FBI computer systems

When I first read last week about the problems with the FBI computer system overhaul, I was pissed at our government. $170M wasted, now another $2M to consultants to figure out why. What waste — and in an important system.

On further reflection, this is such an immature reaction on my part. It is the easy reaction. Today, on inauguration day, I am reminded of JFK’s words — “Ask not what your country can do for you; Ask what you can do for your country.”

Our industry should be reaching out to help the FBI. We can’t expect the FBI to be expert at IT, or to be able to necessarily hire or evaluate the best IT staff or consultants. It is not the FBI’s core competency. The FBI needs to solve a really big database problem — I bet there are people at MSFT, Oracle, Google who know something about these problems and could help.

I’m not dying to help the FBI build some huge tracking database for every citizen — but if they have the legal mandate to build something, and are going to build it, I certainly feel like we should help them spend our tax dollars wisely and get a system that does something useful.

Anyway — just a reminder to myself — it is not the government’s job to solve all our problems — it is our responsibility to pitch in and help solve the issues in our society that need solutions or that we are uniquely equipped to help solve.