Amazon’s EC2 cloud storage service suffered a significant outage in April that lasted more than a day, reminding even the most ardent supporters of cloud computing that no technology is bulletproof. The service disruption didn’t appear to scare off some government adopters though. In fact, the federal government’s “cloud first” posture could be a harbinger of the future. But some observers said public-sector customers should at least proceed cautiously.
Details of one of the biggest alleged fraud cases in the history of technology procurement emerged in 2011. Unsealed documents showed that 11 people and one company — most of them contractors — who were working on New York City’s CityTime project, a new Web-based payroll tracking systems, are alleged to have overbilled and been involved in kickbacks. The project’s cost ballooned from $63 million to more than $600 million. A city official said last month that they would support reforming how technology projects are monitored and managed.
A state law passed last summer required all student-teacher messaging and communication through online forums — such as Facebook — to be publicly available. The legislation was drafted to prevent the possibility of inappropriate behavior. But the Missouri State Teachers Association sued to block the law, claiming it would have a chilling effect on teachers’ ability to use social media and online resources for instructional purposes. In October, Gov. Jay Nixon repealed a portion of the law, but school districts are still required to have a written policy in place next year.
A law passed in North Carolina in May effectively killed any chance of starting new municipally owned broadband networks in the state. Unsurprisingly Internet service providers supported the legislation, which imposed restrictions and tax burdens on new muni broadband efforts. The assistant city manager of Salisbury, N.C., called the law “a cable monopoly protection bill.” Some operators of existing municipal broadband networks said they were now hesitant to expand because of the legislation.
An experimental plane capable of going 13,000 mph was lost after it disappeared Aug. 11 after being launched from a rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 was the fastest aircraft ever built. DARPA officials said the agency will try again.
Gov. Jerry Brown shut down the state’s transparency website in November because there was a lack of up-to-date information being posted. The website lasted less than two years. State officials defended the move, saying the information — such as salary data — was still available elsewhere online. Could this be the start of a trend? Government is learning that transparency costs money.