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When Government Procurement Becomes a Matter of Life or Death

“One way to get people to stop paying attention to you, roll their eyes, and potentially pass out on the ground, is to say the word procurement to them,” said Clay Johnson, CEO of the Department of Better Technology and a Presidential Innovation Fellow. Yet despite – or perhaps because of – the low level of public awareness of government procurement issues, it’s extremely important that we begin to see innovation in this sphere.

“In the past month, at the federal level, I can count $2 billion worth of federal IT failures,” Johnson said. The lack of accountability when it comes to many failed government IT programs, and the fact that contractors often profit from these failures at taxpayer expense, merits a substantial public debate. And this isn’t just a fiscal problem: The issue of government procurement can be a life or death issue.

“When government isn’t good at IT, people start to die,” said Johnson. “Veterans are dying because we can’t get our situation [right] over at the VA.”

We need to fundamentally shift the way our government thinks about buying and implementing new technology. The cost of settling for the status quo is just too high.