society is to have all taxes be voluntary. People give to support the needs rather than have the money taken from us by force. We might not be ready for that yet, but we need to move that direction, and that only happens by lowering taxes not raising taxes. The truth is that the more taxes are raised, the more government corruption and waste we will observe.

  3. Here is the updated 2013 version of the PowerPoint presentation “Shift Happens.” The original version was created in 2006 by teacher Karl Fisch for a faculty meeting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, CO. In 2007 the slide show was made into a video for YouTube and went viral. Some history of the presentation at this link:
    http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/

  4. What we really should do is just make a flat 10% simple tax on individual income without any laws about deductions. Anything above that can be solicited voluntarily through advertisement, the same way all charities work. The State collects all the tax and the federal government receives the tax from the States.

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