A few days ago, President Obama was overheard complaining on an open microphone at a fundraiser that US Federal government IT was "horrible ... across the board." President Obama was soon backed up in his sentiment by Vivek Kundra, the Federal CIO, who was also quoted by Politico as saying, "Federal IT is horrible."
Many Risk Factor blog readers would undoubtedly agree with the sentiment, given just some of the US government IT projects I have posted about over the past several years that have been botched, bungled and or butchered (for a small sample set, see here, here, and here).
However, about six weeks ago, this ComputerWeeklystory reported that Professor Helen Margetts, from the Oxford Internet Institute, told a Public Administration Select Committee looking into "Good Governance: The Effective Use of IT," that her studies show "the UK to be an outlier both in egovernment performance and in the number and scale of IT disasters" in comparison to countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and even the United States.
The ComputerWeekly article described the situation in the UK as being "uniquely bad."
That led me to wondering about who really has the worst government IT: the US or the UK?
Having worked in both US and UK government IT sectors, it really is a difficult choice.
To try to settle the matter, we have set up a purely unscientific straw poll to determine the winner of "the worst government IT."
Feel free to support your vote or to provide a write-in vote using the comments section. Some Risk Factor blog readers from Australia may want equal consideration for the award, given Myki, the Queensland Health fiasco, and the LINK project.
By the way, in the UK, "government IT" usually covers IT used in civil and local government as well as defence. Therefore, to have a level playing field, when voting, consider that "US government IT" includes Federal, state and local governments. They have their own tales (see here and here) of disaster as well.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.