TheConversation

Blog archive

Can big data really save billions?

bar chart made of $100 

In a recent FCW article highlighting a survey claiming big data could save the federal government up to $500 billion, a reader wrote:

Let us not forget history. Usually, when the government declares that they have a way to save lots of money, implemented costs usually go up not down. Obamacare is the most recent example. When there is savings from some program, it is almost always much smaller than projected. So, at best, all should be very skeptical about any claims of cost savings from Big Data.

Frank Konkel responds:

I want to be clear that the government is not claiming $500 billion in savings from big data as a technology. That number was extrapolated based on what 150 federal IT executives said their respective agencies could save through leveraging big data – a new technology that allows agencies to use the large amounts of data they produce for beneficial purposes. Those executives were surveyed by a company named Meritalk.

I agree with you that savings can be overstated in initiatives, especially those that come to fruition inside the politically-charged Beltway. In our reporting at FCW, we strive to remain objective regardless of the subject matter. If the government claims savings, we’ll ask questions to figure out how they got their numbers.

Big data remains a mystifying technology to some and a buzzword to others, but some agencies – as reported in this story – are diving into big data in a big way. In the past, we have examined the question of whether the government has the policies to truly implement big data initiatives, but we’ve also highlighted early and interesting big data efforts that are producing results – either in cost savings or producing a better product for taxpayers.

We’ve also reported on several aspects of what is probably the most advanced big data effort on the planet – the National Security Agency’s data collection efforts – highlighting its results while digging into its expected costs.

Big data may not be the savior it is touted to be by some – at least not yet – but there is clear evidence that it is being used by the government in efficient ways already. Rest assured we’ll keep asking questions as it continues to develop.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Jun 20, 2013 at 10:50 AM


The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above