The federal government’s long-awaited Healthcare.gov website was a disaster, with consumers across the country complaining that they couldn’t log onto the site. Is anyone surprised by this? You shouldn’t be. The us govenment has a long history of being inept when it comes to introducing new technology.
A dismal history
The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story displaying some of the problems the federal government has had when it comes to debuting technology. The issues with Healthcare.gov are well-known. But a lesser known, though still embarrassing, disaster came last year when the government’s General Services Administration released its SAM.gov website. This website was designed to combine nine different contracting databases into one website. Not only was SAM.gov’s launch two months behind schedule, the site didn’t work properly once it finally went live. The General Services Administration had to take the site down to fix its many problems.
As the examples of SAM.gov and Healthcare.gov show, tech failures are the rule for the government rather then an exception. As the Times story shows, government websites often fail. Government officials find it difficult to modernize outdated systems. And, perhaps most aggravating of all, military systems that cost millions of dollars to develop are then never used.
The Times story says that website problems happen in the private sector, also. Government failures, though, seem more egregious. As reported by the story, the federal government will spend more than $76 billion this year on information technology. But a federal report released earlier this year found that 700 government tech projects were experiencing problems. Those tech projects account for a combined $12.5 billion.