After Hours

Is the U.S. government spending its tech money on the right stuff?

Larry Dignan scoured the Obama Administration's proposed budget and pulled out the interesting tech items. We discuss what he found and what's missing.

Podcast

Larry Dignan scoured the Obama Administration's proposed budget and pulled out the interesting tech items. We discuss what he found and what's missing.

The Big Question is a joint production from ZDNet and TechRepublic that I co-host with ZDNet Editor in Chief Larry Dignan.

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

9 comments
arignote
arignote

Too many of the government IT dollars go to managing IT projects and budgets. Not enough is actually spent on actual IT development workers. Managers tend to be GS-14 and 15. IT staff is GS-13 and below. I've been on projects with a management to developer staff ratio of about 6 to 1. Of the managers about 1/2 are qualified, 1/4 were qualified in 1970 and their brains are still in 1970. 1/4 just got promoted because they were friends with the right person at the right time. The 1/2 that are the least qualified try to make all the technical decisions. There are few trained as systems analysts, software architects?etc. There?s little money for technical training, but plenty of money for manager training. Ask for $100 for a few sticks of memory and there's no room in the budget. Nor is there money for licenses and equipment for an in-house evaluation of software, so we just take the vendors word at a cost of millions.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

We've heard lots of rhetoric about "Open Government" but nowhere does it become more obvious that "one hand doesn't know what the other is doing" than in a bureaucracy. If you dig far enough, SOME agency has necessary data SOMEWHERE, but nobody talks to each other. And you can't get things accomplished because "somebody else" is responsible for the missing data. How about consolidating and normalizing government data into working, reliable INTERAGENCY databases, rather than the enormous waste of each agency doing its own IT thing, endlessly duplicating each others' work and increasing the resultant error?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

They are fighting the same battles as large corporations. Entrenched management refusing to do things and play nice with others. Some agencies won?t share as freely due to fear of department consolidation. Others won?t play nice with other agencies because they don?t want other agencies to realize their level of ineptitude. Still others know another agency IT dept is inept and are reluctant to release their data to them for fear of said data being compromised. We?re getting there, only ever so slowly. I think GIS is leading the way personally. Initiatives like NC OneMap is one such example within my state. Just 5-10 years ago this type of sharing was unheard of at the government level.

bnordberg
bnordberg

If even a couple govt agencies did some master data management, we would have many benefits. Look at homeland security, the CIA and FBI - the obviously have no idea what each other is doing. Healthcare is the same the department of defence and VA will be spending ~2.6 B both working on different systems and attempting to get them to interact. We seem to be on a mission to collect as much data as possible (at least in healthcare) But since all the data are in seperate silo's we cannot aggregate anything into a COMPLETE meaningful picture.

kashbrook
kashbrook

There are a some Electronic Medical Record (EMR) developers that are attempting to bring us to a paperless environment, but there are too many variables, systems and departments within healthcare to accommodate. Besides, where is the commitment, collaboration, and communication from healthcare administrators to make it happen? As for our nation - IMO, we are doomed to vulnerability of attacks so long as beuracracy does rhetorical changes just for the sake of changing things.

OldTechie
OldTechie

that we're talking about the government here, don't you? The old popular military term "cluster...." comes to mind.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Maybe transitioning the clusterf$%& to the cloud would be easier? :)