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US Air Force Scraps ERP Project After $1 Billion Spent

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the on-second-thought dept.

Software 362

angry tapir writes "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 a statement. '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 canceling the program and moving forward with other options in order to meet both requirements.'"

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362 comments

New project (5, Funny)

Director of Acronyms (232303) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988755)

I'd like to see them implement a CRM system instead

Re:New project (5, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988799)

I'd like to see them implement a CRM system instead

Are the victims of drone attacks complaining much about the quality of service?

Re:New project (4, Funny)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989011)

If they are, they should: if a drone fired at them can't take 'em out, something's not working correctly. /* Note: I'm not for drone strikes, necessarily, but, dammit, if you're targeting something, you'd better take it TF out. */

Re:New project (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989049)

Are the victims of drone attacks complaining much about the quality of service?

Most drone attacks are done by the CIA, not the Air Force. If the Air Force launched the attacks, the results could be second guessed by CIA analysts evaluating satellite photos. But if the CIA both launches the attacks and evaluates the results, it is all wrapped up in a neat little package with no loose strings of accountability.

There IS accountability (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989263)

Obama is in charge... the buck stops with him; he's the one who brags about his "kill list"... Oh, wait, this is Slashdot... Obama has a GREAT smile and a cool attitude and nobody is to blame for the drone strikes. Move along, nothing to see here. Dick Cheney is retired so there is no evil to be denounced.

Re:There IS accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989549)

Obama is in charge... the buck stops with him; he's the one who brags about his "kill list"... Oh, wait, this is Slashdot... Obama has a GREAT smile and a cool attitude and nobody is to blame for the drone strikes. Move along, nothing to see here. Dick Cheney is retired so there is no evil to be denounced.

You forgot to mention Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.

Re:New project (4, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988817)

CRM? Good idea. Then the Air Force can keep better track of its customer data like which Buckwhupistani wedding received a Predator strike package and which one got a JDAM shower and so on.

Re:New project (4, Funny)

jhoegl (638955) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988901)

A gift is a gift!

Re:New project (4, Funny)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988957)

just be thankful the Buckwhupistani's don't return the gifts

Re:New project (5, Insightful)

Antonovich (1354565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989343)

Don't worry, such gifts are remembered for many generations - the Buckwhupistanis will likely return the gifts at some point... That's just the cost of being so generous.

Re:New project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988967)

More like a gift to the folks those people were going to blow up later.

Average civilian death rate over the course of the drone program in Pakistan is 16%. During Obama's presidency, 10-12%. As of July, according to NYT, Reuters, etc., the estimated civilian death rate is now, "at or close to zero."

But, you know, whatever gets you riled up.

Re:New project (4, Funny)

wooferhound (546132) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989067)

This project has grown too big to fail . . .

Re:New project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989421)

secession from IT?

Ouch. (4, Interesting)

Sorthum (123064) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988759)

Seems that this is a common theme with ERP rollouts-- scope creep tends to get them all in the end. Granted, most organizations seem to wave off long before the $1 billion mark...

Re:Ouch. (5, Informative)

Sorthum (123064) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988765)

Oh wow, it gets worse. Oracle won this with a $88.5 million bid; what the hell took the Air Force so long to pull the plug with that kind of overrun?

Re:Ouch. (5, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988945)

I love how each branch of the DoD gets to pick it's own ERP solution. It says Oracle won it over SAP, not that i have a preference but SAP has a showing of being successful in the market via is use in the Navy. With all ERP solutions there are going to be issues, but overall the Navy has been very successful with their SAP deployment.

Again, why isn't this pushed from the top of the DoD vs. every branch figuring it out and reinventing the wheel each time?

Re:Ouch. (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989007)

One has to wonder if the Navy was all that successful or just willing to handle a portion of the job, or willing to settle for half the result.

You will never know, because those who do have too much ass to cover, and they will be slipping in fixes and upgrades for decades, before deciding the whole thing is too top heavy.

Systems of this size are grandiose and seldom successful. Not only government fails at systems this big, private industry does as well. But private industry learns from their costly mistakes faster. Google is a good example. They hold a house cleaning each spring and just arbitrarily kill off projects that have no chance of a ROI.

Its amazing that two world wars were fought with this kind of stuff being handled by people.

