Executive Briefings

Report Details Costly, Failed Air Force Logistics Project

Muddled governance, ineffective change management and revolving door leadership were among the forces leading to last year's demise of a costly and high-stakes Air Force logistics modernization program, according to newly released findings from an internal inquiry.

Report Details Costly, Failed Air Force Logistics Project

The Air Force canceled the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) last November after spending $1bn for what one top manager termed "negligible" capability. But the acquisition review team offers a more upbeat take, concluding that much of the work done on the system "can be reused."

The ECSS "wasn't the failure people think it was," the team adds. "It was the first step to truly understanding the enormous task the Air Force has ahead of itself."

The undated executive summary was released this month by the Senate Armed Services Committee to Federal Times. After the cancellation, the committee's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and the top Republican at the time, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, demanded answers on what had gone wrong, what options the Air Force was considering to replace the ECSS and how the Defense Department would take into account the failure of the prime contractor, Virginia-based Computer Sciences Corp., to perform as required when awarding future contracts.

But while the Pentagon responded in March, neither Levin's office nor DoD officials would release the answers (apart from a cover letter) because the Pentagon opted to stamp them "For Official Use Only."

Levin specifically asked the Pentagon to drop the FOUO marking so the committee could make the full response public; the Defense Department instead said that it was not releasable "due to its contents," Tara Andringa, a  Levin spokeswoman, said in an email. Defense officials did permit release of the summary of the review team's final report.

The report highlights four contributing causes and six root causes behind the program's failure. One problem was getting "buy-in" from a user community fearful of how the ECSS would affect them personally. As time went on, the lack of effective change management got worse "because the lack of successful implementation signaled to the field that Expeditionary Combat Support System was not worth supporting," the report says.

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The Air Force canceled the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) last November after spending $1bn for what one top manager termed "negligible" capability. But the acquisition review team offers a more upbeat take, concluding that much of the work done on the system "can be reused."

The ECSS "wasn't the failure people think it was," the team adds. "It was the first step to truly understanding the enormous task the Air Force has ahead of itself."

The undated executive summary was released this month by the Senate Armed Services Committee to Federal Times. After the cancellation, the committee's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and the top Republican at the time, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, demanded answers on what had gone wrong, what options the Air Force was considering to replace the ECSS and how the Defense Department would take into account the failure of the prime contractor, Virginia-based Computer Sciences Corp., to perform as required when awarding future contracts.

But while the Pentagon responded in March, neither Levin's office nor DoD officials would release the answers (apart from a cover letter) because the Pentagon opted to stamp them "For Official Use Only."

Levin specifically asked the Pentagon to drop the FOUO marking so the committee could make the full response public; the Defense Department instead said that it was not releasable "due to its contents," Tara Andringa, a  Levin spokeswoman, said in an email. Defense officials did permit release of the summary of the review team's final report.

The report highlights four contributing causes and six root causes behind the program's failure. One problem was getting "buy-in" from a user community fearful of how the ECSS would affect them personally. As time went on, the lack of effective change management got worse "because the lack of successful implementation signaled to the field that Expeditionary Combat Support System was not worth supporting," the report says.

Read Full Article

Report Details Costly, Failed Air Force Logistics Project