Photo: flickr user: isafmedia
The Department of defence bungled a $1.2 billion pitch which involved an upgrade to the Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical centre (LRMC) in Germany.The Government Accountability Office—the investigators and auditors for the Federal Government—shredded a plan issued by the DoD, saying that it had “errors throughout” and was plagued with inconsistencies in a report released last Friday, on the afternoon before the long weekend.
Landstuhl is a vital medical centre to every deployed servicemember because it’s the first stop once a patient’s battlefield wounds have been stabilised in Afghanistan. Landstuhl also serves as the primary medical facility for all U.S. troops stationed in Europe from Sicily to the U.K., so these proposed changes matter to a lot of people.
The DOD originally planned for Landstuhl to be combined into a consolidated $1.2 Billion Medical centre with the 86th Medical Group at Ramstein Air Base, since both of the facilities were built in the 1950s, each is undersized and serves the largest community of Americans outside the U.S.
The first problem with the DoD’s plan for the hospital was the January 2012 decision to scale back forces in Europe even more than planned, removing 8,000 troops by 2015 instead of 4,000. While that should free up $487 billion for troop movement to other theatres—think the South Pacific—it was the first wrench thrown into the plan’s machinery.
This meant that the original pitch would have to be redone, to make sure that the DoD wasn’t planning to build a large, expensive, state-of-the-art hospital for a skeleton European crew. But now the proposal had a whole new slate of problems, after the auditors reported a host of mistakes to a congressional appropriations subcommittee. Some of the problems were:
- A lack of documentation and justification when the pitch writers came up with the centre’s planned size.
- The use of different baseline numbers at convenient points in the proposal.
- Pervasive calculation errors, numerical typos, and general goofs which might, accumulated, change the projected cost.
In short, the auditors think that the scale of these goofs might mean that the asking price the DoD told congress is off—which, in any billion dollar real estate development deal, is pretty embarrassing. At this point, it’s back to the drawing board for Landstuhl.
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