A few days ago, I stumbled upon a copy of a letter from the GAO concerning Palantir Technologies dated May 18, 2016. The letter became available to me a few days after the 18th, and the US holiday probably limited circulation of the document. The letter is from the US Government Accountability Office and signed by Susan A. Poling, general counsel. There are eight recipients, some from Palantir, some from the US Army, and two in the GAO.
The letter tells Palantir Technologies that its protest of the DCGS Increment 2 award to another contractor is denied. I don’t want to revisit the history or the details as I understand them of the DCGS project. (DCGS, pronounced “dsigs”, is a US government information fusion project associated with the US Army but seemingly applicable to other Department of Defense entities like the Air Force and the Navy.) The passage in the letter I found interesting was:
ROBERT STEELE: GAO has — quite properly — buried Palantir. SOCOM has a $200 million contract with a carcass, of which only $5M is at risk right now. What SOCOM should be doing — but their acquisition people are simply not knowledgable enough — is recognizing that the future of tactical IT is going to be defined by Big Army money and SOCOM technical requirements that have to date been very badly articulated. The US secret intelligence community stinks at support to the operational, tactical, and technical levels — we can also posit that they stink in support of national policy as well. The Army needs to re-invent itself around precision strike and small unit operations in a non-state actor world. I wrote about this in the 1980’s and 1990’s but no one wanted to listen. Palatir is what you get when you mix In-Q-Tel bull-shitters with pimply faced coders that don’t have a clue about the real world, and well-intentioned but badly abused enlisted special forces as front end pimps for a system that should have been declared Dead on Arrival (DOA) — long ago.