Intercepts

THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES. That's the message coming from dozens of Standard Procurement System users that officials at the Defense Logistics Agency and American Management Systems Inc. don't want you to hear.Shortly after the appearance of our front-page story on SPS in the Aug. 2 issue of FCW, my e-mail and voice mail began to overflow with messages from responsible, yet nervous, SPS users in the field. Regardless of how many times SPS program officials tout the capabilities of the latest version of SPS and accuse the system's detractors of basing their criticisms on "outdated information," users in the field have one message for the Infiltrator: SPS doesn't work.

In fact, several sources question AMS' claim that 13,000 users are up and running on SPS and have challenged the Infiltrator to go out and visit some of the sites where SPS is installed. According to these sources, users across the country would be happy to show me how SPS' complexity actually has reduced the number of contracts they can complete per day - from eight to two.

With another $100 million being requested by the SPS program office for additional SPS development work, the only advice I can give to those who fear they are wandering "the road to SPS nirvana" alone is: Don't trip over the bodies.

***

ROBBING PETER TO PAY PAUL. A former EA-6B Prowler pilot sent a letter to the Infiltrator disagreeing with the results of Navy Adm. Joseph Prueher's investigation into the 1998 accident involving a Marine Corps EA-6B jet and an Italian ski gondola that killed 20 people. According to the pilot, the Navy and Marine Corps' fleet of Prowlers are in desperate need of IT modernization. However, more high-profile programs like the Air Force's F-22 have drained much-needed money out of DOD's modernization coffers, the former pilot argued. In fact, many EA-6B pilots "have purchased off-the-shelf handheld civilian [Global Positioning Systems], oftentimes out of their own pockets," he said. "Unfortunately, these systems are best suited to assist lost campers navigating in the woods, not aviators flying at 540 knots through mountainous terrain," the letter stated.

Fortunately, EA-6B pilots may have a friend these days in Congress, which recently placed the F-22 and some other high-dollar DOD programs in a deep freeze.

***

HELP WANTED. President Clinton is looking for a talented mid-career military professional who would be willing to take on the challenge of being program examiner for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence programs throughout the Defense Department and intelligence communities. While the perfect candidate would be somebody who is familiar with DOD and intelligence IT issues and is skilled in financial and economic analysis, we would recommend a lifetime subscription to Federal Computer Week to help you navigate through the maze of three-letter acronyms. If FCW is not enough to keep you ahead of the curve, try mailing this Chinese proverb to the program offices of DOD's most problematic IT endeavors: "Of all the stratagems, to know when to quit is the best." Those of you with a taste for adventure can call (202) 606-2700 to request application forms.

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