Recently at the Gov 2.0 summit Fed CIO Viveck Kundra talked about stopping/killing some very expensive .gov IT programs, video here:Gov 2.0 Summit 2010: Aneesh Chopra and Vivek Kundra, "Closing the Technology Gap"
But I was left wondering what were the programs and more over why killed? Oftentimes federal (and military) IT programs will be killed or left to die, without a postmortem or documeting lessons learned. Sometimes an intrepid reporter will try to one, but that usually just scratches the surface. GAO or internal Government offices will sometimes do them if asked to by Congress, but GAO reports are usually only for the largest of the large failing programs. .Gov internal reports are usually not published or done, much less published.
Its always struck me as weird that the government doesn't push more of a lessons learned culture like the one ingrained in the military (but sadly not in the military IT field). We do this for plane crashes, but there doesn't seem to be a systematic process for documenting IT failure?
(if there is please post)
I'm hoping that Viveck and Team can come up with some sort of simplified lessons learned document, this would do a few things:
1. Put government / contractors on notice that failure will be documented, like Gunnar says "The gov doesn't look good Naked" but it might be in better shape if it was
2. Learn, Learn, Learn: doomed to repeat mistakes if we don't learn
3. Gather requirements for potential changes in process, law, promotion schedules, etc. IF need be
A lessons learned doc should include: original cost of program (estimate and contractor proposed), original period of performance, winning contractor team, dollars spent, government intellectual property developed, reasons for cancellation, etc. I'd put a floor on the study and get a small team 2-3 weeks to prepare a doc, maybe only document failure under $ xx millions?
Or maybe this would be better as a wiki somewhere?
thoughts? unworkable? makes folks too uncomfortable?