Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Software IT Your Rights Online

California Cancels $208 Million IT Overhaul Halfway Through 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the money-well-spent dept.
g01d4 writes "According to the LA Times, 'California's computer problems, which have already cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, have mounted as state officials cut short work on a $208-million DMV technology overhaul that is only half done. The state has spent $135 million total on the overhaul so far. The state's contractor, HP Enterprise Services, has received nearly $50 million of the money spent on the project. Botello said the company will not receive the remaining $26 million in its contract. ... Last week, the controller's office fired the contractor responsible for a $371-million upgrade to the state's payroll system, citing a trial run filled with mishaps. More than $254 million has already been spent.' It's hard not to feel like the Tokyo man in the street watching the latest round of Godzilla the state vs. Rodan the big contractor."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

California Cancels $208 Million IT Overhaul Halfway Through

Comments Filter:
  • Sadly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mu51c10rd (187182) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:32PM (#42915197)

    And this is the state that has Silicon Valley...you would think there would be a lot of good expertise in the computing arena for the state to tap in to. However, in their defense, this happens constantly in the federal government too. So much money wasted...

    • Re:Sadly (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:34PM (#42915241) Homepage

      In fact, this very scenario has happened a decade before [cnet.com], albet with Oracle instead of HP.

    • Re:Sadly (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:35PM (#42915251)

      Why finish a project someone is paying you for? Do enough (cheaply) to get 50% of the payout, get fired, form a new company and get hired again.

    • Re:Sadly (Score:4, Insightful)

      by doctor woot (2779597) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:37PM (#42915283)

      you would think there would be a lot of good expertise in the computing arena for the state to tap in to.

      Ahahaha, with our government? If they even had the slightest idea of how important it was to stay out of the fucking 1980's with IT equipment that serves critical functions for the state and its citizens, they wouldn't have waited for the problem to "cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars" to do anything about it.

      If they can't get that much straight, how can they possibly hope to know what technical criterion to look for when hiring contractors?

      • This is the most accurate post ever posted on /.
      • Re:Sadly (Score:5, Informative)

        by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:08PM (#42915823)

        how important it was to stay out of the fucking 1980's with IT equipment that serves critical functions

        Talk about blanket statements. I suspect that there is quite a bit of 1980s IT equipment in your life that you are not even aware of.

        The problem is not what decade the equipment comes from, it is whether or not the equipment meets its requirements. If equipment from the 1980s is continuing to meet the requirements that governments face today, then there is no reason to spend enormous amounts of tax money to replace that equipment unless doing so will pay for itself before the next upgrade. Unfortunately, there are few cases where such upgrades actually do pay for themselves, so in terms of what is best to do with tax dollars, upgrading old equipment that continues to function as needed is questionable.

        Now, if the equipment is not working, then it is time to replace it. The real problem is that government contracts are not typically given to companies deemed best for the job, and so these situations arise. Contracts are awarded to companies that bid low and to companies that are well-connected, even when better companies are available.

        • how important it was to stay out of the fucking 1980's with IT equipment that serves critical functions

          Talk about blanket statements. I suspect that there is quite a bit of 1980s IT equipment in your life that you are not even aware of.

          Possibly, but I'm aware that I do use a lot of tech that wasn't invented within the past decade. My last post was ambiguously worded and I apologize, it would have been better to say "not stay in the 1980's". Even people who know nothing about IT understand it's a poor decision to just implement the infrastructure and call it a day. When you're doing something that affects the security of the personal information of millions of people, there's a lot to carefully consider. I've yet to see a politician in Ca

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Sadly while part of your post does deserve the +5 you got there is a flaw in you logic in that its not just the cost of the hardware/software but you also have to look into how hard its gonna be to keep maintaining some ancient POS where all the guys that used to work on those are dead or retired and that cost can rise pretty damned sharply.

