US Government IT Dashboard Is Now Online

You Can Check The Status of Hundreds of IT Projects

2 min read
US Government IT Dashboard Is Now Online

Well, a government IT project that hit its schedule. Yesterday, US Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra revealed as he had promised the government's new public IT dashboard showing the current status of more than 800 active government IT system developments costing $50 million of more.  The site is clean looking and provides some useful information, although the detail provided is uneven and in some areas confusing.

For instance, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) CIO who has gone on a mission to change the way how VA IT programs are managed, has provided evaluations on all VA programs. The US Department of Defense (DoD) along with many other departments and agencies have not.

In another instance, program milestones are displayed with their cost data but the milestones are not shown in chronological order, making it hard to make sense about how the program has progressed over time.

The cost data graphic is also a bit confusing and not totally in-sync with other information displayed. The graph is labeled as percentage variance from planned cost, but I found some projects where the detailed numbers seem to indicate that the project is under running its costs, but the dashboard is showing that it is overrunning.

If you muck about the site, a couple of things are apparent. First, IT programs try like the dickens to stay within their cost estimates. It is clear that schedules are routinely traded off to stay within project costs.

Unfortunately, the site doesn't show functional capability being delivered (or originally promised), so you can't see how much in terms of program requirements are being traded off to meet both cost and schedule estimates, but it is likely a lot. For this dashboard to be truly useful, it will need to show a baseline functional capability proposed and actually being delivered.

Second, you can also see the games government IT programs play to stay in the green, especially in terms of making sure you don't exceed 10% of your cost estimate which will turn you from a green to a yellow. It is interesting how many programs are right up to that 10% mark but aren't over it.

Third it looks like at first blush that the Department of Transportation CIO is more optimistic about the department's IT projects' potential for success than the raw numbers indicate. A lot of what appear to be red projects are viewed as actually being only yellow. The US Department of Agriculture CIO also seems a bit more optimistic than the raw numbers indicate.

Only the VA CIO seems to ready to take President Ronald Reagan's advice: Trust but verify, and don't be afraid to see what you see.

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code with a single strand of "spaghetti code" being pulled from the top of the frame in a neverending loop on a blue gradient background.
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less