not first government tech failure

January 14th, 2014

It should've come as little surprise to discover the federal government's website was full of errors. In fact, the government has record that is utterly awful concerning high-tech projects.

The problem with SAM

The Los Angeles Times recently published an interesting story about the long history of government tech failures. The Times cites last year's rollout of, a website launched by the General Services Administration. The goal was to combine nine contracting databases into one site. Unfortunately, the site's launch was delayed by two months. And once it launched, its performance was so awful, the government had to take it down for repairs.

The rule

As the examples of and show, tech failures are the rule for the government rather than an exception. As the Times story shows, government websites often fail. Government officials struggle to modernize outdated systems. And, perhaps most aggravating of all, military systems that cost millions of dollars to develop are never used.

An unending trend?

Especially troubling is that the government is showing no signs of getting out of the new technology business. The Times story says that the federal government will spend more than $76 billion on information technology products this year. And you can bet that many of these projects will suffer some serious troubles. The Times also pointed to a federal report saying that a massive 700 government tech projects are currently plagued with problems.