Monday, February 13, 2017

Why Do British Columbians Keep Spending Millions And Millions And Millions Of Dollars On Junk IT?


Paul Ramsey, the smartest guy writing about government IT projects in the Lotuslandian Bloggodome, has completed one heckuva an analysis of why we just keep spending more and more while we get less and less (and less).

Always thorough and always fair, Paul lays out a number of contributing factors to this longterm travesty.

Here is one of them:

...A manager who successfully delivers a superb $4M IT project gets a celebratory dinner at the pub; a manager who brings even a terrible $140M IT project to “completion” can write her ticket in IT consulting.

The only downside of huge IT projects is that they fail to provide value to end-users a majority of the time, and of course they soak the taxpayers (or shareholders in the case of private sector IT failures, which happen all the time) for far more money than they should...

Now, it would be bad enough if this waste was happening on the inside, because at least then folks working for us might actually learn from the mistakes made.

Unfortunately, this is not the case because of, well...


Outsourcing that has hollowed out public service IT groups from the inside, sometimes on purpose at the hands of the BC Liberal government.

A concrete example of this is what happened to a successful publicly-generated IT project by the Saanich Public School system, a story that was tirelessly chased down awhile back by Lindsay Kines of the VTC:

Education Minister Peter Fassbender appears to have been working behind the scenes to discredit a computer system developed by the Saanich school district to track student grades, attendance and other records, documents show.

Despite stating publicly that districts were free to adopt a system of their choice, Fassbender sent a letter to directors of the B.C. School Trustees’ Association in February, advising them to steer clear of Saanich’s openStudent software.

In the letter, Fassbender accuses Saanich of trying to “undermine” the ministry’s own student information system, MyEducation B.C., by enticing districts to select openStudent. He then portrays openStudent as costly and incompatible.

“We believe that we have selected the best product to support the transformation of education in this province and I am very concerned there is misinformation being actively communicated through a variety of channels,” he states in the letter, which was obtained by the Times Colonist under B.C.’s freedom of information law...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Saanich began working on openStudent in 2011 with the goal of using local expertise to create a made-in-B.C. student information system. By using freely available open-source tools, officials believed they could develop the system for less than $5 million, with yearly maintenance pegged at less than $1 million.

The B.C. government, meanwhile, signed a 12-year deal with Fujitsu last fall to deliver MyEducation B.C. at a cost of up to $9.4 million a year.

Don't know about you all, but this kind of stuff just drives me crazy given the missed opportunities to build local expertise, increase efficiency, and keep our dollars in British Columbia.


How to fix the problem?

For that we go back to Paul Ramsey's piece:

...Government can build up a new IT workforce, and start building smaller projects, faster, and stop boiling the ocean, but they have to want to do it first. That’ll take some leadership, at the political level as well as in the civil service. IT revitalization is not a partisan thing, but neither is it an easy thing, or a sexy thing, so it’ll take a politician with some guts to make it a priority...

Go read Paul's entire post - you won't be sorry.



Anonymous said...

IPP and IT contracts

(Because it's Christmas every day and we are going to party like its 1999?)

Anonymous said...

oh yeah that thingy about BC buying software that the rest of provinces didnt

e.a.f. said...

loved the "because its Christmas every day and we are going toparty like its 1999". that is certainly how certain people play in this province and make tons of money while kids die in care. oh how wonderful life is..............when you're in the world of Christy.

Anonymous said...

In this day and age any government that spends money on proprietary software is committing a crime against their taxpayers.

Lenin's Ghost said...

Running BC like a business. I can think of 5 examples in my workplace where the company bought software packages at huge costs that could have created more simply and easily with an access or Excel program. Great for bonuses/kickbacks methinks.

Anonymous said...

IBM’s Watson proves useful at fighting cancer—except in Texas
Despite early success, MD Anderson ignored IT, broke protocols, spent millions.

by Beth Mole, Ars Technica

IBM’s Watson is on the move. With the new ability to quickly develop clever personalized treatment strategies for cancer patients, Watson is making its debut in hospitals around the world—from the US to India, Korea, and China. Earlier this month, a medical center in Jupiter, Florida, announced it too was welcoming the famed, Jeopardy-winning computing system into its hospital rooms.

But, there’s one place where Watson isn’t moving: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In fact, Watson is frozen there. And it’s more than just a computer glitch.

According to a blistering audit by the University of Texas System, the cancer center grossly mismanaged its splashy program with IBM, which started back in 2012. The program aimed to teach Watson how to treat cancer patients and match them to clinical trials. Watson initially met goals and impressed center doctors, but the project hit the rocks as MD Anderson officials snubbed their own IT experts, mishandled about $62 million in funding, and failed to follow basic procedures for overseeing contracts and invoices, the audit concludes.

IBM pulled support for the project back in September of last year."

Anonymous said...

Use of IHealth electronic records system suspended at Nanaimo hospital

Louise Dickson , Lindsay Kines / Times Colonist

February 21, 2017 06:01 AM
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