5 Government IT Projects That Were Multi-Multi-Million-Dollar Failures

(Photo credit: Vladislav Reshetnyak, via Pexels)

(Photo credit: Vladislav Reshetnyak, via Pexels)

"While IT investments have the potential to improve lives and organizations, federally funded IT projects can -- and, too often, have -- become risky, costly and unproductive mistakes."

That's a line from a new report from the Government Accountability Office that took an incisive look at how the U.S. government spends tens of billions of dollars on IT support each year -- over $90 billion in 2016, for instance.

Related: $840 Million By Sundown, a Snapshot in Defense Contracting

The report, which focuses on the failure of some government offices to include IT contracts in their acquisition data, also happens to mention five spectacular IT project failures. 

Hold on to your wallet, taxpayer, because here they are:

- In 2011, after spending $231 million, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) canceled its Retirement Systems Modernization program. It was the third attempt to "automate the processing of federal employee retirement claims."

- In 2010 the U.S. Coast Guard sought to replace its "aging" electronic health records system. Five years and $67 million later, they scrapped the idea. The current system is paper-based, GAO says.

- The same year the Coast Guard was embarking on its ill-fated modernization, the White House pulled the plug on a much bigger failure: the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environment Satellite System. The government had already spent nearly $5 billion on it over 16 years before calling it quits.

- In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs gave up on its Scheduling Replacement Project after spending $127 million over nine years.

- Perhaps it's not the most well-known department, but the Farm Service Agency had the funds to spend over $420 million over 10 years on a modernization program that died an ignoble death in 2014.

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