Re:Ouch. (3, Informative)

Amouth (879122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989071)

I fully understand where you are coming from, and i can't answer for the Navy on the system as a whole, but i will say their implementation PM (Plant Maintenance) portion of SAP is a very good example of a very functional implementation that is very effective at doing it's job.

Re:Ouch. (0, Redundant)

nateb (59324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989557)

"Its" is possessive.

That is all.

Re:Ouch. (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989367)

One has to wonder if the Navy was all that successful or just willing to handle a portion of the job, or willing to settle for half the result.

I'd settle for half the result within budget over getting to 1200% of budget and being told that you're not even half way towards getting a quarter of the result.

Sipping the Kool-Aid (3, Interesting)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989349)

I wouldn't be surprised that the DoD is encouraging this. In this way, each branch picks their own solution because they need to satisfy so many domestic "interests". (Yes, SAP America contributes to political campaigns and PACs, just like every other large ERP company in the US). Besides, the only reason that anyone has been successful is probably because they are sipping more Kool-Aid and sitting in a circle "reassuring" one another.

Re:Ouch. (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988959)

aaahh... so that's what it takes to be one of the big four

Re:Ouch. (1)

Jessified (1150003) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988991)

I just wish they'd pay me $1 billion to tell them something's not going to work out. Plus I bet I could do it in half the time.

Re:Ouch. (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989027)

This is perfect - fucking perfect! They got that far into it, all that mad bank, and no long-term responsibility for actual delivery, support, upgrades, roll-out, etc. Steve Miller: Go on, take the money and run. Day-um, someone gonna get a bonus at Oracle!

Re:Ouch. (5, Funny)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989035)

Oh wow, it gets worse. Oracle won this with a $88.5 million bid; what the hell took the Air Force so long to pull the plug with that kind of overrun?

What's an order of magnitude between friends. :p

Re:Ouch. (4, Informative)

purpledinoz (573045) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989185)

Did anyone also do a double-take on this story? $1B spent on software, and nothing to show for it? Let's say you pay a developer $100K/year, and the project lasted 10 years. That's 1000 developers working on this for 10 years! And after this, nothing to show for it? That's probably the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a while... I wonder if a big chunk of this money went to crony suppliers like Halliburton.

ERP is dead! (1, Insightful)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989327)

ERP is dead--especially for very large, agile institutions. The only people that don't think so are companies, like Oracle, that are pretending that it can scale to large institutions with some sort of economy of scale, let alone ones that probably make many changes. The fact that it took the Air Force an extra $900+ million to realize this is shameful. Especially since institutions like the Air Force are probably better off looking at agile and adaptive front-end software (it's not just the Marines that are supposed to "improvise, overcome, and adapt") like their equivalent to CRM, project planning, mobile maintenance, and whatever else they do.

What a waste of time, money, and resources. Truly shameful!!!

Re:ERP is dead! (3, Informative)

raftpeople (844215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989359)

In what sense do you think ERP is dead? The functions are all required and if you buy best of breed individual packages, you still need to integrate them, so either you do it yourself or you buy the ERP package that is already integrated.

I agree that some decisions can be made to break it up into manageable pieces and accept less efficiency, but with an organization of that size you still have a problem of complexity whether using an ERP package or creating point solutions and integrating them.

Why? Becasue people know it sucks. (3, Interesting)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989433)

ERP is dead because word is on the street: Too many failed or seriously delayed implementations.
I have seen (first hand) too many institutions decide to implement ERP, pay a tremendous amount of cash, and watch it fail. If it ever does get fully implemented (in a way that was originally envisioned) the institutions have spent so much time and effort to get it running that the institutions have lost their focus because senior management was distracted or the cost of full implementation has affected the bottom line. In some cases, the institution was irreparably damaged or failed.(often surpassed by their competition).

In theory, ERP is a wonderful thing. In actuality, it can kill.

Re:Ouch. (3, Funny)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988793)

Wow. I guess that this is a new record, eclipsing even the FBI's failure from a couple of years ago. Have to say, I am impressed. Leave it to the Pentagram to do things bigger and worse than anyone else on the planet.

Re:Ouch. (3, Informative)

LeperPuppet (1591409) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988885)

Granted, most organizations seem to wave off long before the $1 billion mark...

