HealthCare.gov death march



  • Sounds like the classic mismanagement that all TDWTF readers are familiar with:

    [S]enior officials repeatedly expressed doubts that the computer systems for the federal exchange would be ready on time... Deadline after deadline was missed... By early this year, people inside and outside the federal bureaucracy were raising red flags.

    The Government Accountability Office... warned in June that many challenges had to be overcome before the Oct. 1 rollout.

    Mr. Chao’s superiors at the Department of Health and Human Services told him, in effect, that failure was not an option... Nor was rolling out the system in stages or on a smaller scale, as companies like Google typically do so that problems can more easily and quietly be fixed.

    Marilyn B. Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, both insisted in July that the project was not in trouble. Last month, Gary M. Cohen, the federal official in charge of health insurance exchanges, promised federal legislators that [the system would work] on Oct. 1.

    Developers: We need more time.

    Managers: LALALA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU! Failure is not an option! The project WILL roll out on [date]!

    One person familiar with the system’s development said that the project was now roughly 70 percent of the way toward operating properly, but that predictions varied on when the remaining 30 percent would be done.

    We all know what that really means. Ouch...

    Others warned that the fixes themselves were creating new problems, and said that the full extent of the problems might not be known...

    "These are not glitches," said an insurance executive who has participated in many conference calls on the federal exchange... "The extent of the problems is pretty enormous."

    A round-the-clock effort is under way [to resolve the problems before the mid-December deadline].

    Remind me: do massive government death marches ever end well?

    Worried about their reputations, contractors are now publicly distancing themselves from the troubled parts of the federally run project.

    (All quotes are from the New York Times)



  • We've seen this kind of thing happen so often that we've pretty much become numb to it. Governments tend to find very creative ways to cock up software projects, they should be banned from any involvement.

    It's full of WTFs, but it's not surprising in the least. It's not original or funny, it's just sad really.



  • Normally I abhor websites that blare audio, but in the case of healthcare.gov I would make an exception for some Benny Hill-style Yakety Sax. Note that this doesn't go into the WTFs of the 14 states that implemented their own exchanges.



  • @DoctaJonez said:

    We've seen this kind of thing happen so often that we've pretty much become numb to it. GovernmentsManagement tends to find very creative ways to cock up software projects, they should be banned from any involvement.

    FTFY



  • @boomzilla said:

    posted from Excel


    Filed under: should have used Excel



  • @Ronald said:

    @boomzilla said:
    posted from Excel


    Filed under: should have used Excel

    Nice!



  • @Ronald said:

    @boomzilla said:
    posted from Excel


    Filed under: should have used Excel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq9EV2fYF2E

     











  • He's complaining/pointing out that the site wasn't built by people who know what they're doing. It would've made sense to find a firm with a solid knowledge of web application design/programming, rather than who they'd worked with before. Could've been better built by Wipro.



  • @heterodox said:

    whinging

    Wow, british people insert random consonants too?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Ben L. said:

    @heterodox said:
    whinging

    Wow, british people insert random consonants too?
    What? Or are you spelling it 'wat' these days?



  • @PJH said:

    @Ben L. said:
    @heterodox said:
    whinging

    Wow, british people insert random consonants too?

    What? Or are you spelling it 'wat' these days?

    wat



  • @Ben L. said:

    @heterodox said:
    whinging

    Wow, british people insert random consonants too?

    At least they don't have cool wfwhip



  • @Circuitsoft said:

    He's complaining/pointing out that the site wasn't built by people who know what they're doing. It would've made sense to find a firm with a solid knowledge of web application design/programming, rather than who they'd worked with before. Could've been better built by Wipro.

    Yeah, and I don't see any evidence of that. The government contractors in question are huge and I can immediately spot at least four or five that have at least some good track record with web application design and programming at a divisional level. I wonder if in this case it wasn't more the number of contractors that had to interoperate.



  • @Circuitsoft said:

    TechDirt: Why Healthcare.gov Sucks? Because They Hired Political Cronies, Not Internet Native Companies To Build It

    That article does raise an interesting point about the "consulting firms" vs "internet native companies". I always found it odd that there was such a divide in software, such that "enterprise quality" can be used both as a compliment and as an insult depending on where you are.

    I wonder if there are serious studies about that? Comparing quality of software that companies build for themselves vs software they make for other companies, for example. Or just software marketed as "enterprise" vs software that isn't.



  • @anonymous234 said:

    I always found it odd that there was such a divide in software, such that "enterprise quality" can be used both as a compliment and as an insult depending on where you are.

    No.

    "enterprise quality" is a buzzword.

    "enterprisey" is an insult.



  • @heterodox said:

    I wonder if in this case it wasn't more the number of contractors that had to interoperate.

    That's possible. However, if you follow the links to their source, they admit that they aren't sure what all of the contracts were for. But given the descriptions, they definitely weren't all for the healthcare.gov portal. Obamacare is a massive thing that goes way beyond that web page.

