November 8, 2013

Obama admits government — compared to the private sector — is far less capable of accomplishing anything on computers.

In yesterday's interview with Chuck Todd, Obama said:
You know, one of the lessons -- learned from this whole process on the website -- is that probably the biggest gap between the private sector and the federal government is when it comes to I.T. ...

Well, the reason is is that when it comes to my campaign, I'm not constrained by a bunch of federal procurement rules, right? 
That is, many have pointed out that his campaign website was really good, so why didn't that mean that he'd be good at setting up a health insurance website? The answer is that the government is bad because the government is hampered by... government!
And how we write -- specifications and -- and how the -- the whole things gets built out. So part of what I'm gonna be looking at is how do we across the board, across the federal government, leap into the 21st century.
I love the combination of: 1. Barely able to articulate what the hell happens inside these computer systems, and 2. Wanting to leap!
Because when it comes to medical records for veterans, it's still done in paper. Medicaid is still largely done on paper.

When we buy I.T. services generally, it is so bureaucratic and so cumbersome that a whole bunch of it doesn't work or it ends up being way over cost. 
This should have made him sympathetic to the way government burdens private enterprise, but he's focused on liberating government to take over more of what has been done privately. And yet there's no plan, no idea about what would suddenly enable government to displace private businesses competing to offer a product people want to buy.

Instead, we've been told we must buy a product, and things have been set up so we can only go through the government's market (the "exchange"), and the government has already demonstrated that its market doesn't work. But you can't walk away, you're forced to buy, and there's nowhere else to go. And yet, he wants us to feel bad about the cumbersome bureaucracy the government encountered trying to procure the wherewithal to set up the market it had already decided we would all need to use.

It's like a medieval torturer complaining to his victim about how difficult it is to use pilliwinks while the thumbscrews are on backorder.
And yeah, in some ways, I should have anticipated that just because this was important and I was saying this was my top priority. And I was meeting with folks once a month telling 'em, "Make sure this works."
He was meeting with his "folks" once a month. He was tellin' 'em "Make sure this works." Why didn't that work, that tellin' 'em? The tellin'-the-folks method. He is the President. I think it looked like this:



Why didn't that work? Who knew?!
There are gonna be some lessons learned....
Yeah, he had to learn that you can't just say This is important, I care — Obamacare — and so let it be done. Make sure this works.

102 comments:

Strelnikov said...

I don't understand your criticism of his message. Kings have always ruled by decree and command.

Tom Gallagher said...

Gaining insight at this stage means you weren't paying attention in the first place. Send the liar packing.

MadisonMan said...

Wherein we learn what a horrible executive Obama is. Who would've thought that electing a Senator as a President could lead to such disarray.

It surprises me (not really) that anyone would think a Govt program would come in on time (and fully functional). Wishful thinking or idiotic naivete?

PB Reader said...

Policies available on the Obamacare exchanges are just government cheese. Overpriced and substandard.

Of course, Obamacare has effectively outlawed the insurance companies from offering other policies that customers may want to purchase even if they want to pay the tax penalty, though they can easily arrange their tax withholding so they don't have a refund and not allow the IRS to collect it.

EDH said...

Let's see what Obama's Mini-Me, Deval Patrick, has done with the head-start he was given by so-called Romneycare in Massachusetts...

Mass. errors stymie Bay Staters’ sign-ups

The state website residents must use to sign up for Obamacare health plans is riddled with infuriating computer flaws that cut off people with hyphenated names and force others to falsely say they are prison inmates or mental patients before they can finish 
their applications, a Herald 
review found.

The review comes just a week after President Obama came to Massachusetts — the birthplace of Romneycare, the model for the White House’s universal health care plan — to defend massive problems with the national website.

The review of angry posts from scores of frustrated applicants on the Massachusetts Health Connector website and Facebook page found a wide range 

of complaints, from frequent computer crashes, to long waits on the phone, to absurd glitches.

Among those snagged by the computer problems and interviewed by the Herald:

• Adam Romanow of South Boston said he hit a wall on the website Wednesday night, when he answered ‘No’ to a question asking if he’s currently 
incarcerated. “It immediately brought up, ‘We couldn’t electronically verify your incarceration status. Please submit proof of your incarceration,’” Romanow said. “It was crazy ... I’ve never had handcuffs on in my life.”

• Nancy Wilde, who lives in a Boston suburb, clicked “No” to a question on the website — and was then asked if she was locked up in a mental hospital or awaiting arraignment.


