The Pentagon has the worst IT helpdesk in the US govt

DoD is dead last for tech support, equipment, communication, and function, say staff

Updated When it comes to US government employee satisfaction with IT services, one agency finds itself continually at the bottom of the heap: The rather crucial Department of Defense.

Results from the General Services Administration's (GSA) Mission-Support Customer Satisfaction Survey published on Wednesday found the DoD was trailing the other 23 US federal government agencies included in the research. Of the seven technology user areas surveyed, the DoD came dead last in user satisfaction for IT support, equipment, function, and communication/collaboration. 

The DoD didn't fare much better in the three areas it wasn't scraping the bottom, either. For strategic IT partnerships and development, modernizations and enhancement the Defense Department ranked twentieth (out of 24), and for operations and maintenance satisfaction it beat the US Department of Agriculture - barely - on the seven-point scale used by the GSA.

Despite its abysmal ranking among its fellow federal agencies, the DoD's users were still generally okay with their IT service, with 65 percent of respondents saying they were at least somewhat satisfied with IT support, and 64.5 percent expressing some degree of satisfaction with their IT equipment. Only development, modernization and enhancement failed to net 50 percent satisfaction among DoD respondents.

We note that the majority of survey respondents come from the upper echelons of the 15-level General Scale of US government pay grades and have been with the DoD for eight or more years.

Seniors surveyed, rank and file respond

DoD IT might seem great to those at the senior levels, but it's been a mess from the perspective of the rank and file for some time - one only needs to look at a Twitter/X post from last year by former US Air Force official, and current DoD Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office deputy, Michael Kanaan. 

Kanaan highlighted "recent servicemember frustrations regarding computers in the DoD," who reported issues including hour-long login times, hour-plus delays from logging in to Outlook actually opening, $100 desktop PCs, and similar nightmares. 

"We can't solve problems with the same tools that made them … and yet somehow fundamental IT funding is still an afterthought," Kanaan said. "It's not a money problem, it's a priority problem." 

As a former member of the US Army's rank and file, your humble vulture can attest to some misplaced budgetary priorities among the Department of Defense.

While it's been nearly 20 years since your correspondent left the military, it was generally accepted among the troops even then - before IT came to dominate every facet of our lives as it does now - that the roughly one-sixth of the US federal budget going to national defense would be spent on shiny new warfighting tech, not on workstations, individual equipment, or better transportation on the battlefield.

The DoD was asked for its take on the results, as well as what it planned to do to address its poor employee IT satisfaction compared to other departments. We will update this story if we hear back. ®

Updated to add

"The DoD CIO is working to establish a User Experience (UX) Portfolio Management Office (PfMO) in support of the Department's objectives to provide a holistic approach to manage UX as a portfolio that ensures a consistent and focused effort with result-driven measures and accountability," a spokesperson told The Register after publication.

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