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Air Force's $1 billion IT system has ‘negligible' capability, comptroller says

Apr. 19, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
The Expeditionary Combat Support System was supposed to save billions of dollars by streamlining the Air Force's supply chain management and providing an integrated approach for buying, moving and managing equipment.
The Expeditionary Combat Support System was supposed to save billions of dollars by streamlining the Air Force's supply chain management and providing an integrated approach for buying, moving and managing equipment. (Air Force)

A seven-year, billion dollar investment by the Air Force in a new logistics management system has turned out to be a bust, officials say.

"I am personally appalled at the limited capabilities that program has produced relative to that amount of investment," Air Force Comptroller Jamie Morin told the Senate Armed Services readiness and management support subcommittee on Wednesday.

The Air Force is now trying to sort out what can be salvaged from its investment on the Expeditionary Combat Support System and map out a way forward in a new report likely to be delivered to Congress next month.

The system is supposed to save billions of dollars by streamlining the Air Force's supply chain management and providing an integrated approach for buying, moving and managing equipment. In an interview after the hearing, Morin described the new system's "usable capability" as "negligible."

"The contractor performance and management of the system have not been up to standard," Morin said. "It's disappointing to have to restructure a system this far into a program with so much expended."

The lead contractor for the system is Computer Sciences Corp. "CSC demonstrated success in meeting all the major milestones and commitments for the first four years," company spokeswoman Heather Williams said in an email but offered no explanation of what happened after that.

The system's failures are one reason the Air Force is at "moderate risk" of failing to meet deadlines to clean up its financial books, Morin said. The 2010 Defense Authorization Act requires that all military financial statements be fully auditable by fiscal 2017.

Last fall, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta upped the pressure by declaring that one set of financial records the Statement of Budgetary Resources, which shows the flow of money in and out of the Defense Department meet the audit target by fiscal 2014.

"I am reasonably confident that we will meet out goals," DoD Comptroller Robert Hale said at the same hearing. Army and Navy financial managers also voiced optimism.

In addition to problems plaguing its business systems, the Air Force is struggling to find employees with needed skills, Morin said.

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