(Comment moved for relevance.)

Sorun said...

It's going to get even more difficult because the competent IT people are going to bail for other opportunities. The feds will find asses for those seats, but it won't be A-team people sitting in them.

PB Reader said...

A state senator who did little of note beyond setting record for voting "present". A US Senator who did little of note. A man who runs for president with a campaign managed by others, yet says this is evidence of his management capability. Yes, this portends great things.

traditionalguy said...

Watching Ramses rule over Moses is the metaphor for Obama's upcoming edict, "So let it be written, so let it be done as a final International Settlement in nuclear armed Iran's favor to teach Israel who rules Obama's world.

But what happens if Moses will not lay down that rod he carries?

jacksonjay said...

Who would've thought that a failed (by his own admission) community organizing, fundamentally tranforming, voting present, golfer would know that government is inefficient?

You could have fooled me! Except he didn't fool me!

exhelodrvr1 said...

You voted for him, when there was every reason to expect this level of ineptitude.

But we did get a black president.

PB Reader said...

There's a HUGE difference between running an analytics operation with a marketing campaign management system very similar to other marketers with a relatively small number of users is very different from building a large-scale operational system for millions of users that integrates with a multitude of back-end systems, not to mention integrating it to call-centers with hundreds of customer service reps.

RecChief said...

president Obama: a walking embodiment of the Peter Principle.

I think that the left spent so much time telling us that Bush was stupid that they eventually believed that it was easy. That all one has to do is tell people that it's important, that failure is not an option.

Also interesting to note how easily he goes back to the argument that Federal regulations constrain government. This isn't the first time that regulations, laws, the constitution have been used as the excuse for not getting something done.

Original Mike said...

"A state senator who did little of note beyond setting record for voting "present". A US Senator who did little of note. A man who runs for president with a campaign managed by others, yet says this is evidence of his management capability. Yes, this portends great things."

This wasn't a secret at the time, yet a lot of suckers voted for him.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

First he thought there were shovel ready projects. Now he learns that government IT wasn't shovel ready either?!?

Who else but a fucking college educated idiot would believe this shit? What will he learn next?

RecChief said...

anyone have a comment related to Obama, at a DSCC fundraiser, saying "WE are remaking the courts."?

PB Reader said...

As IowaHawk posted on Twitter:

"I don't want an apology from Obama. I want an apology from every shit-for-brains reporter who blindly bought his fantasies."

mccullough said...

The Education of Barack Obama continues. He'll be a conservative by age 60.

Rusty said...

Name one thing any government does efficiently besides oppression.

I'll wait here.

khesanh0802 said...

Ann;

I feel it is necessary to remind you that when a lot of us were saying Obama was unqualified for dog catcher you went ahead and voted for the guy.

I understand the law is about precedent and looking to the past, but you and many others should have done a little projection. You might easily have anticipated all of this.

Original Mike said...

"So part of what I'm gonna be looking at is how do we across the board, across the federal government, leap into the 21st century."

Please, no more "reform".

Lyssa said...

Madison Man said: Wherein we learn what a horrible executive Obama is. Who would've thought that electing a Senator as a President could lead to such disarray.

Yes. Can we please remember that come 2016? (Both sides, and yes, that includes Senators Cruz, Paul, Rubio, etc. Show your management skills, first.)

BDNYC said...

Isn't it obvious what needs to be done? Whatever is left of Obama's campaign infrastructure should be tasked with running the government.

ONWARD

Henry said...

How Obama thought Government IT worked.

Freder Frederson said...

But you can't walk away, you're forced to buy, and there's nowhere else to go.

This statement is simply a lie. You do not have to buy insurance from the exchange if you do not want to. Only if you want to be considered for subsidies (i.e., your income is between 100 and 400 % of poverty level) are you required to use the exchange.

For someone who is so morally outraged by the president's lies, you are sure playing fast and loose with the facts.

Michael K said...

This is Cargo Cult government. Build something that kind of looks like something that works and expect results.

Larry J said...

I've worked in IT for over 20 years. For the last 11 years, I've helded develop architecture for large DoD systems. There are many reasons why government IT efforts fail so often. I've worked on architectures as small as a space surveillance sensor system and as large as for the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB.

1. They are often a mixture of mission-critical legacy systems (some very old) that can't be easily modified and can't be stopped with newer technology that's incompatable with the old.

