Personal Experience & Forecast
by Don Chapin, Capt., USAF, Ret’d, Jan 13, 2018
Editor’s note, 5/10/18: The original PDF file in this post has been replaced with a new version updated by Don Chapin.
As the Senior Engineer/Deputy Program Manager for an Advanced Development Program Office (ADPO) within the Flight Dynamics Laboratory at Wright Patterson AFB outside of Dayton, Ohio, I had direct administrative implementation and control over a $3.2M contract plus oversight over all other programs in that office. The total of about $4.2M in the early ‘70s was a fair piece of change at that time, although well below Congress’ “oversight,” which didn’t get below a $1B figure. The $3.2M contract I had placed with McDonnell-Douglas in Long Beach, CA, required what was considered by the DoD as advanced financial control under a concept acronymed as CSSR.
At some point after I had awarded the contract, the DoD sent financial ‘trainers’ around to provide instruction to larger-contract administrators on an update/replacement to the CSSR, which took over a half day to attend. At the end of the presentation, I had only one question to ask of the presenter: “O.K., the current CSSR concept relies heavily on the government Program Manager relying on his/her civilian contract counterpart for basic contract expense forecasting, and the revised/updated CSSR concept relies heavily on his/her civilian contract counterpart for basic contract expense forecasting before incorporating a ‘mess’ of additional arithmetic, so what’s the real difference between the two concepts and the advantage of the new concept, besides requiring more work to look more impressive?” The presenter’s response? “I wasn’t supposed to have a ‘ringer’ in this pitch.” There were no more questions from anyone else.
In other words, that was the whole DoD approach…razzle-dazzle to imply “control” like a circus sideshow barker’s presentation.
Prior to this ADPO assignment, I worked in the F-111 aircraft System Program Office (SPO) where, after some effort, I had uncovered a situation that proved the prime contractor was charging the government 10 times what they paid for certain cockpit hardware, with absolutely NO ‘value added’ by the prime contractor…potentially worth a few million dollars to the government. I provided all the evidence to the SPO contracting office and later found that my efforts were in vain as that item had simply been negotiated in a “block trade-off” with the prime contractor, i.e., no recognition of “individual item” $ magnitude. Government personnel Inefficiency/ Ineptitude? Lack of interest? Insufficient training? No contest against the prime contractor “negotiation sharks.” 🙂
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), like many other rational individuals and organizations, has advocated for many years an independent audit of the Pentagon Budget, (ref. FCNL Dec ’17 Newsletter, especially the outlined paragraphs on second page) but has NEVER been successful at getting such a huge effort initiated until fairly recently, where just the tip of this effort is beginning to reveal some highly questionable situations. See “Army Finds $830 Million In ‘Missing’ Helicopters As First Ever Audit Begins.”
As this first-ever audit proceeds, I see MANY behind-the-scenes (i.e., absolutely NO main-stream-media/MSM reporting allowed) “negotiations”/discussions between the auditors, ranking DoD personnel and politicians over what is to be “released,” with the concept of “transparency” and the public’s “need to know” being shredded in secret. Look to whistleblowers leaking to independent internet media as information sources, and potentially additional heavy persecution of revealed whistleblowers as a result.