A while back, I wrote about how the Government blew nearly RM 1 Billion ringgit on the MERS 999 system. A system that soaked up nearly Rm30 Million in consultancy cost alone–yet failed. The biggest issue I had with the MERS 999 system was that the government had a similar system called MyDistress, which not only worked well in the Klang Valley, but was given to the government free of charge by a company who was doing it as part of their CSR activities.
The analogy is simple.
You live next to a car salesman, and one day out of the blue, this lovely gentleman rings your doorbell and hands you the keys to a fully working brand new Toyota Camry. Yes, your neighbour has just given you–for FREE–working Toyota Camry to drive around. Now after using the Camry for a while, you decide to scrap this perfectly working car–and instead spend about RM1 Million buying a 2nd-hand Proton Wira with broken power windows and an engine–that doesn’t start. You don’t even tell your neighbour you’ve scraped his car, or offer the new business for your purchase. That’s exactly what the Government did when it embarked on the MERS999 program.
No of course, IT failures aren’t unique to our government alone. If you’ve watched the news in the US, you’d notice that one of President Obama’s main thrust has always been Universal healthcare, and the core enabler of universal healthcare was going to be a website aptly named healthcare.gov. Unfortunately, healthcare.gov was plagued by issues ever since it launched, and it too cost some couple hundred million dollars. The failure of healthcare.gov has resulted in a huge amount of soul-searching in government IT spending, and many reasons were cited for its failure.
That being said, governments do what they always do–spend more money. So after basically firing CGI Federal from the contract, the government went to procure the services of Accenture for a cool 91 Million US dollars. That may sound like a lot, but it’s just a paltry Rm300 million, around 33% of the cost the Malaysian government pumped in MERS 999. Accenture have until Mar-2014 to fix the issues with Healthcare.gov, failing which, the consequences could be quite severe for the US federal government.
Only time will tell if this move was right, but what is undoubtedly true at least, is that governments both home and abroad, aren’t that wise when it comes to IT spending.