This should come as no surprise to anyone with experience of government projects – which is probably anyone with a brain over the age of 20.
Horror stories from those responsible for programming the Obamacare website have come to light in recent days.
The administration’s healthcare showcase apparently caused extreme stress and gross fatigue for the many sub-contractors involved in the Rube Goldberg project. As is common in poorly specified software projects, when there is a lot of external interference, there was a flurry of nerve-wracking last-minute changes requested.
Kathleen Sebelius even had the gall to blame the lack of testing on Republicans.
She said “In an ideal world there would have been a lot more testing. We did not have the luxury of that with a law that said it’s go time on October 1st and frankly a political atmosphere where the majority party at least in the House was determined to stop this any way they possibly could including shutting down the United States government. So it was not an ideal atmosphere.”
Let me get this straight … Republicans wanted a delay, president Obama and the Democrats wanted to carry on regardless, and refused to negotiate. The government shut down for 17 days, starting on October 1, and the reason for not testing the software – which was due for release on October 1st – was the fault of republicans!
Note to Secretary Sebelius: Testing of real software projects is not left until the week before a release, unless you are working on a shoestring, or deliberately trying to destroy the project.
The Associated Press has found that a review of the technical specifications of the massive project were a “mind-numbingly complex system put together by harried programmers who pushed out a final product that congressional investigators said was tested by the government and not private developers with more expertise.”
Many of the project developers spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity fearing they would be fired. More than a few of the senior management of the website development had serious doubts the project could ever be finished in the allotted time.
Website builders saw red flags for months and no one from HHS or the White House raised a finger of concern.
AP revealed that the internal architectural diagrams showed the system’s complexity. It was obvious to those responsible for the project’s completion that the plan and the timing were “unrealistic.”
The system is supposed to connect to other federal computer networks, including ones at the Social Security Administration, IRS, Veterans Administration, Office of Personnel Management and the Peace Corps.
That has not happened.
More interesting information has come to light from the The Washington Post that says the Obama administration were well aware Healthcare.gov would collapse under the pressure of high traffic, but the administration pressed ahead with the Oct. 1 roll out.
Those working on the project were bracing for its collapse while HHS officials put a happy face on the website knowing full well it would never work. “We named it the tyranny of the Oct. 1 date,” one of the programmers told the newspaper.
The government was warned by a testing group made up of insurers that the system was riddled with problems, including the way the exchange handled enrollment, federal subsidies, and the security of consumers’ personal information, according to The Post.
Key testing did not begin until September 26, four days before the roll-out was to begin.
Taxpayers will be interested to know the government spent at least $394 million in contracts to build the federal health care exchange and the data hub. Contracts were awarded to such companies as Virginia-based CGI Federal Inc., Maryland-based Quality Software Services Inc. and Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
Obviously the computer problems (“glitches”) have been a major embarrassment for the Obama administration. Many question whether the administration is capable of implementing the complex policy. Most of all, why was the president unaware of the scope of the problems when the exchange sites opened?
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will conduct an oversight hearing today (Thursday), probably in the absence of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
On Monday, the White House advised people frustrated by the online tangle that they can enroll by calling 1-800-318-2596 in a process that should take 25 minutes for an individual or 45 minutes for a family. Assistance is also available in communities from helpers who can be found at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
It’s almost a sure bet those lines will be clogged beyond capacity also.