2. The old systems are almost all stove-piped and don't play well with others. This is likely one of the issues with Obamacare. It has to interface with many different (and likely incompatable) systems across not over government agencies but also insurance companies.

3. The bureaucratic acquisition process is so convoluted and slow that I heard one general say, "I couldn't get a paperclip through that process in less than 2 years." By the time a system goes operational, it's long obsolete.

4. It's hard for the government to define what they need and what they want. Everyone has to protect their own rice bowl (that's mission #1) and anything that could upset the status quo is seen as a threat. The Obamacare legislation is over 2000 pages long and the implementing regulations are reportedly 8 times longer. Further, they keep changing the requirements (such as Obama giving waivers to unions) for political rather than technical reasons. No good system can come from all that.

John said...

Bullshit on veterans records on paper.

I get healthcare at the VA Hospital. I am very happy with it.

NOTHING, nothing at all is on paper. It is ALL on computer.

In fact, if I want a paper copy of anything, even if it is something the Doc is typing into the computer on my visit, it is a pain in the neck.

I like to get paper copies of my lab work so my MD son can look at them. I have to go to a separate office in a distant part of the building where they can print them out.

So, just add this to the lies Obie is telling us.

I am VERY happy with the treatment I get from VA. I don't know if it is just this hospital or what but none of the horror stories I see in the press seem to apply.

2 Brothers in Law have been hospitalized there. Both had excellent experiences.

So BULLSHIT! Obama on govt not being able to do this. VA can.

At least in the SJ VA hospital.

John Henry

YoungHegelian said...

Wow, what a great morale builder for government IT folks: 'Gosh, I had no idea federal IT was so incompetent..."

Is the motto for the web site team now "The beatings will continue until morale improves"?

And, of course, Obama & his policy people taking fucking forever to come up with functional requirements & asking for changes at the last minute had absolutely nothing to do with the web site debacle. Nothing at all.

RecChief said...

Freder Frederson said...
"You do not have to buy insurance from the exchange if you do not want to. Only if you want to be considered for subsidies"

But you have to buy an Obama approved policy. There is nowhere else to go.

Freeman Hunt said...

Freder, considering that the new plans are hundreds of dollars more than the old plans, and most cannot afford them without the subsidies, presenting foregoing the subsidies as an alternative is disingenuous.

Lyssa said...

John said Bullshit on veterans records on paper. . . .
NOTHING, nothing at all is on paper. It is ALL on computer.


Glad that you mentioned that - come to think of it, I worked in insurance 2002-06, and had to review a lot of medical records from the VA. They were definitely all computerized, unlike those from most other providers. And that was a while ago, in technology time. But we all know that this president pretty much just says whatever fool thing pops into his head, with little regard as to whether its true or not.

Freeman Hunt said...

Obama Encounters Seed of Small Government Wisdom

Big Mike said...

And I was meeting with folks once a month telling 'em, "Make sure this works."

Well you could have fooled me! I was sure he was meeting once a month to say "screw it up all you want and I'll just blame those Republicans."

AllenS said...

John said...
Bullshit on veterans records on paper.

I get healthcare at the VA Hospital. I am very happy with it.

NOTHING, nothing at all is on paper. It is ALL on computer.


I also get my health care from the VA and I agree with everything that John Henry said.

Obama is nothing more than a total liar.

Big Mike said...

@Freder, whatever you're being paid to write that BS, it isn't enough. Go tell 'em you want a raise.

averagejoe said...

I wouldn't say that he was barely able to articulate what happens inside a computer. I would say that he was completely unable to articulate what happens inside a computer. In fact, I'm certain that he has no idea how a computer works. I would wager that he has no idea what IT stands for. But I'm also certain that Obama thinks he can do a better job than the "best and brightest" glitch-fixers in the kingdom. Meanwhile, he slams his fist on the laptop repeatedly and yells at it, "Work! @#$&! Computer! I said work!"

Larry J said...

Here's a sample of the military acquisition process for joint systems. It isn't much better for non-DoD IT acquisition. You want to know why government acquisition costs so much? Study the chart and you'll see.

Bob R said...

Government has many advantages over the private sector. For instances, (as Taranto has pointed out) when you commit fraud in the private sector it's against the law. When you commit fraud in the public sector it IS the law.

John said...

Its a glitch, I tells ya!

http://youtu.be/2F8XgJE4hA4

Marshal said...

