One glitch in a scheme is forgivable. It may just be bad luck. But a second and you start to wonder.
And a third failure prompts serious questions about whether there is something fundamentally wrong.
Earlier in the month, the ACT's vaccine booking system was immediately inundated so much that it couldn't cope. Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith described the number of calls as "massive".
At one stage, average wait times on the phone for some were three hours - three hours.
The authorities later explained that an automated message had incorrectly stated the main vaccine booking line was closed. Another technical error meant calls to the booking line were diverted to an incorrect message and then terminated. That issue was resolved within 20 minutes.
This by itself should not be a cause for concern. Public servants and politicians had been working day and night to get complex systems up and running in an unprecedented situation. They have been tireless in the service of the public.
And little that's new works completely smoothly. There are invariably teething problems. The skill is in putting them right quickly. With the vaccine booking scheme, the evidence is that this is what happened.
But there have been two more glitches involving the ACT government.
Back in December, it launched its first version of the ChooseCBR scheme where shoppers could get discounts on goods in participating Canberra shops. The admirable aim was to help local businesses faced with what might have been a collapse in demand for their wares.
There are now questions about whether the ACT government is being too ambitious.
But the uptake of the scheme was poor. Over the three weeks of the trial, only $310,000 of the available $500,000 was spent.
So we get to glitch number three, the most serious. Far from being underwhelmed, the new, improved version of the ChooseCBR voucher scheme was so popular that it was overwhelmed.
Stores complained that they couldn't access the website in order to reclaim the money from the government when shoppers had presented discount vouchers. Some businesses pulled out.
The ACT government has "paused" the scheme for a week. "Work on the system will focus on the database to increase its ability to deal with the very large volume of customer and business activity that we have experienced," the ACT's Minister for Business Tara Cheyne said.
In plain English that means: "We got the figures wrong. We miscalculated how popular our scheme would be."
But surely one of the first questions any planner of a new internet-based scheme should ask would be about capacity. "Can we cope if lots of people use it?"
Canberrans can applaud the sterling work of the ACT government. The fact that life in Canberra has seemed more normal than it has in virtually any other city anywhere is a testament to its work.
But there are now questions about whether the ACT government is being too ambitious on its limited human and financial resources. Might the government need to swallow its pride and co-operate with New South Wales for schemes involving complicated technology? Does it have the staff and money?
There certainly needs to be a quiet sit down by the heads of department and, just as importantly, the people lower down with expertise. They need to conduct a constructive, cool assessment of whether three glitches adds up to a run of bad luck or something more fundamental which needs fixing.
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