Tech Contractors Reject Blame For HealthCare.gov Mess - InformationWeek

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Tech Contractors Reject Blame For HealthCare.gov Mess
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Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2013 | 5:30:56 PM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
True. My point was that once you toss the phrase "Enterprise" in to something, it just sounds like it wants to be a disaster. ;-)
ChrisP440
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ChrisP440,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/28/2013 | 3:48:23 PM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
IDM is a standard IT acronym for a system in charge of handling use logon information. Sounds complicated and it is, but it's a core technological function of any website that handles large amount of user with accounts that retain information and the corresponding logon/pw. It wouldn't have failed if it was sized properly.
ChrisP440
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ChrisP440,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/28/2013 | 3:44:43 PM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
The problem was the technical requirements changed drastically late in the game. The EIDM piece that melted down was never sized to correctly handle the amount of load that the design change created. One thing that didn't come out was when this exactly occurred, who was informed, and how long the contractors had to react. QSSI was responsible for this piece. If the change happened with their knowledge at any point before the go live, they should have raised a red flag at the very least about the potential load issue.... instead they simply said more testing was needed which is a CYA consultant statement if there ever was one. I think clearly QSSI dropped the ball here because the team working on the EIDM should have at least had an idea the system wouldn't scale and they should have had some of their own load testing done as part of validating the deployment. They were hired for their experience on the matter which I think was not applied here(probably because they staffed the project with inexperienced IDM people). Obviously congress didn't want to pin blame on the consultants, they wanted to pin it on HHS and the White House. So much so that they gave the ball back to QSSI and even expanded their role now to "fix the entire system"! They are being rewarded for failure by being given additional power and oversight. Seeing such a dubious decision like this and you have to ask yourself who United Health has pulling strings behind the scenes.
ChrisP440
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ChrisP440,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/28/2013 | 3:43:11 PM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
Government in-house(CMS) was responsible for testing which they failed miserably at. The problem was the technical requirements changed drastically late in the game. The EIDM piece that melted down was never sized to correctly handle the amount of load that the design change created. One thing that didn't come out was when this exactly occurred, who was informed, and how long the contractors had to react. QSSI was responsible for this piece. If the change happened with their knowledge at any point before the go live, they should have raised a red flag at the very least about the potential load issue.... instead they simply said more testing was needed which is a CYA consultant statement if there ever was one. I think clearly QSSI dropped the ball here because the team working on the EIDM should have at least had an idea the system wouldn't scale and they should have had some of their own load testing done as part of validating the deployment. They were hired for their experience on the matter which I think was not applied here(probably because they staffed the project with inexperienced IDM people). Obviously congress didn't want to pin blame on the consultants, they wanted to pin it on HHS and the White House. So much so that they gave the ball back to QSSI and even expanded their role now to "fix the entire system"! They are being rewarded for failure by being given additional power and oversight. Seeing such a dubious decision like this and you have to ask yourself who United Health has pulling strings behind the scenes.
BGREENE292
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50%
BGREENE292,
User Rank: Strategist
10/26/2013 | 9:44:50 AM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
The entire project was not government in-house, but OUT-sourced (as so many GOP fans reflexively suggest) in order to use their purported expertise. Apparently, there was little of that to go around.

But even HHS agency oversight means a gargantuan task, and most private firms can hide shoddy work or even sabotage-to-suit. More than six major firms were behind this multi-year effort, and that by itself is sometimes prescription for disaster.

In any case, let the evidence come in for what actually happened, and hope Zients can accomplish what he expects to do.

On the positive side, the healthcare.gov website already has established Obamacare is hugely popular, and early reports suggest a saving of $190 billion over the next decade, and a deficit reduction of almost $300 billion. (See-- http://www.americanprogress.or...
Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
10/25/2013 | 8:38:54 PM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
It looks like the government has taken my suggestion A: Hiring someone else to fix what's broken. The White House has announced it's choice:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10...
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
10/25/2013 | 5:11:24 PM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
"enterprise identity management (EIDM) function"
This sounds like the title of an article you would find at the TheDailyWTF.com. This was destined to fail.
BubbaIT
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50%
BubbaIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/25/2013 | 4:56:58 PM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
"Trust me. I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

Can anyone say this with a straight face? In the days before the heavy computerization we have now, the government - multiple governments, in fact - were able to mount huge operations like the Normandy landings, for instance. Big operations were daunting, but they were done successfully. Why is it that with the complete proliferation of computers and networks now, we have this kind of total failure? Have we just reached a point where our systems are so complex that they're a bigger hindrance to a project's success than a help?

The failure of healthcare.gov is leaving a bad taste in many people's mouths. And deservedly so.
Tom Murphy
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50%
Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
10/25/2013 | 4:32:31 PM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
If I hired a contractor to build a house, I might be ultimately "reponsible," but if the contractor and related subcontractors failed to perform as expected, I would a) fire them and find others to do the work; b) halt payments to the incompetent crew; and c) sue the crap out of them for wasting my time and money.

No amount of finger-pointing is going to get the system back on track. Congress should be more focused on providing a working service. How? A) Consider hiring someone else to fix what's broken; B) Cosider buying/leasing technology from insurance companies that have demonstrated proficiency in this area; C) Sue the crap out of the prime contractor for failure to perform.

Unfortunately for the ACA, the collapse of the online registration system means that portion of the program is shut down for the time being. On the plus side, Americans can continue to register by calling a toll-free number to speak to a live operator -- and that may be easier for most of them anyway.
MyW0r1d
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50%
MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Strategist
10/25/2013 | 2:27:21 PM
re: Tech Contractors Reject Blame For Healthcare.gov Mess
Agreed. Google processes 5 billion searches daily (2012) and I'm certain Bing and others are not really that far behind (likely over the Healthcare.gov daily number). That's not to say the ACA would use the same proprietary algorithms but general website modules/architecture should be a known commodity to a company that creates them for a living.
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