          So its not just the software and hardware, its how much its gonna take to keep that old shit running. If you aren't careful you end up with some giant mess that will

    • by suutar (1860506)
      You'd think, but when the contract was awarded, it was to a company in Texas, not CA (EDS was a Texas-based company before HP bought them).
    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      So much money wasted...

      It would be understandable if that were the case, but instances like these usually fall into the category of "systematically engineered to extract every last cent of tax dollars out of the project before shitcanning the whole works as an OOPS"

      The only other explanation for such negligence and runaway overspending is sheer idiocy -- and I don't think people who get approved to spend that much money are all that stupid.

      • by St.Creed (853824)

        I'm currently working on an IT project on one of the worse govt departments in my country. They have a reputation for horrible performance, both in their normal operations and in the IT department as well. They were officially reprimanded by the government accounting office a few years back for failure to control their own organisation. The project is a frigging mess, it's the worst project I've ever seen in a professional setting, even compared to municipal IT which is mainly "amateur time".

        The main proble

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        You never heard of "upward failure" which sadly is all too common in big orgs, be they public or private? Sure the companies getting the contracts are probably playing run out the clock but they are able to get away with it because too few in actual positions of power understand jack shit when it comes to tech. Remember "a series of tubes"?
    • by Lije Baley (88936)

      Nope, just standard practice here: Pay "reputable" consultants big bucks to fly in workers from the opposite coast every week. Not to mention the offshoring.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      But how much of that is the company's fault and how much is feature creep by the government agency that wanted the work done? Because every time I talk to folks online that work with a company doing work for a government agency I always seem to get the same story "They told us it needed to do X, then a third of the way in suddenly it has to do Y which we hadn't even thought of, and then as the alpha is getting ready suddenly here comes a huge list of "must have" features that basically mean torching the who

    • In my experience the government is too cheap and doesn't pay enough to attract the best contractors while at the same time being notoriously difficult to work with. The government employees who are in charge of leading the project and making decisions are capricious and often have their own agenda or career goals which they happily place ahead of the ultimate success of the project. In the end their bungling interference frustrates even the most motivated subcontracts before the job is even close to complet
  • by Galaga88 (148206) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:34PM (#42915237)

    I'm glad to see that they didn't fall prey too badly to the fallacy of sunk costs [wikipedia.org]. Too many places wouldn't realize they've already lost the money they threw at the project, and no amount of extra spending in the hopes that it will eventually succeed will get that back.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      I'm not glad to see that people can't see that big IT consulting corporations have all, without exception, degenerated into useless hulks that can't get anything done. Show me any large project that they undertake where the goals were completely met, and the user is happy. It's in the realm of fantasy, basically. Big IT consulting is basically a scam.

      • by sunking2 (521698)
        Bingo. We have a winner. As unpopular as this may be around here, IT is essentially a joke when it comes to endeavors such as the above.
        • by St.Creed (853824) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:53PM (#42916401)

          Last year a well known IT architect wrote an article titled "The Failure bonus" where he describes how the system for government IT contracts is set up in such a way that failure is rewarded richly, but performing better than specs will lead to unemployment at a rapid pace. It's not that big IT consultants are incompetent, it is that they are very competent at following the money.

          That said: big projects are inherently impossible to complete and everyone in IT knows it. Government knows it too, big projects should be cut down to manageable size or abandoned. Putting out contracts on a "cash on delivery" basis would probably make that a much more viable option for small firms.

  • Went as well as the last?

  • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:40PM (#42915321)

    HP screwed over Vermont: http://governor.vermont.gov/newsroom-Vermont-HP-reach-DMV-settlement-gov-shumlin [vermont.gov] in its attempt to redo the VT DMV.

    Of course, we end up paying for the incompetence that drives the grossly misnamed Department of Information and Innovation...