And I was meeting with folks once a month telling 'em, "Make sure this works.

Keep talking. Every word is further proof of your complete incompetence. This implementation could set back leftist dreams by 50years, and the effects of the plan another 100.

cubanbob said...

"The state website residents must use to sign up for Obamacare health plans is riddled with infuriating computer flaws that cut off people with hyphenated names and force others to falsely say they are prison inmates or mental patients before they can finish 
their applications, a Herald 
review found.

The review comes just a week after President Obama came to Massachusetts — the birthplace of Romneycare, the model for the White House’s universal health care plan — to defend massive problems with the national website.

The review of angry posts from scores of frustrated applicants on the Massachusetts Health Connector website and Facebook page found a wide range 

of complaints, from frequent computer crashes, to long waits on the phone, to absurd glitches."


EDH just when I thought I have seen everything comes this....they managed to fuckup Romneycare! Now how awesome is that?

Freder, seriously? Can't you at least try to make an effort to spin the bullshit into something somewhat believable?

David said...

He just learned that government can't do this kind of thing?

More lying bullshit.

With considerable fanfare, at the beginning of his first term he appointed a technology Czar to take on this same issue. That person failed, as did his successors. The job itself just withered away.

So he pretended to tackle this once before and utterly failed.

Would the interviewer point this out?

Of course not, either through ignorance or fear. Must not disturb the wizard, especially when he is pretending so intensely.

Jay Vogt said...

laugh at Obamagirl all you want, but at least she got her website up an running.

surfed said...

His campaign wasn't hindered by government procurement rules but our ability as citizens to purchase the insurance we need is?

Bob Boyd said...

Obama should have known there was an implementation problem when he asked them to demonstrate the user interface and they handed him a pair of rubber gloves.

Original Mike said...

"For someone who is so morally outraged by the president's lies, you are sure playing fast and loose with the facts. (Emphasis added.)

Smilin' Jack said...

So much gloom and doom--you people need to learn to look on the bright side. Obamafuckup is going to be a huge incentive for a lot of people to make sure they stay healthy. So short McDonald's and buy Planet Fitness. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Henry said...

Freder wrote: This statement is simply a lie. You do not have to buy insurance from the exchange if you do not want to. Only if you want to be considered for subsidies (i.e., your income is between 100 and 400 % of poverty level) are you required to use the exchange.

So Obamacare will only screw poor people. Thanks for pointing that out.

Now it's your turn to say "I always supported single payer anyway."

West Town said...

Just another "clever" way to distance failure in implementation from the policy.

gerry said...

"Government" is now incompetent - and this is hysterical.

MayBee said...

Althouse "This should have made him sympathetic to the way government burdens private enterprise, "

Yes! Yes! Yes!

pm317 said...

BS all over again. Also forcing people into high cost insurance and forcing them to depend on govt subsidies to get them is a fraud as in funneling money into indurance companies from you and the govt. Why are not people seeing that? It isa heist, swindling the middle class.

Levi Starks said...

"constrained by a bunch of federal procurement rules"

Rules that forced them to accept a no-bid contract from a company which was a know underachiever.

A small government Republican might see the answer as less rules, Obama will see the solution as even more rules.

cubanbob said...

"That is, many have pointed out that his campaign website was really good, so why didn't that mean that he'd be good at setting up a health insurance website? The answer is that the government is bad because the government is hampered by... government!"

Yet the Democrats want to double down on stupid. Yes lets hire alcoholics to administer the liquor warehouses.

Bush and Palin were considered a morons by the left and here's Barry a certified imbecile. I suppose we should be grateful since if something were to happen to Choom Plugs Biden a certified idiot would become president. Look on the bright side, I doubt its possible to sink even further.

Rusty said...

Freder lurvs hisself some oppression.

RecChief said...

Cubanbob said...
"Yet the Democrats want to double down on stupid. Yes lets hire alcoholics to administer the liquor warehouses."

The real goal, as I see it, of the left is to finally jettison the notion of separated powers, that quaint old sheepskin written oh so long ago. You see it in thomas Friedman's writing where he fantasizes how easy things would be if we were china, you hear it in Obama's lamentations about being constrained, and so on.

MayBee said...

Levi-

Obama will see the answer as waiving rules for his own administration. Private companies will need more regulation to meet government standards.

Bob Loblaw said...

And I was meeting with folks once a month telling 'em, "Make sure this works.

