Government technology project failures and solutions

The article from the Brookings Institution, Doomed: Challenges and solutions to government IT projects, has some helpful thoughts on why government technology projects fail and what can be done to improve the chances of success. The article is consistent with my experience in government and my involvement with large and small IT projects. Government at all levels needs a better approach to adopting and implementing technology to improve service and reduce costs. The basic notion that a system’s requirements can be fully specified at the beginning of a project is unrealistic in my experience. First, specifications must make assumptions about the future which is uncertain and thus specifications often will end up being wrong. Second, technology changes so rapidly that deciding everything at the beginning almost assures that the system will be outdated when it goes live. The development process needs to be more adaptable and iterative. I like the ideas of agile and hope this can be part of the solution.

 

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