Most organisations aren't connected to the DoD's endless money spigot.

Re:Ouch. (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989033)

They're probably kicking themselves for that, too.

Re:Ouch. (4, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989081)

Seriously, has there EVER been an ERP implementation that was anything other than a colossal fuckup? Way behind schedule, overbudget, and not functioning properly are the general themes of ERP. And businesses continue to fall for this scam.

Re:Ouch. (3, Insightful)

aXis100 (690904) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989117)

That's because it's usually the head of the accounting department that gets to approve it. Farking ridiculous.

Re:Ouch. (1)

bmimatt (1021295) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989253)

That's because no one can properly spec the thing out.

Re:Ouch. (4, Insightful)

raftpeople (844215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989293)

Most of the ERP implementations I have been part of have been successful. Every major corporation has a working ERP system, how do you think that happened?

There are big failures, typically in situations where the size of the project exceeds the experience and capabilities of the people managing them. With something as big as the DoD, there just aren't too many opportunities for anyone to gain the proper experience to know how to make it successful. Something like that needs to be broken into much smaller pieces and you just have to forego some of the efficiencies of a completely integrated non-redundant system in favor of more manageable pieces.

Re:Ouch. (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989333)

Well, the software that I provide has ERP elements. I wouldn't know what ERP is for military, but I do understand what it is for retail and partially for medical field (dentistry so far).

This is part of my software suite, most of it is analytics, supply chain management, customer relationship management but some of it is planning the resources (but not as an abstract idea that allows to "plan everything", more like planning of the necessary parts, that I determine to be the most important for survival and growth of business). If something can be left outside of the system I don't touch it, I only look at things for which I have enough data and understanding of process and where the return is actually worth it, worth building it, worth training for it, worth paying for it.

There are things like that, but again, I don't believe in all encompassing ERP systems that allow you to do everything and include everything, even the kitchen sink.

I say only build things that actually help business and nothing more and charge a little for it, not millions. I end up charging a few thousand dollars per medium sized organisation per month (like a retail chain), they get everything I can provide but it is what is tested that actually is useful at the end.

So it depends whether the contract is to strip you naked or to give you something that will help your business because it also helps my business.

Of-course in case of gov't (military) they are nearly made of other people's money.

Re:Ouch. (4, Informative)

raftpeople (844215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989399)

Don't confuse the "Resource Planning" part of ERP with actually meaning anything. ERP used to be MRP when it was just focused on the manufacturing aspects of a business and specifically planning raw material requirements to meet the deman for the finished goods. But as companies added modules to the suite to encompass the entire enterprise, they decided to change the name to Enterprise Resource Planning because it sounded more "Enterprisey". Sure there is some planning in there and a whole bunch of transaction execution and tracking that really isn't related to planning.

I am sure... (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989459)

I am sure that there are some successes. When there are, the institution tries to keep it a secret so their competition cannot find out what system they use. They also often keep mum about the additional facilitators, consultants, etc. that were essential in getting it going.

Re:Ouch. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989527)

has there EVER been an ERP implementation that was anything other than a colossal fuckup?

Yes. Most of them are successful. High profile failures are amusing to rant about but the common business can not tolerate that sort of outcome. Companies run by hard-nosed grown-ups usually pull off ERP deployments with little drama.

The government is run by greedy leeches playing with billions of borrowed money. The GSA is corrupt from head to tail; high level GSA people routinely find themselves in prison. The top of the Pentagon is a romper room filled with Lewinskies and Broadwells. The Treasury and its Secret Service are no better. We have seen these sort of epic failures over and over with governments in the US, whether it's the CA payroll system or the FFA traffic system or the Air Force trying to keep its books.

Exceptions include the Social Security system only because the dependents are a powerful voting block and glitches get the attention of Congressmen. The rest wallow in shit and you occasionally notice one of the larger turds, at which point you spout off about ERPs like you know something.

Let me guess... (2, Funny)

Max Threshold (540114) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988767)

They were writing it in Ada and targeting Windows NT 4.

Re:Let me guess... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988855)

If they were writing it in Ada by a reputable company such as Praxis - it would have had the greatest chance of being on time and on budget. It's the COTS stuff that f**s everything up.

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989405)

Actually it was in COBOL targetting Windoze Vista. After all, military intelligence is a humorous contradiction.