Yes, and when my kids say they've completed a chore that I've asked them to do, of course I don't need to check to see if it's done. Just take their word for it!

Bob Loblaw said...

I read somewhere that, and I paraphrase, some people involved in the project were hoping the software would fail when Barry bin Biden was getting a demo of healthcare.gov prior to release.

You actually think the project people were going to put the real web site in front of the president?

Anyone in software pretty much does canned demos on a sandboxed version of the software. I've even seen some demos that were just a video while the presenter pretended to be moving a mouse around and clicking.

Bob Loblaw said...

If Barry had any experience in the private sector, or 'enemy territory' as he likes to call it, he would've learned the very simple but powerful rule of 'Trust, but verify'.

teej said...

Professor A,

You really need a "Rube, self-identifying" tag for these more and more frequent snarky criticisms of our disastrous President.

But at least voting for him made YOU feel good!

Ben Calvin said...

So Obama is the antithesis of King Cnut.

Henry of Huntingdon, the 12th-century chronicler, tells how Cnut set his throne by the sea shore and commanded the tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes. Yet "continuing to rise as usual [the tide] dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then the king leapt backwards, saying: 'Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.' He then hung his gold crown on a crucifix, and never wore it again "to the honour of God the almighty King".[95] This incident is usually misrepresented by popular commentators and politicians as an example of Cnut's arrogance.[96]

Smilin' Jack said...

Obama admits government — compared to the private sector — is far less capable of accomplishing anything on computers.

As long as the IRS computers work, what else matters?

Lydia said...

Mr. President, if you liked your apology you can keep it.--Dennis Miller

Henry said...

How government technology actually works.

The Drill SGT said...

The three military maxims that The Won failed to understand in this case are:

1. "Organizations do well, what the Commander checks. "

If It was the defining element of his legacy, it should have been checked.

2. "Make sure a single commander is responsible for success and empower him to succeed."

In this case, the IT function was under one person, but the Policy wonks were in a different group and kept mucking with requirements. And the policy wonks had both the ear of God and were not responsible for making the code work. It was destined to fail when the decided that CMS could function as the System Integrator. Pushing back a bit on Larry J, there are a couple of organizations in the Federal Gov that can make stuff work, sometimes, and they are all in DoD, but they have names that include words like "Systems", "electronic" Software" or "Information" in their names...

The core competency of CMS is writing checks...

3. Lastly,

"There is a "Bright Idea Cut-off Date" if you want a prayer of getting the system tested and deployed by a date certain."

gregq said...

Government procurement rules are designed to prevent graft and corruption. As a Chicago politician, President Obama is of course a big fan of graft, corruption, kickbacks, and all the rest.

So of COURSE he hates the procurement rules.

The Obama Campaign website worked because that was important to Barack Obama. You can be damn sure he wasn't only "checking on it" once a month in the leadup to the campaign season.

Making "health care reform" actually work for people? Clearly not important to Barack Obama.

eric said...

Clearly the problem here isn't the website. Eventually that will be up and running. Nor is the problem here that many people are paying more for less. That's charity.

The problem here is that Obama hasn't gotten out enough to tell everyone about how wonderful the law is. A few more speeches, and everything will be just fine.

Illuninati said...

In my opinion, the problem isn't the government per se but the fact that this whole thing was brought into existence by one party knowing that many people in the country weren't on board. The only way to make this work well is a bipartisan plan with genuine consensus. Is that still possible? After the Democrats have spend years deliberately dividing the country pitting women against men, black and brown against white, poor against rich (aka upper middle class folks) this country is so divided I'm not sure it is possible for us to work together any more. To this very day, Democrats continue to call conservative Republicans racists, bigots, homophobes, tea baggers, and stupid Christians. After years of this level of hate speech, I'm not sure this country still has the capacity to come together to fix this mess.

Unknown said...

Why is this a surprise? Back in 2010, IBM offered free software to fix the Medicare fraud problem and the Dope in Chief turned it down.

Google "IBM Medicare Fraud" and you will see that this stooge doesn't really care. To all of the d bags that voted for him, a pox on your houses

Unknown said...

Freder: This statement is simply a lie. You do not have to buy insurance from the exchange if you do not want to. Only if you want to be considered for subsidies (i.e., your income is between 100 and 400 % of poverty level) are you required to use the exchange.

In Vermont, if you are an individual or an employer with less than 50 employees, you most certainly have to buy your insurance on the exchange. The dumb ass liberals that run the state made it so. They are also proposing that doctors opt out of the system and see patients on a cash basis.

