I’m From the Government’s IT Department, and I’m Here to Help
Ronald Reagan said the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” For those of us who care about things like sound fiscal stewardship of taxpayer dollars, a close second may be “I’m from the government’s IT Department, and I’m here to help.”
Let’s back up a moment before we get to that. You’re on a computer right now. At some point in time, it’s probably been infected with malware. Heck, it probably is right now. But at some point you probably actually did something about. What did you do, may I ask? Did you take a sledge hammer to it? Chuck it out a 3rd story window? I imagine not, as that’s an expensive and unnecessary solution when you can just run a bit of free (or cheap) software and be rid of the problem.
But government bureaucrats don’t do things the easy way, nor do they care about wasting money. After all, it’s not their money. Here’s what they did when faced with the same problem according to the Department of Commerce’s Office of Inspector General (Hat-tip: Gizmodo):
EDA’s CIO concluded that the risk, or potential risk, of extremely persistent malware and nation-state activity (which did not exist) was great enough to necessitate the physical destruction of all of EDA’s IT components. EDA’s management agreed with this risk assessment and EDA initially destroyed more than $170,000 worth of its IT components,21 including desktops, printers, TVs, cameras, computer mice, and keyboards. By August 1, 2012, EDA had exhausted funds for this effort and therefore halted the destruction of its remaining IT components, valued at over $3 million. EDA intended to resume this activity once funds were available. However, the destruction of IT components was clearly unnecessary because only common malware was present on EDA’s IT systems.
This is astonishing even by government standards. They literally had to run out of money in order to stop destroying their own equipment over a little bit of malware. That’s like trying to amputate all your limbs over a few mosquito bites, but stopping at just taking off one only because you ran out of saws.
Keep this in mind the next time you’re told that spending can’t possibly be cut by 2% without ending life on this planet as we know it.