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posted by girlwhowaspluggedout on Friday March 14 2014, @01:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the lowest-bidders-all-the-way-down dept.

skullz writes:

"I've watched the Affordable Care Act's federal and state website roll-outs with trepidation as one botched IT project crashes and burns after another. As more information is coming out about Minnesota's health insurance exchange, lo and behold, poor communication, lack of fundamentals, and bureaucracy seem to be contributing factors.

From NPR's How A Series Of Mistakes Hobbled Minnesota's Health Exchange we learn that the users were the first to actually test the website:

What Minnesotans did not know is they were testing the site. There wasn't time for consumer testing before the site went live. Michael Krigsman, a consultant who specializes in diagnosing and preventing IT project failures, says testing is key. 'That is so screwed up. You can quote me on that,' he says. 'This is one of these things that's so foundational. It's like why do we need to breathe the air?"

Propublica has another article which covers the health insurance exchanges of Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oregon and Maryland - blue states that support the Affordable Care Act.

Having been on projects with shifting scope, compressed timeframes, and arbitrary milestones I feel for the developers who worked on these websites and am a little depressed that we are still doing this in 2014. When will the managers learn? Or at least listen?"

 
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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by SuggestiveLanguage on Friday March 14 2014, @12:49PM

    by SuggestiveLanguage (1313) on Friday March 14 2014, @12:49PM (#16317)

    I have yet in my career to see even on large-scale forklift government IT project achieve its objectives within budge--whether its the revenue, DMV, military, state, federal whatever--they all have a terrible record of running off the rails and exploding into expensive fail rather quickly.

    The core problem is that the business logic is thousands of pages of byzantine rules layered on top of another ten-thousand pages of byzantine rules. That's a project-management nightmare right from the start. Now, an intelligent, experienced and honest vendor might be able to achieve the business case if the bids submitted were honestly construed and realistic but that not often the case. I'll leave the reader to explore why this happens, but I will provide a small clue: The project vendors are often selected based on political or personal connections to legislators (read kickbacks) rather than proven capabilities.

    The liberal *American technocrat's answer to the failed project is to throw more money or bodies at the project if available then ask for more money from the next appropriation. The conservative *American technocrat's answer is to scrap and surplus the entire project--baby, bathwater and all--then outsource (inexplicably on a cost-plus contract) the entire implementation, as if turning over a government mandated diktat entirely to a for-profit entity will not be squeezed for every dime its worth. Streamlining or simplifying the project never seems to enter their minds. It's either "double-down and spend" or "cancel and spend."

    Simplifying the law or streamlining the off-track project to execute a subset of the business logic doesn't even enter the picture. Gee, i wonder why?

    *I'm not terrilby impressed with the intellectual capability of American technocrats as their vitas are heavily embellished cheating and legacy benefits and political skills.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Thexalon on Friday March 14 2014, @03:03PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Friday March 14 2014, @03:03PM (#16416)

    then outsource (inexplicably on a cost-plus contract) the entire implementation, as if turning over a government mandated diktat entirely to a for-profit entity will not be squeezed for every dime its worth

    Whaddaya mean, "inexplicably"? The explanation is clear: The point of the exercise is to transfer as much government money as possible to certain favored businesses. The more that politicians or bureaucrats can do that, the more valuable it is to bribe them, which means they can demand larger bribes.

    That's why I'm thoroughly opposed to the concept of government contracts: They are inevitably and almost invariably corrupt. I'd rather have our government just hire people directly to do the jobs that the government has decided it needs to do. There's no real reason to hire a business - all that does is creates at least one more management team and a batch of middlemen that get paid handsomely while contributing more-or-less nothing of value.

    --
    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.