The Skinny on FAT

A. What defense contractors have gotten in recent years.
B. A term used to describe testing done on the first items produced under a contract.
C. A term used to described what did not happen with a whole lotta body armor
D. All of the above.The answer is

“D.” (Are we that transparent?) 

FAT is “first article testing” and government auditors at (get this) the request of a member of congress (who tipped her off?) have found FAT did not happen with a reported 13 of 28 Army contracts. About $3 billion in gear apparently escaped the testing that helps ensure a company can produce what it promised and detect any problems early. The FAT requirement is designed to save time and money. As a result, DoD really has no clue whether armor from those 13 contracts meets anyone’s standards. 

The Army guy who oversees the program apparently has said no deaths have been attributed to faulty body armor, which, according to our source, would take time to catch. But, hey, defective body armor is better than no body armor, he says, unless it is something about the plates themselves that kill you and not the bullet or shrapnel. (His view.) 

The concern here is the squandering of billions of dollars. While the Army is failing miserably in its explanation, stating it disagrees with the inspector general’s interpretation of the testing requirements (if you can believe that), chances are the body armor is more than adequate. It used to be millions, now billions seem to be tossed around without any fore- or afterthought. And oversight? The Army stood up its new contracting command March 14 at Fort Belvoir, Va., and its new director has pledged better contract oversight. We’ll see. Three billion under any system is a chunk of change, let alone when it is for gear designed help protect the kids in the sandbox. We understand the political grandstanding that has underscored with the body armor issue. As far as that $3 billion, our source surmised:
“Follow the money, and you’re going to find a retired general or a retired colonel from West Point.”

We disagree. Our guess is this mess was not that well-planned.

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