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Why does the government stink at technology?

Business Technology | January 14, 2014

Why does the federal government struggle so much with technology? That is the big question following the disastrous rollout of the website. Even though this healthcare website was especially troubled, it’s not the first instance of the government falling when debuting new technology.

A long history of failure

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story highlighting some of the problems the federal government has had when it comes to debuting technology. Problems with are well-known. But a lesser known, though still embarrassing, disaster came up last year when the government’s General Services Administration released its website. This website was supposed to combine nine different contracting databases into one website. Not only was’s launch two months behind schedule, the site didn’t work correctly once it finally went live. The General Services Administration had to take the site offline to fix its many problems.

The rule

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 Government officials find it hard to modernize outdated systems.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

More problems

The Times story says that website problems happen in the private sector, as well. Government failures, though, seem more egregious. According to the story, the federal government will spend more than $76 billion this year on information technology. But a federal report released a few months ago found that 700 government tech projects were experiencing problems. Those tech projects account for a combined $12.5 billion.


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