Management

The price of poor program management

Shutterstock image: right tool, wrong application.

Over the years, the Government Accountability Office’s High Risk List has included big IT projects that were ultimately abandoned due to a lack of disciplined, effective management, including:

  • The Department of Homeland Security’s $1 billion Secure Border Initiative, a complex system involving many sensor and security technologies and a list of subcontractors. SBI was scrapped because it did not meet cost-effectiveness and viability standards. Along the way, members of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and other federal officials had voiced mounting concerns about the program’s hefty management challenges and technology misfires.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs’ $609 million Financial and Logistics Integrated Technology Enterprise program. Intended for delivery by 2014, FLITE was terminated in October 2011 due to nagging management challenges. In 2009, a GAO report said the agency was “faced with significant challenges in implementing FLITE’s pilot systems as planned, while simultaneously working to fully establish program management capabilities.”
  • The Office of Personnel Management’s Retirement Systems Modernization. The program was cancelled in 2011 after the agency had spent approximately $231 million on its third attempt to automate the processing of federal employees’ retirement claims. GAO said the effort was weak in “key management practices such as project management, risk management, organizational change management, system testing, cost estimating and progress reporting.”

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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