    And the incompetence of the government to even figure out what they want the developers to do shouldn't be underestimated. HHS was dragging its feet on even coming up with the rules and regulations that would dictate the business logic, hoping that more states would jump in and provide their own exchanges. Plus, agencies were put in charge that had no clue about web development. Web firms with a clue, who aren't used to the WTFs of working with the Feds probably stayed far far away from the mess. You really need your own bureaucracy to fight back against the Feds' bureaucracies or you'll be lost.

    TRWTF is that the guys responsible for the part that's really sucking, CGI, got a sole source contract, which means there was no competition for it. I'd love to read the justification for that, but AFAIK, it hasn't been made public yet.



  • @boomzilla said:

    TRWTF is that the guys responsible for the part that's really sucking, CGI, got a sole source contract, which means there was no competition for it. I'd love to read the justification for that, but AFAIK, it hasn't been made public yet.

    CGI Federal, that is (not a Canadian company). And I wasn't too surprised by that; CGI Federal manages quite a lot of government Web sites. I was surprised by this poor implementation though, regardless of how many hits the Web site got.



  • @heterodox said:

    @boomzilla said:

    TRWTF is that the guys responsible for the part that's really sucking, CGI, got a sole source contract, which means there was no competition for it. I'd love to read the justification for that, but AFAIK, it hasn't been made public yet.

    CGI Federal, that is (not a Canadian company). And I wasn't too surprised by that; CGI Federal manages quite a lot of government Web sites. I was surprised by this poor implementation though, regardless of how many hits the Web site got.

    Yes, I know who they are, and their winning such a contract wouldn't surprise me. But a lot of companies manage government web sites and don't get sole source contracts like this. I think they run the medicare stuff, and probably someone said, "Hey, these guys already know about web + health care! Only they can possibly do this!" I'm sure someone will file a FOIA request and publicize the result now that the Feds are reopening their doors.



  • More explanation:

    @Politico said:

    Facing such intense opposition from congressional Republicans, the administration was in a bunker mentality as it built the enrollment system, one former administration official said. Officials feared that if they called on outsiders to help with the technical details of how to run a commerce website, those companies could be subpoenaed by Hill Republicans, the former aide said. So the task fell to trusted campaign tech experts.

    It's the political version of the CEO's nephew.



  • @boomzilla said:

    More explanation:

    @Politico said:

    Facing such intense opposition from congressional Republicans, the administration was in a bunker mentality as it built the enrollment system, one former administration official said. Officials feared that if they called on outsiders to help with the technical details of how to run a commerce website, those companies could be subpoenaed by Hill Republicans, the former aide said. So the task fell to trusted campaign tech experts.

    It's the political version of the CEO's nephew.


    What exactly could the "Hill Republicans" sue the tech company that theoretically did a good job for?



  • @Ben L. said:

    @boomzilla said:
    More explanation:

    @Politico said:

    Facing such intense opposition from congressional Republicans, the administration was in a bunker mentality as it built the enrollment system, one former administration official said. Officials feared that if they called on outsiders to help with the technical details of how to run a commerce website, those companies could be subpoenaed by Hill Republicans, the former aide said. So the task fell to trusted campaign tech experts.

    It's the political version of the CEO's nephew.

    What exactly could the "Hill Republicans" sue the tech company that theoretically did a good job for?

    No one said anything about suing. Congressional committees have subpoena power. And they obviously have oversight power over HHS and how it implements laws passed by Congress.



  • @boomzilla said:

    Hill Republicans
     

    I imagine this isolated, crazy tribe of once-men from the Dark Hills.



  • @dhromed said:

    @boomzilla said:
    Hill Republicans

    I imagine this isolated, crazy tribe of once-men from the Dark Hills.

    That's just what they want you to think.



  • @boomzilla said:

    That's just what they want you to think.
     

    I can see advantages for both parties, Repubescians and Goddamocrats.



  • @dhromed said:

    @boomzilla said:

    That's just what they want you to think.
     

    I can see advantages for both parties, Repubescians and Goddamocrats.

    Jonah Goldberg has for quite some time written about "conservatives in the mist" reporting.



  • @boomzilla said:

    I'm sure someone will file a FOIA request and publicize the result now that the Feds are reopening their doors.

    Hadn't even thought about that, but FOIA requests will be flying left and right, won't they.



  • @boomzilla said:

    Jonah Goldberg has for quite some time written about "conservatives in the mist" reporting.
     

    Sweet.

    The narrator — a British fellow with an accent like Gandalf the White — described the scene

    David Attenborough, most likely. I will continue reading in his voice.




  • More fun! They also pirated the jquery DataTables plugin (original, copy on healthcare.gov)

    (No, it's not saving bandwidth. It only saves about 1KB, only the licencing comments have been removed, normal compression would have saved them about 100KB and Google Closure would've saved them about 300KB)



  • @dtech said:


    More fun! They also pirated the jquery DataTables plugin (original, copy on healthcare.gov)

    (No, it's not saving bandwidth. It only saves about 1KB, only the licencing comments have been removed, normal compression would have saved them about 100KB and Google Closure would've saved them about 300KB)

    Looks the same in both to me.


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