IT Projects: Major Successes and Epic Failures

By Dennis McCafferty
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    Success: The Condor Cluster

    Success: The Condor Cluster

    In 2010, the Department of Defense developed a supercomputer capable of calculating 500 trillion floating point operations per second for less than one-tenth the cost of comparable devices. It was pieced together using 1,760 PlayStation 3s.

We often read about how government IT projects constantly run over budget, miss deadlines and encounter enormous difficulties. But, upon closer inspection, you may find that the public sector's track record on tech advances reflects a more balanced perspective: It includes major successes along with epic failures. (That probably sounds very familiar to IT professionals in private industry, as well.) With this in mind, the recent book, F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation (HarperBusiness/available now), showcases the following three government technology project successes as well as three failures. In addition to summarizing each project's eventual outcome, author Dan Ward presents helpful takeaways so IT teams in a government agency or industry sector can better recognize the underlying dynamics that drive positive results. Ward is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force who has specialized in researching, developing and fielding military equipment. He has worked in the Air Force Research Lab, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan, for which he received the Bronze Star.

This article was originally published on 2014-06-02
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.
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