The Pentagon's Messy Backoffice


The Pentagon has backoffice problems. Over the last decade, the Pentagon has spent $19B dollars in creating numerous systems to help manage accounting and logistics at the Dept. of Defense and things are still broken.

Some outside analysts see the inefficiency as an unfortunate but necessary consequence of the Pentagon's enormous commitments and largely successful track record. But others think the Defense Department could handle its operations a whole lot better.

"If you ran your business this way, you'd be in jail," said Christopher Hellman, an analyst with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
From Wired News: Data Nightmare at Pentagon
Referenced Thu Jul 08 2004 16:26:04 GMT-0400

The problem is that the Pentagon isn't a business. It's a government agency. I found out, some would say too late, that there's a difference. The difference is in motivation. Government agencies are mission oriented, not profit oriented. The Pentagon does not see its job as being efficient. That's not to say that they don't think its important to be efficient, but there's no natural driver in that direction.

There's no doubt that where the military sees information systems as critical to their mission, that they can develop and deliver effective systems to the task. They do it time and time again. The irony, for me, is that these backoffice systems may be the key to fighting in the future. As we move our defense priorities to defending vulnerabilities, the inventory, supply and logistics expertise and efficiency may be as important to our defense as more offensive capabilities. I predict that when they become mission critical, these systems will get cleaned up in a hurry.