In any other country, they would appologize (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988773)

For wasting so much money, and they would do so formally at a press conference. I suppose money is just money in the US. Burn through as much as possible it seems

Re:In any other country, they would appologize (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989051)

In this country? Whoever led that project within Oracle will probably get a public rebuke, but then a huge-ass bonus for exemplary work. I mean, think about it: Oracle got all the money and has to deliver... what? Nothing. Support? Nope. Roll out? None. Project scrapped, money in da bank. Oracle's all good. Probably get an uptick in the financial magazines for their unbelievably profitable project execution. On to the next project. Booyah!

1B? (1)

aurashift (2037038) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988775)

If I blew a billion dollars I'd get fired.

Just saying.

Re:1B? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988801)

The Thief In Chief blew over an extra *trillion* *every* *year* and people weren't' smart enough to fire him.

Compared to that a billion is change.

Re:1B? (2)

Burning1 (204959) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989097)

We tried, but they swift-boated the other guy. I guess we got the president we deserved for that one...

Re:1B? (0)

Namarrgon (105036) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989159)

Maybe you missed how the previous "Thief in Chief" almost doubled the deficit [skymachines.com] , and tripled its growth rate.

Re:1B? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989521)

You should learn the different between debt and deficit. One effects the other but the other doesn't necessarily effect the one.

When you figure out how they are different, come back and we can talk.

And expect to see Republican complaints... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988787)

Sometime after they decide that corporate welfare for defense contractors is a bad thing.

But I'm sure they'll find a way to blame the waste on Obama.

Re:And expect to see Republican complaints... (1)

zill (1690130) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988889)

At the time of posting, the post immediately above yours was:

The Thief In Chief blew over an extra *trillion* *every* *year* and people weren't' smart enough to fire him.

Well, that didn't take long.

Re:And expect to see Republican complaints... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989537)

Obama does share the blame. I mean he was president during 4 years of that debacle and didn't put it to sleep sooner. In fact, the cutting of it was done by the military itself in order to get a working solution in place to meet the deadlines of a law passed.

jobs program (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988807)

I know lots of programmers who can get the same result for half the price.

Re:jobs program (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988853)

Yeah no shit. I wish I could bid and actually have a chance at winning one of the contracts. Then it would at least get done and not cost 1 billion dollars.

Re:jobs program (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988919)

No, if you get the contract it wont get done either, since you'll spend the next ten years in meetings for 120h per week, while your flunkies try to figure out what the hell they are supposed to do and then it will get cancelled at a cost of 10 billion. The Pentagon never learns and their never ending meetings management process never changes.

Re:jobs program (2)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988971)

just go to the pentagon meetings, listen to them, and then go away and ignore them while you do the actual work... just be sure to say lots of "yes sir"

Maybe a pattern here (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988821)

From my observations, I've concluded that no organizational group works toward reducing its size, reducing the amount of its discretionary budget, or increasing its accountability for the preceding.

Any exceptions?

those billions (4, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988829)

Those billions could have put a man on mars, or housed many,many homeless people, or any of a bunch of other uses. When will we realize that most of out debt is crime useless military spending, not social programs?

Re:those billions (0)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988859)

I charted the US deficit against the Pentagram budget one time, and from 1970 onward the two parallel very closely most years. Exceptions in some of the Clinton years of course, and I'm sure the last four years as well.

Re:those billions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989009)

Must be a lot of Satanic cults over there by now, with that kind of spending.

Re:those billions (3, Interesting)

ThermalRunaway (1766412) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989089)

Why should it go to social programs? Why cant I just keep my hard earned money for my favorite social program: buying ME beer...

Re:those billions (5, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989099)

"Those" billions? It's one billion, singular.

The US government spends 19% on defense, 19% on social security, and 20% on healthcare [reason.com] . The last two items are expected to grow much faster than the first.

Useless? Do you know what a "contested sea zone" is and how it affects commerce? No? Yeah, that's what I thought, and the reason why is overwhelming dominance. Assuming, of course, you like imported coffee at the hip indie coffeeshop and hipster fruits like the Durian instead of that crap domestically made junk.

