Top government IT failures


Federal Computer Week has compiled a list of seven major information technology projects that went south, and in the process, cost taxpayers a pretty penny. Some were abandoned after years of work, and others just muddled along without success.

The publication's list only scratches the surface of federal IT failures, but it provides an outline of the problems the government has encountered over the years. The Obama administration is seeking to tackle this issue in a serious way, but it will not erase what has already occurred. The publication's list includes:

  • The FBI Virtual Case File System - The FBI spent about $170 million over four years, starting in 2001, to develop a system for tracking criminal cases, but then concluded it wasn't going to work. Sentinel, a $451 million project that replaced VCF, has run into delays and its completion has been pushed back to September 2010.
  • IRS Modernization -The IRS launched its Business System Modernization program some 20 years ago. By 1995 and $2 billion in expenditures, only marginal improvements were made. In 1999, an IRS assistant commissioner called the modernization program a failure, and said most of its technology did not work. By then, the IRS was starting over with a new $5 billion contract that has continued with mixed results. The Development of the Customer Account Data Engine, the centerpiece of the modernization effort, was halted last summer.
  • Kinetic Energy Interceptor- The Obama administration moved in May 2009 to "terminate for convenience" the multibillion antiballistic missile system program because it would not achieve its goal of destroying enemy missiles during the ascent phase of a flight. The government cited cost and system malfunctions in the $6 billion program.
  • Secure Border Initiative-Network - This effort to secure the southwestern border with an electronic fence and other high tech devices has been in a state of disarray. It has been plagued with software problems, construction delays and a lack of communication between prime contractor Boeing and the Border Patrol.

For the full list of IT disasters:
- see this Federal Computer Week article

Related Articles:
Another delay for FBI's Sentinel
IRS halts modernization for now
IT glitches plague DHS border fence