Unknown said...

My bad. It should read "They are also proposing that doctors CAN'T opt out of the system and see patients on a cash basis.

Joe said...

Small reality check:

I've been programming computers for 33 years, professionally for almost 27.

Designing software, including writing project specifications, creating development and testing plans, etc., is extremely difficult and fails more often than not in the private sector. Software engineering management has become quite adept at spewing the most unbelievable bullshit about software development and in believing their own bullshit.

Even worse are the people managing the software managers. They tend to be clueless MBA assholes who don't know shit, but think they are the smartest people in the room.

And this is the private sector.

The most amazing part is how many failures were led by most of the contractors who worked on this have. Collectively, they've failed to deliver billions of dollars worth of projects, including a dismal failure in England on their health care system.


elkh1 said...

In the private sector, nobody forces unwilling customers to buy crappy products.

In the public sector, Big Govt. forces craps on unwilling citizens.

In the private sector, companies that make craps die.

In the public sector, the more craps Big Govt. produces, the more Big Govt. thrives.

In the private sector, customers who refuse to buy craps walk away with their own money.

In the public sector, no matter what happens, Big Govt. walks away with the citizens' money.

Jupiter said...

Obama's campaign website did not need to do anything except dispense lies and record donors' credit card information. And it failed to do the latter, at least when the donors were foreign nationals who could not legally contribute to US political campaigns.

Earnest Prole said...

“Make it so.”

Sunslut7 said...

Ann,

Don't be too surprised if each 'PUNCH LIST' item solution creates or discovers two or more 'bugs' that need to be fixed.

Like the gremlins let loose in the Ministry of Magic (HPDH Pt 1)computer software fixes tend to discover more 'issues' as tghe 'fix' process progresses.

given the pleges of a five week period of testing, given todays date, it is unlikely that the December 1, 2013 fix deadline for the website will be met on schedule.

of course the term 'fix' is subject to interpretation. My guess is they (the wonks) will be told to ignore the back-end DB and network ops software and intstead they will be directed to solve the front-end software issues which involve the web site.

this will most liekly cause ecven more errors as millions of customers submit their info to a system that can not process it.

The current failures in the system are a blessing for Obama because the problems of th eprocessing of the submitted info are not apparent to lay people. Unfortunately, Obama still seems clueless about this issue. So his surprise will be enormous when a tidal wave of submitted customer info crashes into the back-end of the system and can not be processed.

be sure to have a 32 oz Sulurppy and a big bowl of popcorn and lotsa of butter and salt. Showtime!

AJ Lynch said...

Ode to Obama:

Dumb fuck
Dumb fuck
Tail on his hat
Nobody knows where the dumbfuck is at

Dumb fuck
Dumb fuck
Head on his butt
Nobody knows where the dumbfuck is at


[borrowed from the jingle for TV show jingle Swamp Fox]

Joe said...

One other thing: three weeks isn't even long enough to design a test plan for a project this size, let alone actually do it.

damikesc said...

Obama is an "idea man". He doesn't like the nitty gritty stuff.

If he was a CEO, his meetings would consist of "get higher profits" and little else.

Yes. Can we please remember that come 2016? (Both sides, and yes, that includes Senators Cruz, Paul, Rubio, etc. Show your management skills, first.)

Sadly, yes. I might even vote for Christie, much as he irks the crap out of me, since he has shown some actual executive capacity.

This statement is simply a lie. You do not have to buy insurance from the exchange if you do not want to. Only if you want to be considered for subsidies (i.e., your income is between 100 and 400 % of poverty level) are you required to use the exchange.

And those people whose policies were cancelled and the insurers aren't going to issue more in that state?

What about them?

Why does their pain not move you at all?

Larry J said...

In this case, the IT function was under one person, but the Policy wonks were in a different group and kept mucking with requirements. And the policy wonks had both the ear of God and were not responsible for making the code work. It was destined to fail when the decided that CMS could function as the System Integrator. Pushing back a bit on Larry J, there are a couple of organizations in the Federal Gov that can make stuff work, sometimes, and they are all in DoD, but they have names that include words like "Systems", "electronic" Software" or "Information" in their names...

