DHS Learns the Hard Way: Alienate Users at IT's Risk

Ann All

Some folks no doubt see the Department of Homeland Security's recent decision to scrap a $42 million data-mining initiative as just another milestone in the federal government's pretty woeful record of IT project management.


The DHS was one of three federal agencies singled out in a 2006 President's Management Council report as being unable to justify even half of their IT investments. One of the other two agencies, the Veterans Affairs Department, took a turn in the bad publicity barrel last year after several losses of unencrypted (duh) data.


While the privacy concerns raised by the botched project are troubling, the agency's blatant disregard of requirements like, oh say, business plans and budgets is even worse in a way. Guess it's not so surprising that the government continues to grapple with such common private-sector strategies as shared services and service-level agreements.


One of the biggest problems highlighted by ZDNet blogger Michael Krigsman, who bases his analysis on a DHS report about the failed initiative, is a striking inattention to end-user needs and failure to communicate with said users. That same error has likely crippled countless IT initiatives, as we've blogged previously.


Seeking user input is always a good idea, as is communicating to them the value that they as individuals as well as the entire organization will enjoy from a tech initiative. This and lots of other good advice about winning user buy-in is found in our June interview with ISM Inc. President Barton Goldenberg, Increase Odds of User Buy-In with the 3x Factor.

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Sep 11, 2007 3:45 AM Michael Krigsman Michael Krigsman  says:
Thanks for the comments about the DHS project. The poor level of planning, and the blatant disregard for basic project management is shocking. Maybe a $42 million waste is small for DHS, but it sure seems large to me.Michael Krigsmanhttp://blogs.zdnet.com/projectfailures Reply

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