    • Maybe if enough DMV projects around the country tank, governments will realize their DMVs are far too complex
    • by tibit (1762298)

      The "king is naked" kind of a moment is when you realize that a lot of those projects could be done in 2-3 years by a dedicated team of 30 people. We're talking about $15M in total personnel costs, assuming you pay $150k gross per person. I'd absolutely love to be in such a team and actually deliver something that makes some local government somewhere more efficient, and their employees happy with the tech. It can be done, just requires proper mindset. Of course the bureaucrats the world over will fuck it u

  • by fermion (181285) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:41PM (#42915341) Homepage Journal
    If contractors knew that they projects would be cancelled, and maybe even be sued for breech of contract, we may not be wasting money like we are. In my state I see roads being built, software being delivered, all the time on budget and on time. it may not be the best but it is adequate. But it seems to be ok to spec the project inadequately, provide minimal funding knowing that more can be asked for later, just to con the tax payers into accepting a worthless or expensive project.

    We see this all the time in the military. A low estimate is given on a minimally speced out project. Then as the project money is spent, the agencies go back to the congress and ask for more money, saying we already spent this money, and it won' really work the way we need it to. Instead of firing the con artists, and suing the contractors, and accepting the money as lost, we fund it more thus encouraging the fraudulent behavior.

    • That's what happens when the corporations that own the congress critters are also the ones bungling the huge projects.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      Yeah, but those same companies are hire the politicans on their way out the door, sit them behind a desk and let them collect paychecks indefinitely.

      It's a revolving door. And the middle class, the majority of the taxpayers, are the ones getting spun in circles and flung away.

  • Nothing to see here. No political corruption or fraud. Just move along people.

    "The decision is a setback for the Department of Motor Vehicles, which has a history of such stumbles."

    Oh you mean they've done this before? Well let's wait a few more months and then throw another few hundred million dollars at them. And of course a few million to our political and social friends.

    "The DMV project began in 2006, according to the California Technology Agency. Instead of using 40-year-old, "dangerously antiquated te

    • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:17PM (#42915915) Journal

      >"The DMV project began in 2006, according to the California Technology Agency. Instead of using 40-year-old, "dangerously antiquated technology," DMV staffers were supposed to get a modern, user-friendly system that minimized the risk of "catastrophic failure," according to a DMV report on the project."

      This encapsulates solving multiple problems at the same time. This cannot be done. You update large systems by plotting a path through incremental improvements that get deployed, tested and fixed before the next increment, so that get you to where you need to be. It might not seem like the optimal path, but anything involving a switch over of technology, UI, back end, infastructure and buckets of code all at the same time is simply never going to work.

      In the case of the DMV, it might involve unifying disjoint databases pair by pair until you have only one, while maintaining the same interface to the heterogeneous clients. Then one by one converting the heterogeneous clients to a standard back end interface. Then one by one adding the features of a client to the grand unified client and switching over that system, until the GUC has all the features for all the clients are new client. Then one by one, updating the organizational procedures to make them better, and updating the GUC while doing so. You can make these changes one by one. You can roll back one step if it doesn't work right the first time. You can measure progress by the number of working updates, not in how much less non-working the global-replace-systems is today.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Exactly! Incremental improvement is where it's at. If your most pressing issue is antique hardware, then you only do what's necessary to get the system ported to current hardware. Run the mainframe code in an emulator if you must, but for the life of you don't redo it all from scratch while the customer is one breakdown away from a catastrophe. Once the first most pressing issue is addressed, you move on to the next one. And so on.

        • I'm a contractor for a government agency that has implemented an entirely new system based on Siebel (yeah, that's right, 1999 called and wants their CRM back). The system has been "designed" (I use the word loosely) to replace several departments systems. It has, of course, been a disaster. On a technical level, Siebel sucks. It's back-end is convoluted and not well designed for massive customization. On the front end, the ActiveX controls it relies on only work perfectly in IE6, so it's compatibility mode

  • A lot of DMV workers just got new tech for their homes!

    • by afidel (530433)

      Since the project has been going on since 2006 the hardware is probably EOL (unless they did a tech refresh).

