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The Federal HIT Project Hall of Shame

By July 29, 2013Commentary

If you wonder why we and others are skeptical about the virtues of big government, just read the Government Accounting Office’s report on federal information technology projects.   (GAO Report)    According to the GAO, billions of dollars have been completely wasted in software and hardware projects that have had to be abandoned and billions more is at risk in projects that are behind schedule, over budget and poorly managed.  These projects include, as might be expected, many in the health arena.  Among the most significant of the health failures is the Veterans affairs effort to move to a new architecture for its electronic health records, which spent $1.9 billion and had to be terminated.  Both Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have a long history of failed IT projects, often around EHRs, and have been completely unable to create a single longitudinal health record which would cover both active military and veterans.  The DOD’s attempt at an EHR has cost over $2 billion in 13 years with no real usable functionality for providers.  The VA tried to create a new scheduling system, spending $127 billion in nine years, only to have to terminate the project.   The waste of public dollars is not the only consequence of these pathetic IT projects; their failure also means that agencies are saddled with old, inefficient, expensive systems, which often perform poorly and require constant costly maintenance.  The federal government would be far better off to rely on and figure out how to use off the shelf software.  The agencies would then have better functionality faster and expensively.

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