There's A Reason So Many Government Tech Projects End In Failure
from the business-as-usual dept
There have been so many stories about government technology projects gone horribly awry, that it’s hardly a surprise to see yet another program beset by overspending and poor management. This time it’s the Department of Homeland Security’s plan to use biometrics at the borders that’s drawing the ire of the GAO. Not only is the plan going way over budget, but it’s not clear that fingerprinting foreign visitors does anything to stop terrorists. Fortunately, these kinds of failings aren’t unique to the US government. Chris Long, a tech reporter at the BBC, has an interesting essay that covers a number of high-profile snafus in the UK. He argues that these things stem from the fact that political higher-ups are pretty ignorant about technology. So, they readily propose soundbite-ready ideas like putting RFID chips in passports, taking fingerprints from every visitor or requiring that libraries install filters to protect children from porn. The people below them then have the unenviable task of trying to implement these impossible projects, leading to predictable failures and budget overruns. It’s not clear what the solution to this is, but it’s probably unrealistic to expect politicians to learn a little more about the technologies they talk about.