It's a political/managerial problem, not technical
While it's true that the private sector have large scale failed IT projects, the cause of private vs public sector (and especially the Federal area) have some significant differences, though some are the same. In the Federal government, high level agency or department heads are often political appointees, who have no or little experience in the agency, or managing large enterpeises at all. In house career Federal employees who might have years of experience and organization domain experience and knowlede are ignored. It's the patronage, or spoils sytem. Recall in Katrina episode that former President Bush told America that "Brownie was dong a great job."
So, Number 1, incompetence at the highest levels. In the private sector, while this does happen, it is much less frequent. The President and his agency chief clearly were not watching this high profile project.
Secondly, number 2, the Federal government's purchasing and expendiures are not based on the same principles as in the private sector. Federal procurement has an economic stimulus and social function, to support and encourage businesses. The procurement process is moribund in many, but not not all agencies. Large Federal contractors are making $Billions feeding at the Federal trough, while Federal employees are criticized.
Number 3, outsourcing. Given number 2 above, developing and nurturing in house Federal employee skill and competence is actually discouraged, in favor of paying twice as much for contractors, who will pass the buck and maximize their profit. In the private sector, one tries to minimize expense. In the current Federal set up, the contractor's goal is to increase costs.
Col. Mark Douglas' put down on our having a competent government in favor of feeding government contractors because of the 'inherant goverment' kanard is just a bogus red herring used to subvert govenment to become a lackie to coporations. It is not in the constitution. Eisenhower warned about the 'military industrial' complex, which can now be expanded to the 'business industrial' complex, or medical-business complex.
Critics of governement ought to at least realize why it is so imcompetent, because it profits many by being that way, and thus it is kept cripled to the advantage of some, and loss to others.
What is pathetic about this failure is that it is totally self inflicted by our highest level leaders.
Some folks will be making a lot of money in over budget costs on this fiasco. The question is not techincal, or whether to shut down for repairs or fix in flight, (those questions are moot, and techie questions, but not project mangement questions) but rather how can top government leaders be so incompetent and why have we allowed our governament to be taken over by corporations that have only their own private interests at stake? And how have we allowed our system to reward self serving interests while ignoring the commong good?
It's a total contradiction that a private entity, like a government contractor, with its own profit-seeking-at-all-costs motivation be able to deliver a service for the common good that is not to its own advantage. And, it's not that self interest profit seeking is bad, it's just deluded to expect action contracy to its own charter and interest.