  • Um, math? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:54PM (#42915603)

    I was going to use my mod points to mod up the first person who questioned the new math behind how a $208 million dollar project cancelled halfway through already cost $254 million dollars.

    Alas, nobody had yet... and it's just about beer-o-clock here.

    • by duranaki (776224)
      I think there are two sets of numbers here. The spent $135M out of $208M for DMV upgrades before canceling. In another example, they spent $254M out of a $371M for payroll system upgrade before canceling it. Still, I'm not sure I would find it surprising to learn the government had spent more than the total after only completing half the work. :)
    • I was going to use my mod points to mod up the first person who questioned the new math behind how a $208 million dollar project cancelled halfway through already cost $254 million dollars.

      It didn't. $135 million dollars had been spent on it -- the $208 million number is in a different sentence, about a different $371 million project by a different state agency where the contractor was fired. Also note that "halfway through" doesn't mean that only half the allocated costs were consumed; indeed, costs out

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:54PM (#42915611)
    "The contract was awarded in 2007 to the Texas-based Electronic Data Systems. The company was later bought by Hewlett-Packard and renamed HP Enterprise Services. Hewlett-Packard is now run by Meg Whitman, who during her failed campaign for governor in 2010 promised to save California money with better computer technology."

    I smell something going on here. I'm thinking this may have been a bit too convenient.
  • contractors and sub contractors and lot's of overhead and have lot's of layers from the guys on the ground to the guys on the back end.

    Also some people temp worker drag stuff out so they keep getting a pay check.

  • This is California's way of creating jobs. There will be IT disaster, so California will have to hire IT staff to fix it. Not very economic, but at least we can create some useless jobs.

  • Irony (Score:5, Informative)

    by rgbscan (321794) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:03PM (#42915757) Homepage

    This is by far the best line of the article....

    "Hewlett-Packard is now run by Meg Whitman, who during her failed campaign for governor in 2010 promised to save California money with better computer technology."

  • Why $208 million? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maroberts (15852) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:04PM (#42915763) Homepage Journal

    Okay, the system presumably has to handle about 30 million drivers and vehicle statistics, as well as other information such as traffic citations. I assume it's only accessed through a few hundred offices plus allow access to authorised systems (police etc) at any one time. Obviously it's got to be reasonably secure and perhaps operate at more than one site to cater for disaster recovery and redundancy. This is not beyond the capabilities of a few large servers to handle (I presume that cloud storage may be out due to security issues). Such a system could supply the information to Windows/Unix or even phone app clients. I assume driving licenses and vehicle ownership records have to be printed and sent from an office somewhere.

    What else is in the scope of the project? Why does it cost several hundred million bucks to develop a new system? I can understand perhaps 10 million to develop and install. The biggest problem I can see is porting the data from the "40 year old antiquated system" to the new one. Someone must be able to explain where the extra £198 million has to go, apart from the contractors pockets.

    • by Rande (255599) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:27PM (#42916027) Homepage

      Having worked on govt projects before, it's all spent on :
      a) Management. Lots of it. About 5 times as many managers/sub-contract managers/advisors etc than there will be coders. Because the more management a project has, the harder it is to blame any one person.
      b) Paper. Lots of paper. The amount of pages generated on specifications, revisions, reports, recommendations will be able 10 times the number of _lines_ of code created. All to show that no taxpayers money was wasted.
      c) Tendering. It costs a lot to tender a bid, which reduces the competition to only the big ones who can afford to throw a million at a 1in5 chance. Whereas, if they were allowed to go to a small consultancy who only has 30 employees, they'd be able to get a much better price.
      d) Changes. The requirements are often so written in very complex language that noone really understands it, and then they come along with changes every 2 months which require 3 months of recoding because they didn't fully understand what they were asking for to start with.
      e) User acceptance. Don't underestimate the ability of a low level govt employee to refuse to use the new system because 'I've done it this way for 30 years and it worked just fine! This doesn't work like the old one did.'

