A Tech Free State of the Union

Larry Downing/AP

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The president’s speech glossed over the troubled state of government technology and procurement.

Soon before President Obama took the stage for tonight’s State of the Union address, GovLoop founder Steve Ressler asked Twitter how likely the president was to mention government technology or procurement reform.

I predicted that HealthCare.gov, the administration’s once-troubled online health insurance exchange that’s been in generally good working order since Dec. 1 was likely to get at least a shout out.

It turns out I was wrong. The president did praise his signature healthcare reform law for barring insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. And he renewed his pledge to work with Republicans to fine tune the law if they would stop voting to repeal it.

He even made a personal appeal to American citizens to sign up for health insurance before a March 31 enrollment deadline.

Following a year in which government technology forced its way into the national conversation, though, the president made no mention of the troubled technology behind HealthCare.gov. Nor did he say a word about fixing the byzantine contracting process that helped lead to the website’s spectacular crash.

The other big government technology story of the year -- revelations about the National Security Agency’s snooping into private computer networks -- won a passing mention in the president’s renewed pledge to “reform our surveillance programs -- because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated.”

Obama also praised technological innovation in the private sector and public-private partnerships, including the expansion of broadband to rural schools.

With government programs ever more reliant on technology to operate properly -- and with HealthCare.gov as exhibit number one -- let’s hope the White House conversation during the remainder of 2014 focuses more on technology than the State of the Union did.