I have to disagree based on many years of experience, both on the receiving end of military IT systems and also helping the military determine the requirements for major systems. Many of these systems were major disasters. Some were years late, as much as 1,000% over budget and still sucked eggs. Take a look at many major procurement problems like the F-35 and SBIRS and you'll see they were software development issues driving the problems.

Larry J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-24/senators-to-probe-air-force-s-1-billion-failed-software.html

Allen Edwards said...

When contemplating General Eisenhower winning the Presidential election, Truman said, “He’ll sit here, and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ And nothing will happen. Poor Ike—it won’t be a bit like the Army. He’ll find it very frustrating.”

Allen Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddy O said...

Good intentions should be enough in this world! Hope and whatnot!

geokstr said...

"When we buy I.T. services generally, it is so bureaucratic and so cumbersome that a whole bunch of it doesn't work or it ends up being way over cost."

"which is why we felt forced to issu no-bid contracts to our campaign bundlers and Michelle's college buddies, even if they had a record of massive failures on similar projects".

Finished that for him.

As an aside, remember how Palin's intelligence was questioned because she dropped her "g"s? Obama does it just as often, and he uses "gonna" a lot. Rube.

Zach said...

And yeah, in some ways, I should have anticipated that just because this was important and I was saying this was my top priority. And I was meeting with folks once a month telling 'em, "Make sure this works."

What a pathetic story. First, because he thought meeting with people once a month and asking them to give 110% would do anything. Second, because he's telling these people that their project is his #1 priority, and none of them had the decency to tell him the project was locked in a death spiral.

How screwed up is your organization if your #1 priority project is slipping and you never even find out about it? That means Obama never asked for (or at least, never got) a formal status report -- and neither did any assistant who could be trusted to bring it to his attention!

Mean Dean said...

IMHO, this is what happens when you try to automate the complexity created by 2000+ pages of hastily written legislation, resulting in 10,350+ pages of policies, all wrapped-up in poor product management decisions made by bureaucrats who required accessing dozens of web services to enforce a 'no window shopping, until you've completed our Byzantine registration process' workflow.

But what the heck do I know, I've only been successfully building large enterprise systems most my life?

Saint Croix said...

"Let it be written. Let it be done."

LOL Althouse.

Yul Brynner is the face of the Obama administration.

Here he is in Westworld. If you haven't seen it, B movie version of 2001. Yul is the android cowboy at the Obama amusement park. And he goes on a murderous malfunctioning rampage. The website is broken, the website is broken!

I'm not sure who Richard Benjamin is. Edward Snowden, maybe.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DavidMB said...

They gave him a demo of the software, eh?

Bill Gates dies and is at the pearly gates talking with Saint Peter. Saint Peter says, "Bill, you've done some wonderful things in your life and have earned the right to choose where you'll spend the rest of eternity. You can choose between Heaven or Hell, but choose wisely."

Bill looks over Saint Peter's shoulder between the pearly gates and sees nothing but a lush green meadow. Deciding to heed Saint Peter's words, Bill asks if he could take a look at Hell. Saint Peter agrees and sends Bill to Hell.

The Devil greets Bill at the gates of Hell and he is immediately taken aback. Much to his surprise, there's one heck of a party going on. People are dancing, the alcohol is flowing, music is non-stop and everyone is having a blast. Bill returns to Heaven to again discuss his decision with Saint Peter. He again looks over Saint Peter's shoulder and sees only a lush green meadow.

Bill says to Saint Peter, "I've put a lot of thought into this decision and it may sound foolish, but I'd like to spend the rest of eternity in Hell."

Saint Peter fulfills Bill's request and returns him to Hell. When Bill gets back to Hell there's been a big change. People are writhing in agony, flames are burning, moans of pain and despair are everywhere.

Bill, being quite shocked at the sight asks the Devil, "What happened?? I was just down here a little while ago and everyone was having a great time!"

The Devil says, "Oh that... That was just the demo!".

Jonathan Silber said...

...this was important and I was saying this was my top priority. And I was meeting with folks once a month telling 'em, "Make sure this works.

Yours truly,

The Smartest Guy In The Room

TOTWTYTR said...

Having dealt with a Medicare appeal on my mother's behalf, I can tell you that they hate paper, but still force you to print out forms, fill them out, and mail them in.

What they do with them after that is a mystery made even worse by the fact that there are four different private contractors that handle appeals.

The first level is divided into the north and south halves of the country. The second level is divided east and west.

The system is designed to make an appeal almost impossible. No doubt Obamacare is even worse.