      • d) Changes. The requirements are often so written in very complex language that noone really understands it, and then they come along with changes every 2 months which require 3 months of recoding because they didn't fully understand what they were asking for to start with.

        With federal government projects, and I assume with state projects as well, there are all kinds of specific guidelines and rules that have to be followed. If these aren't stated explicitly in the proposal, they cause cost overruns. For example: Only union employees are allowed to move servers, equipment must be sourced from certain suppliers, certain technologies such as bluetooth aren't allowed in some government locations... The unwritten requirements can go on and on.

    • Re:Why $208 million? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2@nospAm.anthonymclin.com> on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:34PM (#42916129) Homepage

      The biggest problem I can see is porting the data from the "40 year old antiquated system" to the new one.

      It all goes here.... not only do you have 40 years of data to port, but you also have 40 years of policies and procedures stemming from the old system that have to be enshrined in the new one. You also have to do the port in a way that has 0 downtime as you switch. And, since you can't magically switch hundreds of locations overnight, you have to make sure that the data, policies, and procedures stay in sync between the two systems during the migration period, because every location needs identical information from both systems.

      Combine this with mandates such as "The specs for the new system are to exactly match all the quirks and behaviors of the old system" and you have a recipe for disasters like this.

    • by LDAPMAN (930041)

      "A few hundred offices"? Think again. California is truly huge. If you assume one office per municipality there would still be thousands. The actual number is likely 10's of thousands.

      • Re:Why $208 million? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Solandri (704621) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:00PM (#42917201)
        There isn't a DMV per municipality. There are about a hundred and sixty scattered around the state [ca.gov].

        This has been a complaint too. For a state with a population of 38 million is (figure half of them drive) it's about 119,000 per DMV office. At 250 working days a year, that's 475 per office per day, or about 59 people per hour. That shouldn't be that hard, but the lines there are typically 1-3 hours long. They have a reservation system where you can make an appointment in advance. But the last time my registration came up for renewal, there was a problem which required me to visit the DMV instead of renew by mail. I tried to use their reservation system, only to discover that even though I was trying to make an appointment the day after I got the mailed notice, all the nearby DMV offices were booked solid until 3 weeks after the renewal deadline. I ended up making a reservation at some DMV office in the desert 70 miles away (still had to wait in line 45 min), and used the trip as an excuse to do some sightseeing and visit some friends in the area.

        If you have a AAA membership, that's by far the best way to get your DMV stuff done in California (if it's a service they can do - they don't do driving tests and a few other things). I've never had to wait more than 30 min there, and usually they get to me within 5 minutes. They charge a few dollars more, but it's worth it compared to wasting several hours at the DMV.

        In contrast, the RMV in Massachusetts and the DMV in Washington had wait times very similar to the AAA. Massachusetts even puts offices in the mall so parking is convenient and you can drop by while getting other shopping done. So I dunno what California is doing wrong, but whatever it is they're doing it very, very wrong.
        • by LDAPMAN (930041)

          This system isn't just accessed by actual DMV offices. There are multiple users in every municipality.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Think of the new bandwidth and cpu power needed in the past and whats projected.
      30 million drivers would get a name, DOB look up at a state, city, federal level and get added to over time.
      Now every federal agency, state, city LEO and connected private detective is going to be making more and more facial recognition requests.
      From background requests, bloated cyber budgets needing to show growth, protester watching to random Web 2.0 picture face finds.
      Facial recognition math is not that CPU intensive - bu
    • by whoever57 (658626)
      I just paid my car's annual tax through the DMV website. I'm struggling to reconcile this with the description of the "40 year old antiquated" IT system.
    • Not only that, but why reinvent the wheel?

      California's requirements for a DMV system shouldn't be all that different from NY or TX or most other States. A new DMV system could just be redone 'once' for one state and then modifications made to the system base on -legal- requirements of another state.

