You can spend hours scrolling down the rabbit hole of government IT horror stories, which makes the recent launch of the federal website for ordering free COVID tests that much more remarkable. The website worked, and it was surprisingly easy to use. But that success belies decades of underinvestment in digital transformation that has stifled public sector innovation and hardened the government's low-tech image. For example:
In the post-COVID world, the federal government spends about three-fourths of its technology budget maintaining aging computer systems including platforms more than 50 years old and even some that use floppy disks, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.