I don’t believe in Friday the 13th

So what is today’s date, then?


  1. It’s been bad luck for LockMart. What a bunch of bs! If a company can’t get any closer on their weight estimate than a factor of 2, what the hell are we paying them for? Might as well pull your Brazilian built airplane into a high school auto shop and give them a crack at it. ‘Oops, we underestimated the size of the airplane – BY A FACTOR OF 2! If you give us more money for a bigger airplane and over twice as much for integration, we might be able to give you what you want.’ Then they were terminated for convenience! Meaning they get a huge termination fee as a reward for their incompetence. Your tax dollars at work. Hell, Cunningham didn’t admit to wasting as much money and he’ll probably get jail time. Oh, and don’t feel sorry for Grumman. Their lie wasn’t as big, so they lost, but their proposal was a pack of lies too. That’s the way it’s done. Now get to work so you can pay more taxes!

  2. Dfens – this sounds like an example of two competing bids, one of which is good and the other of which is flawed but cheaper (in this case, flawed because of the underestimation of weight), and as usual they went with the cheapest option and didn’t find out about flaws until later. I’d call that a lack of due diligence. I’d like to hear the explanation of how they made a mistake like that…

  3. As I understand it, the Gulfstream G450 doesn’t have any more payload capacity than the Embraer ERJ-145. It has a little more range, and it is, at least, built in the US. You’ve got to understand the process to understand how screwed up things are. In order for there to be a program in the first place, the DoD group trying to get it going relies on the contractors to lie about cost, schedule, and performance. If they don’t, the program never gets funded in the first place and there is nothing to bid on. Once the RFP (request for proposal) is released, the proposal itself is liar’s poker. You tell the biggest lie you can get away with, because if you don’t, you won’t win. There is no down side to lying, because the government will cover for you later to prevent the program from being cancelled. After all, if it is cancelled, their careers are over.

  4. He’s lying! I’M SAL MINIO!! posted by James Hooker Been lookin for you Sal, baby. signed, Mack the Knife

  5. Dfens – don’t ask me how I know all this stuff (maybe from watching episodes of Yes Minister and extrapolating to how bad the DoD must be) but I’m well aware that’s the way things are. Since contracts are ‘cost plus’, there’s no incentive to be honest about the price up-front. Since there’s no incentive, the contractors who can lie best and quote the lowest price while still promising to deliver the goods gets the contract. If it was a real, honest-to-god contract where the contractor got a fixed amount of money and had to deliver the goods or else, they would all go bankrupt overnight because they’re so bad at it. Which is why they don’t do that. Or at least, back when they used to do that, the companies HAD to get assistance when they screwed up, or else not only would the military not get their new toy, but the contractors would go out of business. I’m starting to think that would have been good thing – new companies who knew how to build stuff properly and charge the right amount would have filled the gaps. But I guess they were worried that might not happen, hence the mollycoddling and the current pathological system. Am I right? I think the answer is somewhere inbetween. Fixed-price contracts, where the DoD will bail them out if they screw up (and don’t screw up so badly to completely queer the deal), but in which case their profit is the first thing to go down to a small, token level. They wouldn’t go out of business, and they would learn quickly, believe me. Nobody at a company would be popular if they screwed up so bad they lost big juicy profits. They’d find managers who could actually get the job done, since their success would once again depend on it.

  6. It is a common misconception that this is an issue regarding firm fixed vs. cost plus contracts. The problem is, regardless of the type of contract, the DoD and Congress ‘fix things’ so the contractor never over runs. This is something that is too complicated for your typical news reporter, but here’s the deal. When you see that Congress has cut the funding for a program, you think, ‘great, that company is going to get it now for screwing up.’ What you don’t realize is the funding profile is part of the contract. When Congress cuts the funding, they are, in effect, authorizing a contract change. When the change is made, the cost over run from the previous year is erased, and generally the overall cost of the contract is significantly increased. That’s how these programs get to be so expensive. You never hear of a contractor over running, yet the cost of the contracts explodes – like F-22 did. Haven’t you ever wondered how that happens? By the way, a cost plus contract caps the over run amount at 50% of the original contract value. Also, they contractor doesn’t make profit on the over run amount. If they do things the way I described above, they make profit on the full amount, including the over run. Oh, and they also get put back on schedule. The new schedule is part of the contract change too.

  7. Hmm, I was wrong. The Embraer will carry 10,000 lbs, and the Gulfstream max is 6,000. So was Lockmart the lesser liar? The key is to lie just the right amount. Not too much or your proposal has no credibility, but not too little or you lose the competition. Hey, I didn’t say it was easy, just wrong.