      I emphasize 'legal' reguirements, because the last thing you want are 'desired' or 'mandatory' requirements that aren't really needed. You sink in a lot more money due to incompetence.

  • California of course is a behemoth of State agencies spread everywhere, not to mention hundreds more various County and Municipal agencies and departments. Just within the scope of the State of California there are massive agencies like the DMV, Health and Human Services (i.e., Welfare), State Parks, Department of Insurance, Franchise Tax Board, and dozens of regulatory agencies and sub-agencies, and the Legislature itself. Across these numerous agencies and departments there are hundreds of thousands of

  • by Tridus (79566) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:05PM (#42915779) Homepage

    This is entirely normal when you take a government that chronically under-staffs on IT and relies on consultants. They go and try to do something big, and they don't have the expertise in house to deal with it. Enter more consultants, particularly of the variety that like to write a lot of powerpoint presentations and bill a lot of hours but never actually deliver a bloody thing. Of course, since the government doesn't have enough IT expertise to actually figure that out, the high level senior managers that love powerpoint and high-level mumbo jumbo MBA talk think everything is going well.

    And then, scope creep happens. It follows one of three lines:
    1. Election happens. New government comes in, with new priorities and a new way they want to do things. This is obviously bad for a huge project in progress.
    2. The existing project has a new department join in, which means new managers and thus a new set of demands. Instead of starting up a new project, they try to shoehorn those into the current project to satisfy management's desire for design by a giant committee of managers.
    3. Someone realizes that the project didn't actually have all the requirements properly captured in the first place, which is pretty much inevitable in my experience.

    You'd think at some point the government would learn that they can't manage projects in this way and rely on consultants to sort it out, but they never do. Of course, in the case of #1 or #2 even in house IT doesn't really save you, but in my experience they tend to be more flexible than a giant Enterprise consulting outfit (mostly because there's no contract they can hide behind to deliver X, even if X doesn't actually solve the problem that prompted the project in the first place).

    The whole process is a giant mess.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Really? Why should a company with a head count of 100 in IT then go out and double or triple staff to get an initiative complete? What happens after your done? Do you keep that extra staff on? and when you say Government + Consultants = Failure, there's lots and lots of projects delivered to governments everywhere, on time and on budget. It's only when you hear about these problems that people jump to conclusions. The Government relies on Contractors to get new things done because most of the IT staff

    • by Yakasha (42321)

      This is entirely normal when you take a government that chronically under-staffs on IT and relies on consultants. They go and try to do something big, and they don't have the expertise in house to deal with it.

      Really close here. Every successful project I've been on that utilized a high % of contractors had insanely awesome people in house running the show. But Sacramento's top IT positions cap out under $100k... with no stock options.

      Not gonna happen.

    • by BobandMax (95054)
      So, you're saying that the problem was not enough government employees? Why would it make sense to staff IT for very large projects? How many of those are there? The likelihood is high that it would end up as a government fiefdom that perpetuates itself by inventing work, whether it was needed or not.
    • by dstates (629350)
      Ask Mitt Romney about IT consultants. He may have actually outspent Obama on IT, and look where it got him.
  • Seems the Government Pork-Barrel is sewn-up by the Multi-Nationals who are only interested in milking mega-buck projects for all they are worth rather than delivering a working product anywhere near their promised completion date and cost estimates. And the problem doesn't stop there, even if the project is completed, typically the Contractor continues to milk it via Support Contracts and added Consulting Fees. These Support Contracts can eat away substantially at the State Budget in the event of unforeseen

