Web Experience: What the HealthCare.gov Fiasco Teaches Us

To start this off, I am biased. I am for affordable healthcare, I am for the affordable heathcare act, I own and run my own small business. I understand technology. I have worked on small governtment IT projects through the GSA. Therefore, I am an interested party with some experience. I do not have a political agenda or a party affiliation. I vote- but I do not contribute to political campaigns.

Now that you know what my bias is, let’s just say I am really upset.

“For the first time in history, a president has had to stand in the Rose Garden to apologize for a broken Web site,” Clay Johnson writes for the New York Times. That is extraordinary. Think back even 10 years. Would any government website have got that sort of attention then?

So, the Web has become truly critical to society. And this is really positive. Because the Web is the interface between humans and technology. When there is a focus on the Web there is a focus on how things work, how easy it is to do things.

The web exposes giant technological investments that are hidden behind the scenes. And as anybody who works in the technology world knows, a huge number of these systems are massively expensive and grossly inefficient.

What went wrong?

Integration – Inept chain of command

CMS serves the important role of systems integrator or “quarterback” on this project and is the ultimate responsible party for the end-to-end performance of the overall Federal Exchange. Basically, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were not the right choice to integrate all of the different vendors. They may know how to acquire lots of products and services- but they don’t know how to build a high-traffic transactional website.

Integration- Acquisition Process

CMS had to play by the governments own way for acquiring products and services. They may know how to acquire lots of products and services- but they don’t know how to build a high-traffic transactional website.

Testing.

Not enough tests were performed on the HealthCare.gov website by the government and its contractors before the site was launched Oct. 1, a Department of Health and Human Services official said Thursday.

“The system just wasn’t tested enough,” said Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is in charge of the site. “We all know we were working under a compressed time frame to launch this on Oct. 1.”

Timing

They did not make the project fit into a realistic time frame. They had three years to work on this and they came out with a camel (e.g. a horse designed by a comittee). It reminds me of a paper written the night before a deadline- okay to learn from for sophomores in highschool. Unacceptible anywhere else.

Architecture- USE THE CLOUD

This was built trailblazing new paths backwards. Use of the cloud- setting up applications, testing them, virutalizing servers and adding capacity would have been the way to go. Trying to reinvent the wheel and building everything from scratch is prone to difficulties as we have found out.

Cheryl Campbell

 

optum

 

In the course of the past twenty years,if  things went horribly wrong, we got called out to our client to account for our actions. In some cases, we actually made the clients whole by compensating them. It was the right thing go do. I expect no less of our elected officials, bureaucrats and government contractors. It’s called leadership.

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About Vic Levinson
Telecommunications and IT professional with over 20 years experience in Business Telecommunications. Specializing in voice over IP (VoIP) for business: hosted VoIP, business VoIP phone systems, SIP providers, carriers, T1's - the works. Founded Prime Telecommunications in 1993 and providing business communications solutions. Cloud Applications- everything from hosted network security, hosted Disaster Recovery, hosted printer management, data centers and colocation solutions for businesses.

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