Thanks Obama! Technology Should Not Be An Afterthought
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User Rank: Strategist
11/27/2013 | 11:06:15 AM
Re: Where to start?
I agree with most of your points, except the last note needs an asterix.  The site they built didn't connect to IRS, DHS, and various state exchanges and authorities - so it's a bit unfair to compare.  In addition, I visited the site on the day they announced it and it was down from too much traffic.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 5:08:13 PM
Where to start?
As I commented on that LinkedIn discussion, where to start?  Hundreds of millions of dollars to create what should have cost $1M or less, 3.5 years but it was rushed out at the last minute with no end-to-end testing, 55 contractors (many apparently political cronies), all the security of a chunk of Swiss cheese, lousy ergonomics, and of course it can't handle more than a handful of people (if that).  I wouldn't enter information into that mess if you paid me that $1M.

Actually, it's such a horrible counterexample, breaking every well-known rule of how to do a Web site, that I don't think there are any lessons for IT.  But there are lessons for all of us as citizens; it's just a shame we apparently didn't learn those lessons from past failures of government bureaucracies to handle complex issues.

I heard that a few nerds put together a serviceable Web site in 3 days for a few hundred dollars, just to show that it can be done.
IW Pick
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 6:43:02 PM
Re: So if you ran the zoo?
Some good points here.  I'd add: What often gets lost in the finger pointing, even when the technology folks are at the table, is the extent to which contractors say "trust us, we can deliver what you've asked for" knowing full well that 1) the requirements are never 100% clear and 2) that given the political, budgetary, and scheduling forces at work, even the best business owner-contractor arrangements are forced to make compromises that inevitably lead to unexpected glitches.

Alex Kane Rudansky
Alex Kane Rudansky,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 2:13:38 PM
Re: So if you ran the zoo?
Couldn't agree more with "A technology professional needs to OWN this, take charge." I don't understand why the responsiblity and subsequent finger pointing was put on Obama and Sebelius. Where were the tech people? Why didn't a technology leader step up,  take responsibility, and point the project in a new direction earlier? That would've solved some headaches.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/21/2013 | 10:30:16 AM
Re: So if you ran the zoo?
It's difficult to say having no knowledge behind the scenes of the history, what got us to today, etc.

If I were called in to respond to the current state of the project, first off we'd need a pretty comprehensive roundtable of all involved, project documentation, etc. including the root issue, who's assisting, where are we. Identifying the issue should be followed by an immediate introduction to the stakeholders (i.e., the world?) with a 'we are here, present, to help, repair, complete' delivered with a dose of transparency into the issue - taking ownership, accountability, and detaching our US president from the 'project leader' spotlight. Obama is not responsible for the fact the website doesn't function as planned. Now, who is working on this? I read an article a few weeks ago [] about heavy-hitters stepping up to assist, where are we? It seems like no one wants to step in and officially take the reins, my guess is, because it appears to be a fairly thankless and highly public project. A technology professional needs to OWN this, take charge.

Needless to say, we are nowhere near the finger-pointing phase, all attention needs to be on identifying the issue, making the nation aware of the issue(s) and putting together an attainable roadmap to solution. The time to reflect on what could have been done better is much farther down the road.
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 10:02:15 AM
So if you ran the zoo?
If you were in charge of repairing the damage and getting working up to spec, where would you start?

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