Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm trying to figure out how this is "news".

The FBI's troubled new system designed to help agents and analysts electronically handle evidence, reports and documents is now about $100 million over budget and two years behind schedule...
Wow, a government program over budget and behind schedule? Who could have seen that coming?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, government CAN run health care!

Yes we can!

Shootin' Buddy

West, By God said...

Also... A software project that is over budget and behind schedule? I'm shocked!

Tam said...

A government software project probably exerts sufficient distortion on the flow of time that watches run measurably slower three office buildings away.

morlock said...

funny, since this project is the replace virtual case file , which was scrapped when it was (shocker) over budget and behind schedule.....

Matt G said...

"A government software project probably exerts sufficient distortion on the flow of time that watches run measurably slower three office buildings away."

Which, according to my understanding of relativity, means that the rest of the world not associated with centralized government is moving at speeds approaching c, comparitively.

Mike W. said...

The minute we find one that's on schedule and under budget we'll have some real news.

Fat chance that'll ever happen though. This is government we're talking about.

D.W. Drang said...

Mike W.: There was one, but the PIO was axed for being over-budget...

Tirno said...

Mike: Mine were.

Back in the days when I was a systems acquisition officer for the USAF (2001-2004), I was handed the "science projects" laundry list of thing AFWA wanted to do.

I conspired with the contracting officer, found some useful sections of the FAR to adapt to our purposes, wrote the requirements, solicited the bids, send the anonymized technical plan to be blind reviewed, selected the winners and managed the execution. I had one (1) incident where the contractor's lead scientist didn't deliver an interim report on time, and we jumped on that contractor with both feet early and didn't miss a milestone again.

Because of the way that I competed the projects, we actually came in under the estimated budget, so I got to award extra projects to fully allocate the programmed budget. So you could either consider me under budget for a certain set of requirements delivered, or over-delivering for a specific budget.

One of the last things I did before I left that job was to brief a new commander on the state of my programs. When I finished, he said, "I think that's the longest briefing anyone has ever given to tell me they're on time and on budget." And I thought... That's just the situational awareness necessary to keep this program on-time and on-budget. You think this happened by accident?

Alan said...

"Unexpectedly" should be in there somewhere.

Jack said...

That's peanuts compared to the useless two billion dollar Canadian firearms registry.

Lissa said...

To borrow from Bruce --

This is my shocked face:

:-|

Bram said...

Mike W. - I was thinking the same thing. That would be some shocking news.

Brad K. said...

Back in the day, DoD-Std-2167a was a process for procuring software. I was told at one point that the program was deliberately set to take more than three years for any project, any at all. That way, the O-6 officer assigned to the project at the beginning would have been rotated to a new assignment before the end.

Which meant that no officer would have the start and the end - the whole project - listing him as the one responsible.

Thus careers, and at times the nation, were served.

- - -

I served on the precommissioning crew of the USS South Carolina, DLGN-37 (later changed to CGN-37, 'cause the Russians didn't have frigates at the time) while construction was still being done. Much of the delays and overruns on the ship happened when the Government changed the requirements. Others happened because some requirements didn't show up as too stupid to let pass, until they were constructed and tested. The procurement process emphasized tracking communications, not encouraging feedback and exchange of useful information. There was a distinct "chilling effect" with regard to what could be communicated to the customer or the contractor. Even if everyone had been working to the same goal.

(The USS South Carolina was mothballed when the nuclear power reactors needed refueled, rather than refueling the ship. Go figure.)

My 17 years experience in scientific programming was pretty similar, when the government was the customer. One project was so "important" you had to quit or die to get off the project. I quit, after the first two guys died in my first couple of months on that project. I recall one document was late by a year. I was asked to complete it - when I reported it would be a while, since several (merely technical) sections were incomplete in the (technical) document - they instead handed it back to the original author.

Stretch said...

The most infuriating thing 'bout this is there are COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) products that will do everything the F.B.I. needs. That L-M is involved is no surprise. They haven't delivered anything on time/budget since NASA's glory days. And there's a reason they have more lawyers on staff than any other technical beltway bandit.

Brad K. said...

@ Stretch,

Now, be kind. L-M is often rated very efficient at spending program money.

Tirno said...

Stretch, you only think that because you misconstrue what product L-M actually provides. I infer that you think they're supposed to deliver aircraft, electronics, and similar things. Those things are only secondary products.

The primary product of L-M, Raytheon, N-G, Boeing (gov/mil), and Halliburton is putting up with government nonsense.

Just like the tax code supports a tax preparation industry, and the immigration system supports a specialty legal industry, and the environmental laws support an environmental compliance industry, the FAR supports the existence of the big military/industrial complex players. The complexity and the practical execution experience makes a very high barrier to entry for new players. If you got a product the the government wants to procure, your lifeis significantly simmer if you can arrange for one of the big players to be the prime contractor and your concern to be a sole subcontractor.

Tirno said...

In other news, commenting on a blogpost from an iPhone is fraught with auto-complete fail.

Comrade Misfit said...

The FBI has screwed up far more than one program to upgrade its computer systems. By now, they've probably blown through a billion dollars since they first began the projects 20 or so years ago.

I'd not be surprised if they were still using manual typewriters. Like the NYPD.

Firehand said...

Comrade is right, they can't even keep the systems they HAVE running right. Several years ago somebody effed up part of a program, and it would no longer let agencies enter a stolen outboard motor properly. People found out and informed them of the problem, they agreed it was on their end and said "We'll get it fixed."

Last I heard that was almost FOUR YEARS AGO and they still haven't fixed it.