The problem isn't with IT, it's with the thought that the government can do this efficiently. Or that government contractors can do it efficiently.

ae44bf5a-2cce-11e2-94ad-000bcdcb8a73 said...

I get worried when I hear people who allow Mao ornaments on their Christmas tree start talking about leaps. Will it be modest or great? Indubitably great. Given his campaign slogan, what direction do you think it will be?
So Obamao is proposing another Great Leap Forward!

Roger Zimmerman said...

I run R&D for a company that has a pretty complicated site, with lots of integrations with third parties all of which support modern RESTful APIs (none of which are government agencies, thank goodness). We also have high-CPU "worker"" components in our system that run asynchronously, such that jobs get farmed out to these workers in a queue, and the system must then figure out how to re-synchronize when the worker completes the job. In these respects, from my understanding, we have similar problems that they faced in implementing the ACA website.

The only way such complexity can be implemented is to both specify and test continuously and incrementally, going integration by integration, with a full regression test - one that keeps adding on the new functionalities - at each step. If you specify up front and wait until the end to do integration tests, every (inevitable) failure will be hidden in a cascade of interactions which will be practically impossible to debug. Good fundamental architecture (that isolates the components) can also help, but it is no substitute for incremental specification and testing. Some people call this "agile" methodology. and it usually comes with a host of other trendy features like "sprints" and daily "stand up" meetings, but those, in my opinion, are extraneous details. They key is to constantly revamp design in response to testing experience.

I understand that the overall scale for ACA is much larger than our system, and that many of the integrations are with legacy systems that are slow and do not have modern APIs, but that only bolsters my point. From what I am reading, it seems that CMS has not adopted these modern software development principles. They still spec everything up front, then develop to the spec, then test. It is impossible to anticipate the interaction problems with this methodology, and my guess is that is most of what they're dealing with. It doesn't help, of course, that much of the specification was apparently delayed due to political considerations. But, even if the specs had been ready on day 1, government's essentially waterfall approach to such large projects will fail the vast majority of the time.

I am 100% confident that the President and HHS secretary have 0% understanding of any of the above concepts, and would have 0 patience with anyone at CMS who was trying to explain that to them. I am 90% confident that this website will not be functioning even for the 50%+ use case by the end of the year.

If this leads to the legislative retraction of all of the ACA, I will be glad. If it leads to piecemeal replacement on the way to full single-payer, I will not be surprised, given the character of our current political class.

Unknown said...

Zach said, "...and none of them had the decency to tell him the project was locked in a death spiral."

Actually, nobody wanted to be the killed messenger.

xabigailmcwx said...

Veterans Medical Records are not done on paper. (I work at the VA.) They are electronic and have been for quite some time.

Unknown said...

"And yeah, in some ways, I should have anticipated that just because this was important and I was saying this was my top priority. And I was meeting with folks once a month telling 'em, 'Make sure this works.'"

Here's what a real CEO says once a month to the manager of his most critical project, "please present your monthly progress report".

And any implementation problems get a serious and detailed discussion which results in a list of action items, each with a responsible person named and a due date.

jr565 said...

"And how we write -- specifications and -- and how the -- the whole things gets built out. So part of what I'm gonna be looking at is how do we across the board, across the federal government, leap into the 21st century."

He admits that govt is in the previous century but he and the progressives want to put all power into the hands of this govt that is one century behind.
So too, the progressives agenda. For all the talk of how progressive they are, modern day progressives are not only throwbacks to socialism their ideas are warmed over New Deal policies.
Get with the program.
And here's another idea. Maybe the reason govt hasn't jumped to the 21st century is because it can't. And that has, in fact been the criticism of govt by conservatives. It's inefficient. Thanks Obama for stating the obvious.

Joe said...

While some of what you say is true, Roger, there are renowned failures of Agile precisely because NOTHING was defined up front. The notion of that you can just make things up as you go is one of the most idiotic conceits of agile. (Plus the accusations of "it's waterfall" is tedious. Software development like ANY product development is iterative in nature, but you still need blueprints, else you waste a whole lot of time.)

Ron said...

Reminds me of a joke I saw:
An engineer tells his lead "This project is crap!"
The lead thinks, "I can't call this crap", so he tells his manager "This project his horse manure".
The manager thinks, "I can't call this horse manure" so he tells the program manager "This project is fertilizer".
The program manager thinks, "I can't call this fertilizer" so he tells the President "This project promotes growth".