Healthcare.gov not first government tech failure

The federal government’s long-awaited Healthcare.gov website ended up being a disaster, with consumers across the nation complaining that they couldn’t log onto the site. Is anyone surprised at this? You shouldn’t be. The government has a depressingly long history of being inept when it comes to introducing new technology.

A dismal history

The Los Angeles Times recently showcased the federal government’s long string of technology failures. Healthcare.gov might be getting the headlines today, but the Times story also takes a long look at SAM.gov. This site, run by the federal government’s General Administration, had a laudable goal: to combine nine contracting databases into one simplified website. The problem? It didn’t work. First, the site launched two months behind schedule. Next, once it opened, it performed so badly that the General Services Administration had to remove it again for repairs. There was even a flaw which could have exposed users’ private information.

The rule

As the examples of SAM.gov and Healthcare.gov show, tech failures have become the rule for the government rather then an exception. As the Times story states, government websites often crash. Government officials find it difficult to modernize outdated systems. And, perhaps most frustrating of all, military systems that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop are never used.

Shocking numbers

Will this trend continue? The Times story offers little hope that it won’t. As reported by the story, the federal government plans to spend more than $76 billion this year on information technology projects. Expect these projects to have problems. The Times cites a federal report stating that 700 government tech projects are now experiencing problems of some kind. And these projects together account for a huge $12.5 billion.


Posted on: 01.15.14