10/26/2013

Ocean's ElevenEven Gail Collins thinks Kathleen Sebelius should be fired. The ACA web site has become the Heaven's Gate of systems integration, and even that comparison falters when you realize that moviegoers actually got into the theaters.

Which is more than you can say for the site. I'd include a link to HealthCare.gov, but I don't want to be responsible for another crash (cue rim shot).

Seriously, what we have here is more than a failure to communicate, though that didn't prevent a round of "our stuff worked" proclamations during the first of what is sure to be an endless series of Congressional hearings. If Obama does take out Sebelius, he should also do a little housecleaning at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where the lack of expertise to manage such a project did not hinder the stonewalling that followed.

Apparently, the bodies will twist in the wind a bit longer while the President, action-minded manager that he is, watches how Jeffrey Zients, his newly appointed czar (as announced on PBS last night by IT expert Mark Shields) comes out of the gate. Zients has been described as Obama's "weed-wacker," though in this case, it's more like whack-a-mole.

Wait, wouldn't that be Edward Snowden? After all, he did offer to fix the software in return for immunity. Imagine the bells and whistles he'd install.

Zients has announced that a "general contractor," Quality Software Services, Inc., will now "manage the overall effort." QSSI, a division of UnitedHealth Group, will presumably be free of any parental influence (cue loud guffaw).

The scuttle in Silicon Valley portrays yet another instance of old-school project management. It's not Schadenfreude to point out that libraries of legacy code are best put behind web services gateways. In plain English, when you expect the number of visitors any high school student could have predicted, you build a Web site that can accommodate spikes in traffic.

And this is no ordinary Web site, as Beltway damage control would have it. It's a complex systems integration project that would have challenged the best minds using the best practices available (cue shot of Jeff Bezos, who just bought the town's best newspaper).  

 



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