The U.S. Air Force Lost 12 Years Of Investigations Thanks To A Corrupted Computer File

Image by the author with graphics from DVIDSHUB/Flickr, Google
Image by the author with graphics from DVIDSHUB/Flickr, Google

The U.S. Air Force Inspector General tracks all their investigations on fraud, abuse, and everything else down to office disputes in a database maintained by Lockheed Martin. Now it looks like somebody broke it, destroying data collected since 2004.

Defense One and others are reporting that the USAF lost its records of 100,000 investigations in their Automated Case Tracking System due to some kind of file corruption that neither Lockheed Martin or the Air Force have been able to figure out.

Apparently Lockheed Martin spent two weeks trying to fix the problem before informing the Air Force, but had to own up to their failure when the issue proved insurmountable. The Air Force was said to have been informed on June 6th, and has since requested the help of the Pentagon’s cybersecurity operators as well as private contractors.


Some of the information, like investigations into possible sexual assaults, may have been backed up elsewhere, a service spokeswoman told Defense One, though the entirety of the data was not so safe.

“The Air Force launched an immediate investigation to determine the cause and is aggressively leveraging vendor and DoD capabilities to attempt to recover the lost data and determine the severity of the loss,” read a statement cited by C4ISRNet.

Since ACTS is where all the Air Force Inspector General records regarding “IG complaints, investigations, appeals and Freedom Of Information Act requests” are kept, the service expects “significant delays” in responding to inquires from the Inspector General, Congress and everyone else using the system.

“The Air Force is assessing the immediate impact of the data loss, but at this time we are experiencing significant delays in the processing of inspector general and congressional constituency inquiries,” the service said in a statement cited by Defense One and others.


So far nobody has reported suspicion of intentional disruption, but the investigation is ongoing. Pentagon Air Force Spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Defense One “[W]e’re doing our due diligence and checking out all avenues within the investigation to find out if there’s anything that we’re not aware of.” But regarding malicious intent; “[r]ight now, we don’t have any indication of that.”

If nobody can figure out how to bring the data back, the Air Force Inspector General and its collaborators might be able to comb outlying bases for backups of some things. But obviously the loss of the database will be a significant hinderance to current investigations and future references to any that have taken place since 2004.


Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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