Dahlberg is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Science Applications
International Corporation, the defense contractor that investigative reporters Don
Barlett and James B. Steele called “Washington’s $8 billion shadow.” Barlett and
Steele wrote in Vanity Fair that SAIC has won more government contracts than any
other private company, and it held 9,000 of them in 2007. Of those, 100 were worth
more than $100 million apiece.
Dahlberg’s had a long career in the defense contracting business. He spent 30 years at Hughes Aircraft, and was President of its weapons division when Hughes supplied China with nuclear weapons technology. in 1997, when Raytheon acquired Hughes, , Dahlberg stayed on as president of Raytheon Systems. He moved to General Dynamics, before taking the helm of SAIC in 2003. That same year, Hughes finally paid a fine for its vile dealings with China - $32 million.
Two years before Dahlberg’s arrival, SAIC won a contract from the FBI to create a computer network for the agency. After five years and $170 million, the FBI discovered that SAIC’s system was riddled with failures. According to the Washington Post, “the system delivered by SAIC was so incomplete and unusable that it left the FBI with little choice but to scuttle the effort altogether.” The system was intended to track and coordinate the FBI’s criminal cases. Because of SAIC’s failure, agents still use the same paper system in place since the 1930s.
But the FBI debacle is not SAIC’s most expensive, or most worrisome. Barlett and Steele reported that in 2003, SAIC won a $280 million contract to build a computer system for the National Security Agency. That system would have stored NSA surveillance of phone calls and emails, and analyzed them for terrorism cues. SAIC ultimately received more than $1 billion for the system, and never delivered it. Again, the system SAIC built was too laden with errors to work. It has since won a new $381 million contract from the NSA to try again.
SAIC won seven Defense Department contracts worth $100 million for services in Iraq before the war started. The company’s been placed in charge of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council, a Pentagon-sanctioned group functioning as the country’s temporary government. Another called for SAIC to create a mass media for Iraq. All seven contracts were awarded without bidding.
In 2004, a Pentagon Inspector General report excoriated SAIC for its performance on the media and humanitarian services contracts. The $15 million contract to build a BBC-like media company in Iraq ballooned to $82 million, and for that money, SAIC created a network that broadcast “mediocre programming” of “amateurish” quality, the report said. An SAIC employee on the contract used $381,000 to buy himself a Hummer H2 and a Ford C-250 truck, and to charter a jet to fly the vehicles to Iraq.
The FBI’s Upgrade That Wasn’t, Washington Post, August 18,
Report Rips SAIC over Iraq Contracts, San Diego Union-Tribune, March 25,
- Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow, Vanity Fair, March 2007: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703