Massive Air Force ERP software project still struggling

Two completed pilots of the more-than-US$5 billion project are being scrapped

A massive Oracle ERP (enterprise-resource-planning) software project being conducted by the U.S. Air Force continues to experience difficulties, with the defense agency deciding to toss out some completed work as part of a restructuring plan that will be announced soon, according to an official communication released last week.

Dubbed the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), the project was started in 2005 and is supposed to replace more than 200 legacy systems. Its total estimated costs, which were originally placed at about US$3 billion, have grown to more than $5 billion, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in an October 2010 report.

In October, the Air Force said it had begun a "strategic reassessment of the overall program" and was considering a number of alternatives. Those included "building on the current ERP software, leveraging other service/Defense Agency solutions, and/or modifying legacy capability," Air Force Deputy Chief Management Officer David Tillotson told lawmakers at the time.

"An announcement detailing program restructuring is imminent and a refocusing of ECSS capabilities will result," according to a document from the ECSS Communication Office issued last week, which was seen by the IDG News Service.

As a result of the restructuring, the Air Force plans to scrap two pilot programs, A and B, which had been "fielded with known deficiencies and workarounds," Lt. Gen. Judith A. Fedder, deputy chief of staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support, is quoted as saying in the document.

"The plan included workaround resolution in Pilots C and D for a feasible Air Force solution," Fedder's statement added. "Per direction, these C and D pilots will no longer be fielded. Without the enhanced capabilities of the follow-on pilots, the A and B-only solution is not suitable for fielding across the Air Force."

Users in the A and B pilot programs will be "rolled back to their legacy systems" by the end of this month, and will subsequently no longer "transact in ECSS," according to Fedder's statement.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined comment. A spokeswoman for CSC could not immediately comment Monday.

The Air Force did not immediately respond to requests for additional information, including the project's current total cost estimate and details on why the pilot programs were ceased.

But there are two sides to every story, and this one is no different, said Michael Krigsman, CEO of the consulting firm Asuret and an expert on IT project failures.

"The fact they did a pilot and decided not to proceed with the full thing? That's one of the reasons you do a pilot," he said. "It's better to have the pilot fail than have the whole program fail."

"But then it raises the question of what is the nature of the pilot, why did it fail and what are they doing instead," added Krigsman, whose firm has not been involved in the Air Force project. The question now is how the Air Force and CSC will address whatever deficiencies the pilots experienced going forward, he said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?