Re:those billions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989383)

How many other useless, colossal fuckups in resource management of this sort do we know that the government / military has perpetuated? How many have we not heard about, or are kept secret, piled under metric tons of obfuscated financial statements, which are in turn piled over in redacted paperwork such that even the skunk-works people can't even tell which way is up? Makes me cry even thinking about it, seems to me everyone is all too happy to add to the complexity.

Pearls before the swine, it would seem; stay the course, right? Why buy one when you can buy ten at the reasonable price of one hundred times the cost? Billion here, billion there, why bother counting? Someone is bound to come along and say thousands of coders and engineers got to feed their families again; so it can't be all that bad... Ignoring the great probability, of course, that most of that went to line the pockets of your favorite fat cat cronies, congressmen, lobbyists, etc.

Re:those billions (0)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989151)

Read the CBO reports [cbo.gov] ; you know, the recommendations for balancing the budget put forth by a nonpartisan government office whose sole purpose is to analyze the budget and put together budget recommendations. Most of the deficit/debt is due to rising cost of social programs (primarily Medicare/Medicaid). You can read the CBO long-term outlooks all the way back to 2000. They all say the same thing - Medicare/Medicaid expenses are going to blow up and we need to do something about it, Medicare/Medicaid expenses are going to blow up and we need to do something about it. Well we didn't do anything about it, and here we are.

Or you can continue with the misguided belief that everything can be fixed by cutting military spending, thus assuring economic catastrophe (on our present course, Medicare/Medicaid will consume all tax revenue in about 50 years). The annual deficit has exceeded the entire military budget for several years now, so even if you reduced military spending to zero we'd still have a deficit.

Re:those billions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989209)

It's not actually useless. They probably bought computer systems, and maintained thousands of programmer, marketing and project manager staff with this money. Those staff then went on to buy houses, healthcare, educated their children and went on vacation with the money.

As a result, all of these people are much more experienced and capable of doing more things.

This is wrong... (1)

SkyLeach (188871) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988879)

There should be a criminal negligence investigation into this.

With at least eight full-lifecycle development projects under my belt as both a Software Engineer and a Development Team Lead I cannot even wrap my mind around the amount of irresponsible waste that would be required to throw away that much money.

Re:This is wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988983)

Hmm...developer...have you ever seen...ERP?

It's like they take a million monkeys and write vb code, hitting tab + enter whenever a completion is available.
Then, disaffected sales drones absorb the code and begin infecting other sales drones.

Eventually, the convince some poor sap ^H^H^H customer that they need an epic solution, such as one that might be produced by an oracle.
Then, using a thick slurry of insane incoherent billing, business lingo and pipe dreams, they begin to feed...

The real news here (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988887)

The real news here is that a branch of the military actually avoided the sunk cost fallacy. I know it's probably not the first time. Nevertheless, I can't help but wonder if they will use the money they save for porcine pilot training.

Re:The real news here (2)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988949)

If you're ever near Washington DC, take a stroll through the Air and Space Museum in Dulles. Its much bigger than the one on the Mall. Of particular interest are the many early rocket projects that were cancelled. The plaques all start off telling how awesome the project was and end with "canceled due to cost overruns". There is most certainly a precedent.

Too Much Time In Pocket D and The Busted Flagon (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988905)

I think I must have spent too much time idly hanging out in RP areas like Pocket D in City of Heroes and The Busted Flagon in Guild Wars 2. Shamefully, I first saw the headline "US Air Force Scraps ERP Project..." as "US Air Force Scraps Erotic Role Play Project..."

Someone care to explain what this is exactly? (1)

brillow (917507) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988913)

Since this thread is just going to be a bunch of "zomg wasted muney!" why don't you educate academics like me about what exactly "ERP" systems are and what you do with it and why its so great?

The university I work at gets new crazy "enterprise" software sometimes and usually it ends up offloading some of the work the bureaucrats used to do on me (purchasing paperwork) meanwhile they take 51% of my grant money.

So tell me, WHY?

Re:Someone care to explain what this is exactly? (2)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989221)

It manages stuff. People, salaries, suppliers, inventories, clients, payments and whatever else you can think of. In the company I work for we just did a whole school management system (students, teachers, evaluations, etc) on top of OpenERP [openerp.com] (python based, AGPL licensed ERP).

