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Top 7 Tech Turkeys of 2012

Here's a look at some of our most disappointing stories of 2012.

by , / November 21, 2012
Illustration by Tom McKeith

It’s Thanksgiving, which means it’s time for turkey. So today, we’re serving up a steaming platter of “tech turkeys” in honor of the holiday. Join us for a look at some of our biggest disappoints of 2012.

1. Florida Pulls the Plug on its Enterprise Technology Agency … Again

In June, a dispute between Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers killed the Florida Agency for Enterprise Information Technology (AEIT). Legislators passed a bill that would have abolished the AEIT and created a new IT agency with a narrower mission, but Scott vetoed the bill, arguing that it was too restrictive. That action defunded the AEIT, forcing the state to close its central technology agency for the second time in seven years.

2. South Carolina Breach Exposes Millions of Taxpayer Records

The South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) announced in October that large-scale cyberattacks had left millions of customer records vulnerable. A series of attacks on the DOR, which serves the state’s population of more than 4.6 million, exposed 3.6 million Social Security numbers, as well as credit and debit card information supplied to the agency by state taxpayers. As a result of the scandal, DOR Director James Etter announced he'll be stepping down at year's end.

3. Catch 22: Cyber Crime Claims the Job of Respected Utah CIO 

Utah CIO Steve Fletcher resigned in May after state IT officials discovered that health and Medicaid data for nearly 800,000 residents had been stolen from a poorly secured server operated by the Utah Department of Technology Services. Fletcher said he struggled for security funds even though cyber threats had spiked for months leading up to the incident.   

4. Indiana vs. IBM -- Nobody Wins … and Taxpayers Lose

In July, an Indiana judge turned down the state’s bid to collect $437 million from IBM in a long-running dispute over a failed welfare system upgrade. Marion County Judge David Dreyer also turned down damages for IBM, attributing the project’s failure to “misguided government policy and overzealous corporate ambition." 

5. New York CityTime Scandal Nets $500 Million Settlement

In March, the lead contractor for New York City’s automated workforce management system agreed to a $500 million settlement with the U.S. Attorney. The contractor -- McLean, Va.-based Science Applications International Corp. -- also acknowledged illegal conduct by employees working on the CityTime system, which was projected to cost $63 million and later ballooned to more than $600 million.

6. Congress Fails to Approve Federal Cyber Security Act 

Cybersecurity legislation that would give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the power to create a framework for securing critical private-sector infrastructure was introduced in mid-February and met with much dissatisfaction just a week later. In May, the White House unveiled new proposed cybersecurity legislation that was riddled with compromises and continued work on the bill through July. The Senate turned it down (again) in early August. In late September, Sen. Joe Lieberman sponsored a new, more modest version of the bill in November, which also failed in the Senate days later.

7. LightSquared's National Mobile Wireless Network Bites the Dust  

The federal government killed off LightSquared’s plan to build a nationwide mobile wireless network that would feature the 4G/long term evolution cellular standard. In mid-February, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration told the FCC there was “no practical way to mitigate the potential interference” that LightSquared’s mobile broadband network would cause to existing GPS equipment. Months later, the company declared bankruptcy, but despite the financial trouble, proposed a spectrum sharing program that would allow the company to use the weather balloon band. Perhaps national wireless will fare better in 2013. Illustration by Tom McKeith

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Steve Towns

Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic. 

Jessica Mulholland Former Web Editor/Photographer

Jessica Mulholland served as the Web editor of Government Technology magazine from October 2012 through September 2017. She worked for the Government Technology editorial team for nearly 10 years.

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