It seems like many times when a large government entity spends billions of dollars on a large IT project to consolidate or make more efficient the handling of lots of data, it frequently ends up in massive amounts of wasted money and failed projects, with lots of pork doled out to consultancies and middlemen, and in the worse cases ends up with the project abandoned entirely with all the money down the toilet. Many examples have been posted to /. in the last 10 years.
Are there some good cases of where the money was well spent, and a solid, cohesive working product came out of it?
Some of the root cause may be the politicizing of the contract process in the first place (beltway bandits and congress critters mandating a piece of the work go to their district) and the letting of cost-plus contracts. Other times may be the requirement to take the absolute lowest bidder, which ends up with someone who lowballed the job and cannot possibly execute it properly within the promised budget.
How does one properly motivate and direct a team under these conditions? The actual production of the software needs to be isolated from the politics above, and act as if they are working for a small company developing a new commercial website. With lack of competition - it's not like people can go to all those other government healthcare websites - a replacement incentive needs to be put in place if one wishes to tread down that path. In a monopoly situation, these are common problems. Highly centralized services do not take into account basic human nature.
Earlier in the last decade, there was a famous powerpoint slide that made the rounds within Aerospace circles. It was titled "SLI - The Work of a Nation" and showed which pieces of the Space Launch Initiative* were to be built in which congressional districts. It was the butt of many jokes as de-centralizing the production of such a complicated item always results in ballooning costs as it makes it extremely costly and difficult to integrate the various components. That may not be the case here but it's definitely seen in other federal projects.
* the then-current name for the over-bloated, impossibly expensive shuttle replacement heavy launch system now known as SLS - Senate Launch System as goes the joke.