Sunday, August 10, 2014

Big Gubment and IT - Not So Grand

The State Department's visa system is currently offline for weeks, keeping businessmen, tourists and exchange students from entering the country. The FBI had to abandon a massive IT project after spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
These bureaucracies did a good job of delivering passports and maintaining files in the industrial age. But they can't keep up in the information age. Moore's Law says that computer capacity doubles in two years or less. Government procurement cycles are a lot longer than that.
Governors and legislators had reason to fear that state health exchange IT wouldn't work well (as it hasn't in about half the states that tried), and they would get blamed. And blamed for being associated with an unpopular law.

All of which suggests a broader lesson. Government was reasonably good at replicating the bureaucratic processes of large corporations in the industrial age. But it's not very good -- it's often downright incompetent -- at replicating the IT processes of firms such as Walmart and Amazon.
I saw this in person.  Complex, integrated solutions were so difficult to develop that we (in the USN) almost never had them.  We developed local, work around solutions to make our IT problems manageable. But these solutions were always subject to human error.  Much pain resulted.

No comments:

Post a Comment