2 of 7Image
When government IT goes bad
You've read more than enough stories about healthcare.gov and its disastrous rollout. We got to wondering about other government IT projects that went bad. There are quite a few, although none as famous because none affect so many individuals directly as healthcare.gov.
In cases like these, you'll always find some management failure at behind it. In the case of healthcare.gov, much has been made of the decision to have the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) manage the project directly and not to hire a general contractor with experience in large, complex system development.
While some of the state exchanges have a good reputation, others are also, to put it kindly, underperforming. Cover Oregon has only just now claimed to have enrolled someone in a health care plan and the Director of the exchange has taken medical leave after a couple of months of rough political pressure.
But healthcare.gov didn't invent the government IT screwup: It has a long heritage, inside the USA and out. The pages to follow describe 5 other aggravating, money-wasting government IT projects that will live in infamy.
EDA wrecking ball
A report released earlier this year by the US Department of Commerce revealed how one US agency, fueled by the paranoia of a nation-state attack, spent US$2.7 million trying to destroy US$3 million worth of its own IT equipment, even though evidence of such an attack was never found.
This odd decision came out of a miscommunication between the affected agency, the US Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the Department of Commerce's Computer Incident Response Team (DOC CIRT). DOC CIRT had determined that two components on EDA's network were infected with malware. EDA somehow got the idea that in fact 146 components were infected.
EDA cut all their systems off of the networks. Confusion ensued about how widespread and sophisticated the infections on their systems were. Just to be thorough in the event that foreign infiltrators were working their way into the US Economic Development Administration, EDA's CIO ordered the destruction of all of EDA's IT components. This included printers, mice, keyboards, TVs and cameras.
Food stamp system goes down
Only a few weeks ago Xerox, the operator of the Electronic Benefits System (EBT) was conducting a routine test of their backup systems. For reasons which aren't clear, this lead to the system shutting down for five hours.
EBT is the system for food payments to beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program in 17 states. It's what is usually known as food stamps. Of course, they don't use stamps anymore, they use a special debit card.
During the five hour outage merchants are supposed to use an emergency voucher system, but some merchants decided to just keep accepting the cards, which effectively no longer had limits on them. Some cardholders went on a shopping spree.