Re:Someone care to explain what this is exactly? (1)

raftpeople (844215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989339)

ERP is basically all of the typical office functions put together in an integrated package. For example, an Inventory module to track items, an Order Entry module to allow customers to order those items, an Accounts Receivable system to track the invoices generated when you shipped items to the customer, etc. etc. It's all integrated so, for example, the inventory transactions and the invoicing transactions all feed to the General Ledger for financial reporting.

It's "great" because you can't really run a company without it unless you want to do it all on paper.

I have to assume... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989401)

I have to assume that, if you can post on Slashdot, you have access to other resources on the Internet. There must be literally hundreds---if not thousands---of articles and whitepapers explaining this and extolling its virtues.

Furthermore, you assert that you work at a university. How bad is the library there that you cannot find an answer?

OMFG! And you blame the bureaucrats for taking up your time? Sheesh!

Don't believe it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988937)

Why should I or you believe this? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. There may be some true information in the story and citations. $1 billion in costs does not mean $1 billion flow of cash. Also, a contract with a dollar value of X doesn't mean it will not include Y costs.

I don't want to speculate for a number of very good reasons. But let's consider how much we spend in research through direct government funding and through corporations. Just consider that in light of the extraordinary claims.

Schadenfreude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988939)

I contacted the ECSS Chief Engineer about a year ago to get more details on the architecture (I was being tasked to lead the effort to design a "new" enterprise wide architecture for the AF) and she blew me off.

I am now happily in a new position, with a higher grade. I dont know if the Chief Engineer was still there til the bitter end, but I can't help but feel a little glee.

in other news... (2)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988979)

...price of oracle shares skyrockets

That's nothing! (1, Interesting)

grumpyman (849537) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988989)

Compare to our Canadian (1/10 population) gun registry [wikipedia.org] it cost up to $2B and scrapped.

Re:That's nothing! (1)

seyyah (986027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989055)

Compare to our Canadian (1/10 population) gun registry it cost up to $2B and scrapped.

$2B that would have been better allocated to teaching you punctuation and grammar!

Re:That's nothing! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989171)

Right
and then what pray tell is the language that comes from government, because it sure the hell isn't plain English, MOST of this authoritarian psychopathic bullshit is encrypted (for all practical purposes) in Latin to ALL the people who it matters most, why just to navigate the bullshit laws, ordinances, regulations, acts and other such crap one must hire a fucking translator (lawyer/solicitor), Meanwhile the psychopathic corrupt oath breaking scum fucks murderers and thieves have it all figured it out, it costs the muppets (I mean people) too much to fuck with. And you are sitting here fucking with someone who if he lived in the US would support the constitution and the second amendment, but just happens to live in Canada.

What happened to Canada is they made a list of who has guns.
Forever Remember this same shit in Australia.

That two billion, ought to be spent hunting down and taking out oath breakers you fucking commie fag dick.

Re:That's nothing! (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989069)

Did you guys get your syrup and pork under control? If not, maybe you need an ERP system for that.

Re:That's nothing! (2)

Amouth (879122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989103)

According to your link, it was estimated at 2M and ended up running 66M.. a far cry from 2B but, still a 33x increase in cost so very respectable fail there.

Re:That's nothing! (1)

jarkus4 (1627895) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989287)

2B figure relates to the total cost of program (including PR spendings and other stuff). .
On the other hand there is also some extra computer related costs:
"(...) $227 million in computer costs, including complicated application forms that slow processing times; and $332 million for other programming costs, including money to pay staff to process the forms (...)"

Re:That's nothing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989325)

According to your link, it was estimated at 2M and ended up running 66M.. a far cry from 2B but, still a 33x increase in cost so very respectable fail there.

those are the operating costs, not what it cost to set it up

FIREFOX HOLE? WARNING Re: Base64 Encoded Images (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989005)

FIREFOX HOLE? WARNING Re: Base64 Encoded Images

tor-talk@lists.torproject.org
SERIOUS ISSUE With Details! Re: Base64 Encoded Images: How to block them?

From: https://tails.boum.org/forum/Base64_Encoded_Images:_How_to_block_them__63__/ [boum.org]

@comment 9 / Comment by Anonymous â" Wed 14 Nov 2012 06:23:21 AM CET

"This has been a known "trivial" bug since 2006. Looking it over, it appears that the security benefit of being able to reduce ones browser's attack surface might have been overlooked. Or perhaps we've missed something!

