The Army's Emily Litella military radio contract moment
THE MIL & AERO COMMENTARY, 20 June 2016. The U.S. Army made a doozy of a mistake last Thursday in the case of a mistaken military radio contract announcement that as of today is even faking-out the likes of the Associated Press (AP).
Late last Thursday the Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen, Md., made the startling announcement of a $1.7 billion contract to the Harris Corp. RF Communications segment in Rochester, N.Y., to provide radios to Afghanistan under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
As of this morning the AP dutifully is reporting that contract with few details. I was tempted to do so myself on Friday, but the Army's contract announcement in the Pentagon's Blue Tops just didn't seem right because of its lack of detail.
I called up the public relations folks at Harris RF on Friday to find out more, and was told to contact the Army; Harris didn't have any details they could release. By that time most Army PR people were folding it up for Friday afternoon, so my plan was to let it slide.
Then at 5 p.m. Friday -- after most folks in the government had gone home to their coolers and barbecues -- came a terse update at the end of the Army's list of daily contract announcements. It read:
CORRECTION: A foreign military sales contract (Afghanistan) for Harris Corp., Rochester, New York (W91CRB-16-D-5006), to procure Harris radios, ancillaries, spare parts and services, was mistakenly announced on June 16, 2016. The contract has not yet been awarded.
Ooops. No contract. No big money ... at least not yet. Little wonder Harris didn't have details they could share with me. Must have been as big a surprise to them as it was for me. Still, it's a $1.7 billion Army mistake that's lost on the AP and other news outlets. I'm sure glad I didn't throw a story up on Friday that I'd have to apologize for today.
This is not to say that Harris won't get a big contract to supply radios for Afghanistan eventually. Maybe it will come today. Or maybe not. It's a bit embarrassing, nonetheless.
The whole thing reminds me of a character from the 1970s on Saturday Night Live named Emily Litella, played by Gilda Radner, who gave impassioned TV commentaries inevitably based on misunderstandings. It was comic gold for its day.
Someone would whisper in her ear during her rants that made her stop in her tracks with a pained expression, and say, "Oh, that's quite different."
Her last line makes me think of the Army and that Harris radio contract announcement ...