Air Force scraps massive ERP project after racking up $1 billion in costs

The Expeditionary Combat Support System 'has not yielded any significant military capability'

By , IDG News Service |  Software, ERP, Oracle

A wing of a U.S. Air Force U2 reconnaissance aircraft downed by the Soviets in Cuba in 1962 is displayed along with other Soviet-made Cold War relics at La Cabana fortress in Havana

REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

The U.S. Air Force has decided to scrap a major ERP (enterprise resource planning) software project after spending $1 billion, concluding that finishing it would cost far too much more money for too little gain.

Dubbed the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), the project has racked up $1.03 billion in costs since 2005, "and has not yielded any significant military capability," an Air Force spokesman said in an emailed statement Wednesday. "We estimate it would require an additional $1.1B for about a quarter of the original scope to continue and fielding would not be until 2020. The Air Force has concluded the ECSS program is no longer a viable option for meeting the FY17 Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) statutory requirement. Therefore, we are cancelling the program and moving forward with other options in order to meet both requirements."

The Air Force will instead need to use its "existing and modified logistics systems for 2017 audit compliance," the statement adds.

Air Force officials restructured the program three times within the past three years, and ultimately determined the military division "will be better served by developing an entirely new strategy versus revamping the ECSS system of record again," it states.

The system dates back to 2005, when Oracle won an $88.5 million software contract, securing the deal over rival SAP and other vendors. It was supposed to replace more than 200 legacy systems. CSC had served as a systems integrator on the project, until its contract was terminated in March, according to an Air Force spokesman. An Oracle spokeswoman declined comment on Wednesday.

CSC "completed work on the ECSS contract in April," a spokeswoman said in a statement. "The Air Force's recent ECSS program announcement has no impact on CSC or its employees."

ECSS' demise had been foreshadowed for some time, with Air Force officials publicly stating they were assessing their options, and others openly bemoaning the project's failings.

Military officials' decision to stop the project now drew a stinging rebuke from analyst Michael Krigsman, CEO of consulting firm Asuret and an expert on IT project failures.

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