The best way to get something done about this would be to create a Bugzilla account and explain the necessity (don't nag - just explain the need and the impications which seem to have been missed)

The bug is 331257. While you're there you might also be interested in 255107 and 786275."

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=255107 [mozilla.org]
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=331257 [mozilla.org]
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=786275 [mozilla.org]

#####

@comment 14:

"This excellent thread should be looked upon by the Tor and Tails developers. Has Mozilla dropped the ball on this? It appears to me to be a vicious bug which should be patched."

- Story: ::: Firefox, Opera allow crooks to hide an entire phish site in a link :::

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/03/phishing_without_hosts_peril/ [theregister.co.uk]

"Watch out for the tinyurl that isn't | By John Leyden | Security, 11/03/2012

A shortcoming in browsers including Firefox and Opera allows crooks to easily hide an entire malicious web page in a clickable link - ideal for fooling victims into handing over passwords and other sensitive info.

Usually, so-called "phishing attacks" rely on tricking marks into visiting websites designed by criminals to masquerade as banks and online stores, thus snaffling punters' credentials and bank account details when they try to use the bogus pages. However this requires finding somewhere to host the counterfeit sites, which are often quickly taken down by hosting companies and the authorities or blocked by filters.

Instead, the malicious web pages can be stored in data URIs - uniform resource identifiers, not to be confused with URLs - which stuff the web code into a handy string that when clicked on, instructs the browser to unpack the payload and present it as a page.

It negates the need to find somewhere to secrete your malicious page, and once shortened using a service such as TinyURL, the URI can be reduced to a small URL perfect for passing around social networks, online chats and email. Crooks may need to set up a server to receive data from victims, however.

It's a technique already documented by researchers Billy Rios and Nathan McFeters - but now Henning Klevjer, an information security student at the University of Oslo in Norway, has revisited the attack method in his paper, Phishing by data URI [PDF][1].

Typically an attacker would first create a standalone web page, probably using content scraped off the legitimate site it seeks to mimic before making an encoded page and embedding it into a data URI.

URI-based attacks were previously documented by Rios and McFeters as part of an attack Microsoftâ(TM)s Internet Explorer 6 and 7. Klevjer's research expands on this basic theme and gives it a modern twist.

Googleâ(TM)s Chrome browser blocks redirection to data URIs, and other browsers have limits on the volume of data that can be packed into URIs. Klevjer created a 26KB attack page that failed to load in Internet Explorer, but worked on both Firefox and Opera.

As well as getting around the need to find a home for malicious web pages, the data URI trick can sidestep traditional scam defences, such as web filtering. Data URIs may also contain a potentially malicious Java applet, a major concern following last week's Java-related security flap, a post on Sophos's Naked Security blog[2] notes. ®"

[1] http://klevjers.com/papers/phishing.pdf [klevjers.com]
[2] http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/08/31/phishing-without-a-webpage-researcher-reveals-how-a-link-itself-can-be-malicious [sophos.com]

#####

Thank you for the bug report pages, this one appears to have a lot of insight:

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=786275 [mozilla.org]

#####

This appears to be a SERIOUS HOLE in FF/IW to me!

#####

Original discussion:

Base64 Encoded Images: How to block them?

Visit news.google.com with images disabled in your browser. You'll notice [some] images are displayed.

Right click on one of the images and select View Image Info. Now browse through the files listed and you'll discover some beginning with the following instead of http:/// [http]

data:image/jpeg;base64,/

How can I disable the loading of these images when I have image loading disabled?

Can malware be injected into the browser with this tactic?

Naturally (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989017)

ERP is a bunch of disparate functions mashed together then held in place with a metric assload of duck tape. It's only natural that if you try to tacle the whole thing at once the result will be a sort of dynamic paralysis where you run back and forth in a nearly random pattern burning money all the way.

Just as well, if you ever manage to build the thing, you'll create paralysis across the entire company if you suddenly drop this chimera on people's desks.

Note, I am NOT claiming that the individual functions aren't necessary nor am I claiming that they shouldn't support common data formats.I am claiming that trying to build the whole thing at once and as a single 'solution' is wrong headed and doomed to failure.

