The stream of failures flowing from the federal government’s information technologies (IT) has been a focal point of public outrage directed towards the current administration. Last week this outrage was revitalized following a new independent watchdog’s report that found nearly 3 out of every 10 taxpayer dollars spent on IT investment is wasted.
The United States Government invests more than $80 billion annually in IT. Even though the nation is crippled beneath $18 trillion dollars in debt, our government has wasted billions of dollars in the last 2 years alone on IT investments that have either failed completely in their initiative, or are currently failing and yet still being funded. The decrepit state of America’s IT is highlighted by events like the recent hacking fiascoes as well as the seemingly unending difficulties with government run websites like the Obamacare online databases.
To counter the recent difficulties, the Federal government has proposed expanding the IT budget. This spending increase insults the American public, especially considering the money will be put into a flawed system that has failed to institute even 20% of the changes recommended by the GAO 2 years ago in an equally unflattering review of IT investment. Instead of fixing the broken system and protecting Americans from more government waste, the Obama administration elects to continue its record of irresponsible investment.
The GAO reports serious problems at all levels of IT investment, but they emphasize inadequacies in executive management. Specifically, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have failed miserably in their duty of informing investment decisions in IT. The problem is individual as well as structural. Most CIOs lack “the authority to review and approve the entire agency IT portfolio”. Putting more money into a system that lacks the proper oversight and accountability, without addressing these problems, is an inexcusable negligence.
The state of the U.S. federal government’s investments in IT is in complete shambles. Currently, the government lacks the security, databases, online platforms, and technology to operate effectively in the 21st century. Unless the IT investment system receives an immense overhaul, the future promises the same failures and dangerous vulnerability that currently grips our nation’s information technologies. Instead of the government suffering from the irresponsibility of their methods, it is the American taxpayer who is forced to finance the government’s terrible investments, and then given no choice but to suffer from the consequences of the pathetic state of America’s IT.