Friday, October 25, 2013

healthcare.gov and its fixers

The ambitious title of the op-ed piece is, "Why the Government Never Gets Tech Right".

I resisted reading it for the longest time — by which I mean a couple of days, an eternity in the news and in information technology. I grudgingly decided to check it out to get the scoop on what has been a terribly confusing, complicated story about what everyone seems to agree is a terribly confusing, complicated endeavor in the guise of a Web site.

I should have my head examined.

No op-ed piece could explain the failures that I have the strong impression even the responsible parties — the contractors who built, and Administration officials in charge of, the site — do not yet understand. What the heck was I thinking?

Even so, I hoped the piece would shed some light. Ah, me. You'd think I would have outgrown such touching naivete.

Clay Johnson and Harper Reed blame

... the Federal Acquisition Regulation, which is more than 1,800 pages of legalese that all but ensure that the companies that win government contracts, like the ones put out to build HealthCare.gov, are those that can navigate the regulations best, but not necessarily do the best job.
Yeah, right. healthcare.gov would be working just fine if only the contracts had been better handled.

Give me a freaking break.

Johnson's and Reed's take would be offensively simpleminded even if we knew why healthcare.gov is so slow and unreliable. But what none of the myriad so-called experts flapping their gums will tell you is that we still don't know why healthcare.gov doesn't work as it should.

Does it arise from difficulty knitting together the information management systems of private insurers with the healthcare.gov front end? Is it trouble with the other government databases and information management systems that healthcare.gov requires? Were parts of healthcare.gov not competently coded? Are there insufficient resources (e.g., processing power, memory, network bandwidth) available?

If you don't understand the problem, don't pretend you can solve it.

If somebody says he knows how to fix healthcare.gov and he's not involved in actually working on it, tell him you'll listen as soon as he extracts his head from his ass.

Johnson and Reed have an axe to grind. The only thing excusing their axe-grinding masquerading as expert advice is, they're hardly alone. Everybody and his uncle — including the most ass-ignorant of Republican lawmakers — is spewing bovine excrement based on absolutely squat in terms of understanding.

Why don't all you putative expert problem-solvers go and get yourselves real jobs instead of spouting off in ignorance? Shut the frack up instead of adding to the confusion.

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