Re:Naturally (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989079)

ass

Re:Naturally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989319)

The comments are spot on. ERP's are based on a transaction model that is being throughly surpassed by one that is now focused on information/knowledge management. When a CFO picks an ERP and the vendor promises all the 'value add' modules his or her organisation will suffer. Aside from this the underlying architectures of many ERP's are stone age and besides that the notion of the vertically integrated 'enterprise' has less and less meaning as organisations, insource, outsource functions and services and where there is more value in 'collaboration'.

Any organisation that wants to raise its capability would not be looking at an ERP.

Re:Naturally (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989291)

You shouldn't need to build the whole thing at once. A decent ERP system is modular, and can be easily upgraded in place. And while there's always some duck tape, it's still much better than an assorted collection of programs, often times written in different languages and running on different machines (e.g. client vs web based). One of our clients was doing "IPC" by manually adapting files in Excel!

(Disclosure: the company I work for does projects based on a free AGPL licensed ERP system)

Re:Naturally (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989395)

Correct, you shouldn't do the whole thing at once. Unfortunately, too many (including the USAF apparently) try anyway. The ability to run distributed is a good thing. That doesn't necessarily (and shouldn't) mean a mis-mash written in different languages and to different coding standards.

Re:Naturally (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989329)

I've seen this happen repeatedly. Trying to implement a Grand Plan usually results in nothing.

Almost every large project I've dealt with and was delivered without any major catastrophes was rolled out piecemeal. We picked the core/representative functionality, nailed the scope down with a sledgehammer and built it as "phase 1". All scope creep got pushed to "phase 2". Once phase 1 was done we just pick stuff out of the phase 2 bucket that can be done in the allotted time and just repeated the process. Obviously, we had to tinker with the phase 1 design to get the new stuff to inter-operate at times, but that was better than the alternative. Not saying that this works for all types of projects (or that it's in anyway a fancy idea -- I thought incremental development was SW 101), but I've personally never seen a Grand Plan / Big Bang implementation work. Hardest part? Convincing management that the alternatives are: target for full scope and get nothing, or, target for limited scope.

Wrong Vendor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989021)

Geez, SAP would have charged them that much from the start for not delivering anything.

Worst of Both Worlds (3, Insightful)

Epicaxia (2773451) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989085)

Perfect application of Hanlon's Razor [wikipedia.org] : Not so much a conspiracy to waste money as the worst combination of both world (defense acquisition and enterprise software development). Both fields are very prone to overruns, scope creep, and repeated waste of funds as manager after manager--or contractor after contractor--throws away work to start over again. Another great example is the FAA's version of enterprise software [wikipedia.org] , which is currently at $63.4 BILLION and counting (though, to be fair, it's quite possible the most complicated software project in the world).

Still, there are worse examples--specifically, when these kinds of overruns, violations, and program restarts are done deliberately to ensure continued funding to entrenched players in a limited field and / or to pursue minor permutations on someone's pet dream of a project. This can occur at the cost of throwing away many years and billions of dollars of decent work while never really getting closer to a functioning system. Space Launch System [wikipedia.org] , anyone? (Not a software example, but the line between software and aerospace engineering is a lot thinner than most people realize.)

Enterprise resource planning? (4, Funny)

Namarrgon (105036) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989123)

If only they'd had a better ERP system, they could've planned this project more carefully, and put all those resources to better use.

Re:Enterprise resource planning? (4, Funny)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989335)

Did you... just... invent a bootstrapping ERP system?

Why big projects fail (2)

raarts (5057) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989161)

In der Beschränkung zeigt sich der Meister.

Don't design it: Evolve it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989429)

Talking about the central argument from Intelligent Design proponents (something is so complex that it must have been designed), a coworker of mine said it works exactly the other way around: If something is too complex, it can't possibly have been designed.

If I had to "design" something of this scope, I simply wouldn't. I would design something simple that accomplishes some useful tiny subset of the requirements. I would also concentrate on the interfaces between parts of the organization, so the project can be decomposed into more manageable parts. Then you add functionality progressively, until you have organically evolved a complete solution.

Of course, this might result in a big ball of mud [wikipedia.org] , but (a) that's probably better than not having a system at all, and (b) you can refactor parts of the system as you need and try to keep things under control (this is hard to do).

I guess this way of doing thing doesn't mesh well with monolithic management styles that characterize large government organizations.

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