I’ve politely explained (again and again and again and…) to family and friends the far-too-common experience of 3rd-party contractors (lowest bid, remember) cramming their wonderful OEM packages into Congressionally mandated code 2 (authored by Feds) and the thoroughly predictable and disappointing results. 3 I always empahsize the fact that on a project the size and scope of the Affordable Care Act the people responsible for the devolping, deploying and maintaining the web site are subject to Congressional oversight on a weekly basis.
That is someone, either an Agency CIO (or their representative), presents a weekly summary report to a congressional sub-committee of milestones reached, problems encountered, scheduling woes, personnel changes, resource reallocations, funding challanges, any and everything to do with the project. In turn that congressional sub-committee reports back to Congress as a whole.
None of the problems experienced by the Health Care site should have been a surprise to anyone involved. 4
In fact the people responible undoubtedly had several opportunities to totally revamp their project, maybe think outside the box, do something unique yet tried and tested. Something like use WordPress.
Of the 14 states running their own health insurance marketplaces, five — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Colorado and Hawaii — decided to use WordPress to power their sites. Other markets, such as Illinois, which selected a federal partnership option, also tapped WordPress. [While] these sites are far from perfect, they’ve performed much better than HealthCare.gov.
“WordPress is free, open source and flexible enough to power the majority of the state health care exchanges and upwards of 20% of the top 10 million websites on the planet. With the exception of some small glitches (normal for software), the state health care exchanges function properly.”
Well said. 5
- It’s telling our culture is far more interested in the vagaries of electrons coralled and tamed into the OCD object known as the innernetz, rather than actual felons rounded up then escorted to their (putative) last rodeo. ‘course, it doesn’t help when rural Florida jails randomly let their charges wander around in public… ↩
- This is what passes for “integration” at many agencies. ↩
- If you are interested I documented some of that ‘process’ in a conversation here. ↩
- Granted, the further the information travels away from the developers’ lips (“Well, the main code is fine, but integrating our database with Big McWIdget’s code is causing the SSO module to barf rainbow farts; we can probably fix it -if we get cooperation from Big McWIdget – in a couple of months, but that’s going to mean stealing resources away from the Q&A team for the interval. And, of course, that will set eevrything back by however long it takes to remediate.”) the more the Theory of Chinese Whispers takes hold (“We had a minor glitch with SSO this week; I anticipate it will be solved by EoB next Friday.”): informations traveling up a managemnet chain becomes less and less accurate until it reaches the point of wishful thinking. ↩
- Same goes for Wiki; there ares scores of agencies using Wiki for their internal sites. ↩