During a White House press briefing today, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert was speaking about the need of the government to better secure our data while simultaneously driving down the costs related to Information Technology. As The Gateway Pundit noted, “During Bossert’s remarks, he set the very unnerving calculation that every federal government employee costs the US tax payer $40,000 per year in technology costs alone.” Everyone reading this should have done a legitimate double take as you read the 40K per year per employee number. Furthermore having worked in the IT industry for close to 20 years every person reading this should be horrified by the sheer amount of your taxpayer dollars that are being inefficiently spent by the government doing what every business in the US does every day for a fraction of that cost.
Now I have seen surveys that pegs the per employee IT costs to an average of $1,526 according to Spiceworks. Their survey cites, “Average IT spend per employee ranged from $2,770 for small businesses with 19 or fewer employees to $698 for large companies with over 500 employees (average $1,526).” Having spent considerable portions of my career calculating this cost for executive presentations I think that this survey is on the low side. While it is feasible to make the above numbers work in certain circumstances I think the industry average is closer to the value cited in IDC Community study where they found that the industry average was $9,900 or roughly one-fourth of what government spends currently on per employee IT costs. The IDC Community study found that even in the best performing department in terms of this metric (Department of Veteran Affairs) the government was still spending $3,000 more annually per employee. Additionally, the same study found that in the worst performing department (Health and Human Services) that the value ballooned up to $187.5K per employee annually. It should not come as a surprise that the same department that spent over 2 billion dollars on a website to do some basic data retrieval and payment processing, which did not work correctly for several months, is the same department where this giant waste of taxpayer money is occurring.
The government based upon its size should be recognizing efficiencies and cost savings simply based upon economies of scale. Instead it like all government programs has ballooned out of control into an unsustainable black hole into which tax dollars are poured never to be seen again. In a time in which we have watched the costs associated with hardware, software, training and data storage all significantly decrease as the technology improves and becomes more efficient, we have watched government costs to supply technology support to government workers spiral out of control while the government systems themselves continue to age and become outdated. We as taxpayers need to demand that our government be good stewards of our tax dollars and this begins by holding these department heads accountable for the irresponsible fraud, waste and abuse that is occurring throughout their IT support systems.