Government & the Information Age

The way it was at the turn of the century…

The defense department decided that they should own engineering designs.  If they owned the designs, they could go out for bid to choose who would get the contract to manufacture.  They hoped the bid process would reduce the costs of the items.

They had a system in place called JEDMICS [joint engineering data management information and control system].  Talk about big data – there were about 30 primary databases and about 100 tertiary databases.  The data was stored on platters.

If you wanted the documentation for a weapon system, you would log into the primary databases until you found it.  Even if you found it, you wouldn’t know if it was the latest released so you would have to log into all of the 130 or so databases to make sure you had the right data.

Once you knew where the file was, you would request the documentation.  That request went to another location where a person would look up that file and retrieve the appropriate platter.  They would gather the files from the platter and they would typically be printed and sent as hard copy.  They were only beginning to look into ways to send the documentation electronically.

The JEDMICS software was written by a federal software contractor.  The military would have liked this process to be more simple, but the effort required to get the contractor to change their approach was tiresome.

The way it could be today…

We proposed a single web based user interface that would front the 130 or so databases.  It would allow a single query to be made and the results would appear on a single page.  At that point, the user interface would allow them to select the names of the bidders.  The software would package up the drawings [either hard copies or soft copies depending on the bidder requirements] and send them off.

The federal software contractor was not happy with this solution [they would lose $hundreds of thousands] and put up a big enough stink to stop the effort.

My thoughts…

Even at the turn of the century, the information age was well underway and the government barely embraced any of it.

The companies and people inside the government and their contractors really didn’t want change.  The contractors were making a good living and really didn’t want to change.  The government people that wanted change didn’t want it bad enough to fight for it.

This is representative of most of the government departments/organizations.

If the government actually took advantage of the tools available to them in the information age, I expect it could save them [us] $hundreds of billions.

Your thoughts…

Do you have any similar experiences to share?


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