back to article US Air Force turns up dubious Autonomy accounting in reseller contracts probe

An investigation by the US Air Force into alleged accounting irregularities at Micro Technologies has unexpectedly dragged all that nasty business between HP and Autonomy back into the limelight. The USAF has been looking into MicroTech, which does a lot of business with government agencies – and, crucially, resells Autonomy …

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jai
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someday

they're going to make a movie out of this

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Anonymous Coward

Re: someday

Yes ... and Automony has already booked the ticket receipt revenue!

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Re: someday

Are there really enough accountants that would want to watch a movie about moving money (or not-money) from one column to another (and sometimes back again?)

Or is it just me?

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Re: someday

Has to be better than the movie Ass that wins an Oscar in the future world of Idiocracy. Or not.

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Paris Hilton

Re: someday

and I would still have no idea what they are babling on about

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Joke

Re: someday

Actually, I heard a rumor Peter Jackson already has an outline for the trilogy.

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Anonymous Coward

I first came across this trick...

years ago when two acquaintances revealed they had set up three companies one owned by each of them and the third by both.

By circulating ever increasing amounts of cash between them, the bank then gave them a big loan based on turnover.

They promptly folded the companies, and disappeared with the loan. one is I believe in the USA and the other was last heard of as rent boy to an African dictator.

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Re: I first came across this trick...

Was a fairly common technique during the dotcom days.

We bought products from a company and they would buy the same amount from us.

Each side gets the count the revenue and you would zero it out the next quarter.

Apparently legal under accounting rules.

Also common during the real estate bubble to get inflated valuation for loans.

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Silver badge

I'm glad the Air Force is looking into this. If true, it's double shitty as you've defrauded both the US government and US taxpayers and that isn't cool.

But why is the Air Force the ones investigating and why so late in the game? We're a no-bid GSA service provider and government work is about 20% of our annual revenue. We're not talking billions or hundreds of millions, but even with a few million the GSA, DoD, DoE and the IRS are highly aggressive in their pursuit of flawless and upright bookkeeping.

While we've certainly never been investigated for wrongdoing, we regularly provide deep line item clarification for our invoices. Sometimes we provide the same information to multiple agencies. Hell, even some of our vendors have been asked to provide financials and statements under oath to verify their costs to us.

What I'm getting at is that it would be difficult, nearly impossible actually, to slide shady expenses through the system without more than a few someone's noticing. The government isn't efficient or thrifty but they're not complete idiots either (not all of them anyway). The government certainly isn't as bad at finances as most people think.

You can charge them $30000 for 25 doorknobs, but you damn well better deliver all 25. Obviously they suck at valuations but they're a lot better at making sure they get what they paid for. They might lose all the doorknobs 15hrs after they take delivery or auction them off for $1.50, but you can be sure people verified delivery and stuck asset tags on each one.

Like I said at the outset, I'm glad the Air Force is investigating, but financial voodoo and migratory inventory should have been uncovered long ago.

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@Don Jefe

i'm glad you have such faith in my government.

[$30,000 for 25 doorknobs? that contract was supposed to be for $3M. there's a congresscritter somewhere who didn't bring home enough pork to his supporters and he'll be lucky to get any campaign contributions next cycle]

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Re: @Don Jefe

I wouldn't call it 'faith', it's more that I've spent decades learning about and trying to understand people's motivations. The people who track down financial improprieties and verify shipping manifests are anal to begin with. People doing it from inside one of history's greatest bureaucracies are doubly anal and have a serious bullies pulpit behind them. They absolutely adore being the arbiters of financial correctness and dream of little more than catching someone doing wrong.

I know little of current doorknob market conditions. The doorknobs were a facetious example to illustrate that paying far too much for something isn't wrong, in and of itself, if you agreed to the terms and received what you paid for. The 'doorknobs' can be total piles of shit that only work when it's raining, but if they're to spec and you deliver them all, there's nothing they can, or will, do. It's when you don't deliver what was paid for that sets the auditors loose and as I said a moment ago, they're just dying to tear someone apart.

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@Don Jefe

You're a no bid operation so you're going to get a LOT more scrutiny than a contract that was bid out. Shouldn't work that way*, but it does.

*Both should get equivalent scrutiny if via different means.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: verify shipping manifests are anal to begin with.

Meh.

Depends on the people. Some are some aren't. I'm always amazed at the way the delivery guys expect to be able to run off when they are dropping off $10,000+ of printer supplies (don't ask, just don't). During the shutdown we even had a vendor claim a shipment of 25 PC systems were left on the loading dock with no one here to sign for them. And our inventory is a mess because the property manager who is supposed to have those characteristics for his job lives far enough away to be on permanent telework (again, don't ask, just don't).

Anon because I'm a contractor and not supposed to mention these things.

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