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FCW Insider: Is government IT 'unspeakably bad'?

In the process of bailing out the financial industry last week, the House of Representatives had to bail out its e-mail servers. A deluge of e-mails from constituents during the first vote on the economic bill brought the House's servers to a crawl (read a report by TheHill.com).


It was an interesting story, reminiscent of the Web server problems that occurred when Ken Starr published his report on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair (read a BBC report).


Or is it more than that?


According to one blogger, the incident could be seen as part of a larger pattern of government agencies mismanaging technology.


"Word that the U.S. House of Representatives email servers buckled under traffic levels this week should come as no surprise," writes Mary Jander, a blogger for Internet Evolution. "Sadly, it's just another dubious plaque on the government's IT wall of shame."


Jander lists a number of possible explanations for these problems, including a lack of leadership, poor planning and coordination and aging equipment.


But she also leaves open the possibility that federal agencies are no worse at IT management than private sector organizations. Agencies are just more visible. Their visibility also makes them more vulnerable when it comes to hackers.


Her sources "all concede that government IT may get a bum rap," Jander writes. "The problems faced by agencies are formidable, and in many cases, such as the avalanche of Congressional email this week, may just as well have occurred in the private sector."


Is it a bum rap or mismanagement? Read Jander's full blog entry ("Why Government IT Is So Unspeakably Bad") and let us know what you think. You can post a comment here (registration required) or send an e-mail to letters@fcw.com (subject line: Government IT) and we will post it for you.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Oct 06, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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