Re: Could you have done better than Kathleen Sebelius?
I managed IT projects for 20 years in the government as an Air Force Officer. What happened on healthcare.gov is fairly typical of many, if not most, projects. The key here was this was a very visible project and so just muddling by was harder to conceal.
There are always plenty of indicators that things are going wrong. But because this is "normal" people who point them out or who try to change things are considered problems and don't fare well.
If instead one takes on a project and does it well, delivers on time with good quality, then inevitably that person had to do things very differently. That "very differently" pretty much guarantees that you've made a lot of people unhappy. Early in my career, after a hugely succesful IT project, I was told "they liked what you did, but not how you did it." My performance review was "average" which was of course the kiss of death for future promotions.
The bottom line to all this, in my observation and experience, is that those folks who rise to the top in this environment are rarely managers who have experienced successful projects (IT or otherwise). Therefore the notion that they will, suddenly, successfully manage a huge megaproject or be able to provide senior executive oversight to such a project is fanciful.
"It is better to fail conventionally, then it is to succeed unconventionally" -- generally works well in government, unless it is on an externally visible project.
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