  • For several large IT project at the State agency level, I can safely say that the bidding process for an RFP is to the lowest bidder, not the best bidder. Also they make it easier for certain companies to be on the bidding process ie. cronyism. So really the state ends up with what it asks for. Most large IT project fail because of these reasons.
  • by cyberidian (1917584) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:48PM (#42916329)
    Could it be that the way the government contracts are structured and micromanaged by government agencies is the problem and not the contractor or their programmers? I work for a company that provides government services under contract to the State of California and the government agency that oversees us micromanages us so much that it is often impossible to to develop systems properly. The 4 biggest problems I see are 1)constantly changing requirements that are written by government employees with little or no IT/web knowledge 2) contracts secured by being the lowest bidder which do not allow us to have the resources to properly design or test the system we are building 3) forcing us to work with other contractors including non-profit ones that are "donating" their services (very strange to me really) and that provide inferior IT systems we must use or integrate. 4) Requirements, features and design being dictated by government agencies or advocacy groups with little knoweldge of system design & development. For example, we are currently forced to support an application written by one of these "non-profits" that uses ASP classic and violates every current IT standard. My company has the IT staff & talent to completely rewrite the application but we are not allowed to and must instead support and integrate the badly written one that was donated to the state. It is unclear why this non-profit is allowed to force the agency & us to use their product, but it seems they have political connections that make it so. I believe also that government contracts almost always go to the lowest bidder and not the company with the most expertise. Often a contractor is the lowest bidder because they plan to cut corners and not follow good IT practices, or have not estimated costs correctly. Also as a web developer for a company that works under government contracts, I cannot count the number of times we have received requirements for a website from people that have little or no computer skills, let alone web skills or experience. You would think in this day and age that the government employees providing requirements for government IT systems would have at least basic IT knowledge, but this is often not the case. I am not exaggerating that I have received requirements from people that have no Excel, Word or even email skills and have obviously barely even used the Internet. Many people in the top levels of government management are older (baby boomers) or were promoted for reasons other than great IT skills. They often have no professional experience with developing IT Systems, ADA or other required standards and yet they are the one writing the criteria for the contracts and the system requirements. State agencies also often demand that large amounts of money be spent on "usability studies" or other commitees where a lot of people discuss and dictate what the IT contractor should do in building the new system. The people running these studies often have very poor IT skills themselves and have little experience designing IT systems, but they often have an enormous say in how the system is designed. By the time the IT contractor's development staff is involved in the project, everything is already specified by non-IT government people and between that and the contractor management trying to save every dime (therefore not providing resource for testing), it is not really possible to build a quality system. I say all of this inspite of the fact that the State of California actually has a good Department of Technology Services that provides great ADA compliant web templates. The California State government is so large that even with a good DTS department, the management and staff at specific agencies providing the requirements for a new system may have no knoweldge or interaction with that department and never involve them in creating the contract or project requirements. I think the solution to this is the state should be involving its DTS department in creating all contracts and requirements for new systems projects and ind
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > Could it be that the way the government contracts are structured and micromanaged by government agencies is the problem and not the contractor or their programmers?

      Um, no. It's both.

  • Perhaps California should consult with Virginia [washingtonpost.com] about how to contract and run a DMV system.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:21PM (#42917383) Homepage Journal
    They shut down a project before it was a couple billion dollars over budget? That's blinding efficiency by government standards! HP must have really, really sucked for that to have happened. I'm gong to have to go look at the story.

    Oh, I see. It started under EDS auspices a few years back. Pretty light on details other than that, but let me guess, EDS proposed Citrix as a solution right out of the gate and set up the server on some 286 that they found in Ross Perot's attic. Am I getting warm? I'm pretty sure I'm getting warm, because EDS is a one-trick pony, and their trick sucks. Doesn't matter if you're setting up an accounting system or a next generation war ship, EDS will find SOME way to install Citrix on it. I'd say "and make it suck" but that's kind of redundant when you're talking about Citrix!

    Too bad for the Government EDS is pretty much the only game in town if you need some IT contracting done. Enjoy your Citrix!

  • And companies like HP, L3, Cisco, SAIC, and others, make Michelangelo look like my dog with a crayon.

  • I hereby submit my $100M proposal to undertake an overhaul of the California DMV system, which will only cost $50M total when the state has to cut it short. Send your check now so the savings can start sooner!

Never make anything simple and efficient when a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

Working...