A recent post in the Public CIO blog asks the question, "Can IT keep government sustainable?"
The answer is not simple and is problematic as long as many in government continue to look at IT primarily as a cost center as is typical in government organizations, particularly those which are appropriated. I have many examples where IT has produced millions of dollars of savings to the business operation and yet IT costs continue to be scrutinized in many cases well beyond other types of costs. Perhaps that is because there are too many examples of IT projects gone awry. You hear of the $54 million DMV project that is scrapped, influence peddling by CIOs, and other stories that make it difficult for IT to deliver on its promise. We also often fail to identify the benifits that derive from IT initiatives in a way that is quantifiable. IT must get beyond these pitfalls if it is to provide an answer to this question of sustainability.
In a companion article, the author points out some examples such as a system in Idaho to track No Child Left Behind that had cost estimates swell from $21 million to $180 million (that's hard to believe for any system in Idaho). The original article in the New York Times mentioned that Utah has one of the most advanced student tracking systems in the country.