Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

Government The Almighty Buck IT

Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle" 144

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the should-have-gone-into-government-IT dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes with news that the SSA has joined the long list of federal agencies with giant failed IT projects. From the article: "Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. Nearly $300 million later, the new system is nowhere near ready and agency officials are struggling to salvage a project racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency. In 2008, Social Security said the project was about two to three years from completion. Five years later, it was still two to three years from being done, according to the report by McKinsey and Co., a management consulting firm. Today, with the project still in the testing phase, the agency can't say when it will be completed or how much it will cost.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle"

Comments Filter:
  • by raymorris (2726007) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @02:26PM (#47524077)

    These government agencies need to hire some developers for whom a few million hits is just another day. Something like gets more traffic than, and handles it with two well-configured commodity servers.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @02:36PM (#47524145) Homepage Journal

    These government agencies need to hire some developers for whom a few million hits is just another day. Something like gets more traffic than, and handles it with two well-configured commodity servers.

    Something tells me that with, the "interaction" is mostly "client-side" so the, er, "workload" is actually minimal. And the use case count, I believe, still stands at 1, and they are at best appealing to exactly half of the US population. It's a bit different than a place like the Social Security Administration, an org that has taken on the unenviable task of managing retirement and disability insurance for *every goddamn american* which is a pretty ludicrous scope. If raw horsepower were the issue, yes bring in outside help. The real problem (or at least one of them) is that of all 65,000 employees, many of them have a specific task since the aforementioned scope is so grand. Try finding a way to economize when you are basically building a system for a small clerical office, and then doing it about 15,000 times with each iteration just different enough from the last to require constant rewrites.

  • Re:Legacy Systems. (Score:3, Informative)

    by gunner_von_diamond (3461783) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @02:46PM (#47524235) Journal

    racked by delays and mismanagement

    40 years of code could mean 2-3 years of development, and then fixing a bug here and there and updating this or that every now and then. Just because some of the code is 40 years old does not equate to 40 years of development time.

    5 years is a pretty long time to focus on straight dev time. Sounds like the mismanagement part had more of an impact than just using the excuse of it being a "legacy system". I realize that management always portays the timeline as 1/3 of what it will actually take to develop something, but wasting 5 years and $300 million... It's hard for me to think of a justification for that!

  • Unlike liberal Texas (Score:4, Informative)

    by raymorris (2726007) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @03:29PM (#47524541)

    Unlike Texas, where the state government employs thousands of programmers because they are so liberal. I just got out of a meeting with a bunch of government programmers from Texas. They'll all tell you the same thing - getting stuff done within red tape of a government agency takes them twice as long as long as it took them in the private sector jobs - unless there is a federal grant or contract involved, in which case it takes twenty times as long.

    One project they did last year was for a federal government contract, for OSHA. They spent a year and a half developing the system, then during the beta test OSHA cancelled the project. This is after the feds had them write a system where it would print all the database records on paper, to be sent to the feds, who would manually enter it into a computer file, then send that file back to Texas, right back to the same agency who had sent it to them in the first place. That's about typical for the federal government. Government is one thing - it's supposed to be fair and deliberate, not far and efficient. The FEDERAL government is something else entirely.

You will have a head crash on your private pack.