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Personally I’m as flabbergasted as the Labrats regarding this gem of news.

Basically a committee compiled a report which suggested as much as 5 billion in government money is being wasted on ICT projects. That’s an absurd amount of money and yet new projects get created and then they blow out of proportion to the point of it being silly. Or they have to get trashed because it’s not up to spec.

The main issue with her comment is ‘when’ she said it. She stated the moment of getting the report that she had to Google what ICT meant. Most likely she ‘meant’ it as a sort of joke. But it’s possibly the worst kind of joke you can make in a situation like this. It implies that she feels ICT is all one major joke.

This is by the way the first major issue as to why government ict projects go overboard like this. A lot of the politicians in charge, don’t have even the slightest grasp of the technology they use everyday. This is of course because the people who are interested in technology have little interest with being in politics.  (I count myself in that group)

As a result they have to rely on the advise of others tell them how and what. Here’s where things get more finicky. Because I have a background in coding with several years of experience I can tell if someone knows what he’s talking about or not. However if one doesn’t have that knowledge then you will believe a person you ‘trust’ on other fields. This is essentially related to the Dunning-Kruger effect. Basically the less you know about something the less you are able to judge your own competence, but also that of others.

Another major part of these ict projects is that they’re required to through a public spending bid. Where companies can place a bid on the project and the winning company gets to make it. I’ve seen bids like this and the requirements are often more ‘business’ related rather than technical expertise.

So they want to know how big the company is, it’s financial records, etc. Basically they want to know if the company is going to be around for the next ten years in case something breaks down. The computer industry isn’t very standardized there are many ways to come to a certain solution and not all are the best. There’s also no mandated certification (which is both good and bad). It should be noted that quality of these larger companies tends to vary, but I do know that it takes a certain type of personality to feel at home in larger ICT companies.

A lot of shenanigans go on with these public bids. The first is obvious nepotism, even when these bids are designed to prevent nepotism. The second is that companies sort of make a gamble of bidding as low as they dare, then once they get the bid, and it’s written in stone they can inflate the costs of the project as it goes on. Since the government is to a large degree tied to the company they have to go along with it.

But let’s not forget about the countless people involved in a single project. Who each have their ideas and opinions. I’ve seen projects where ten people were involved and we spend several hours discussing one minute little detail. Or you get the aforementioned people who don’t know what they’re talking about giving their opinions on things. While listening to people they can’t hope to properly judge in their knowledge.

Still that’s only a small portion of the multitude of issues that arise when dealing with government ICT projects.

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