A Few Thoughts on Fixing

Insights on righting the ship.

Estimated reading: 2 min

President Obama is mad as hell about the debacle and he ought to be.

I’ve worked on enough healthcare IT projects to know that, behind the scenes, plenty of blame is being passed around. Blame can be sorted out later. As for now, the imperative question becomes, How does this get fixed?

Well, the answer isn’t pretty. At this point, Obama et. al have to throw as many financial and human resources at the site as possible. They’re clearly in damage control mode and it’s a race against the clock. The stakes are obviously very high. The administration won’t get ten bites at this apple.

The administration won’t get ten bites at this apple.

A proper post-mortem isn’t an option right now but rest assured: it’s coming, and heads are going to roll. After the dust settles, expect the people responsible to do the following:

  • Minimize the number of vendors involved on the project–and future projects of this scope.
  • Stop trying to get a little bit pregnant with open source. Make all of the code open source so other people can spot flaws and recommend improvements. Plenty of people want to help. Think crowdsourcing.
  • Quickly remove employees and firms not getting the job done.
  • Do much more testing before relaunching it. Enlisting volunteers and third-party services like Amazon Mechanical Turk to pound the system and assess its strength.
  • Establish a clear chain of command.

I find it interesting disturbing that arguably the chief system integrator CGI Federal only now is putting its A-team on the project. One has to wonder why those folks weren’t originally assigned to such a high-profile project.




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