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1/6/2014
09:06 AM
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Minnesota Slams IBM On Health Insurance Exchange Woes

IBM sends additional resources to work on Minnesota's state-run MNsure website after Gov. Mark Dayton blames company for problems processing applications for health insurance.

Minnesota's MNsure health insurance exchange site was down over the weekend as work continued to address technical problems.
Minnesota's MNsure health insurance exchange site was down over the weekend as work continued to address technical problems.

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RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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1/6/2014 | 9:24:54 AM
Scapegoat?
Doug, do you know if Minnesota's governor sent a similar letter to Maximus, the lead contractor? If he didn't, there may be something to the notion that he may be looking for a deep-pocketed scapegoat. 
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2014 | 9:50:55 AM
Re: Scapegoat?
Multiple Minnesota news outlets broke this story on Friday -- the Star Tribute, MinnPost.com, Pioneer Press, etc. -- and none mentioned any letter to Maximus, a Reston, Va.-based firm that is working on MNsure under a federal grant. It is clear that IBM Curam functionality was part of the problem. The StarTribute reported that in late November, state and county officials were forced to double-check up to 40,000 applications to determine if people were incorrectly denied premium subsidies or coverage on public programs. About 1,000 consumers were ultimately notified that they were denied tax credits they should have gotten. Curam software determines eligibility for coverage, subsidies, tax credits, etc.
WakjobDunfor
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WakjobDunfor,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/6/2014 | 12:40:02 PM
Re: Scapegoat?
We all know who is at fault here Bob - all those super Indian geniuses at IBM who are supposed to be the saviors of the US economy. AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2014 | 1:12:55 PM
Re: Scapegoat?
This got me thinking about how now-retired General Motors CIO Ralph Syzgenda, one of the world's biggest buyers of outsourcing, always said execs can't outsource the responsibility, and he'd hold business unit CIOs accountable if the outsourcer they picked failed: "Every time you pick someone, you bet your job here," Szygenda said in our 2002 profile. "That's the way the marketplace is set up."

http://www.informationweek.com/chief-of-the-year-ralph-szygenda/d/d-id/1017033?

 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2014 | 1:41:46 PM
Re: Scapegoat?
It just seems to me that, rather than take responsibility for fixing the site, the Minnesota governor is trying to relieve himself of all responsibility. And he's not pointing the finger at the prime contractor but at the biggest name subcontractor: IBM. From what Doug says, IBM's software was indeed at the root of the problem, or was one significant part of the problem, but outing IBM while it's trying to make good is bad form. It's not like IBM ignored the governor's letter. It's throwing resources at the problem. And where's the prime contractor in all of this?
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2014 | 4:27:52 PM
Re: Scapegoat?
Chris, I agree, shifting responsibility to the outsource contractor is dodging responsibility.  But it probably deserves mentioning: The CIO doesn't always hold all the calls at the table, so one needs be careful about adoping Syzgenda's philosophy too literally.   
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2014 | 6:28:16 PM
Re: Scapegoat?
Yes, and the public sector operates quite differently in terms of the freedom a CIO has to choose contractors. GM can pick the best partner for the job, period. A gov IT exec needs to navigate a truly broken procurement system. Still, agree with Rob, it's bad form to go public like that.
WakjobDunfor
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WakjobDunfor,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/6/2014 | 12:39:15 PM
Another IBM failure
IBM is 71% Indian workers. I thought they were all super IT geniuses?

 

Why isn't this working as described?
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
1/6/2014 | 1:29:48 PM
Re: Another IBM failure
That's funny, been using IBM servers and support since 1988 and have yet to meet an Indian IBM worker. Are you telling me the guys in Rochester MN, the home of the i5 server and o/s, are mostly Indian? I think you should recheck your facts, or at least post back what your source is.

Just because 1000 claims were incorrect, is that a software problem or the data loaded into system the software used? I have a hard time believing all these rules are hardcoded in the code. Did IBM really key the data for the rules?  Was IBM responsible for the testing of those rules? Seems pretty quick to throw IBM under the bus, especially since they are major employer in that state. Politicians, idiots.
MarkS048
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MarkS048,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/7/2014 | 11:55:57 AM
Re: Another IBM failure
Terry, as someone that worked at IBM in Rochester for 12 year I can tell you IBM Rochester is no major employer in Minnesota anymore. Yes, they used to be but are not anymore.  And I say I used to work there because in the my last two years there 50% of my co-workers lost their jobs as the jobs were being off shored to India.  So no, Rochester does not have a large group of Indian workers, the jobs were moved to India. 

 

As far as your last paragraph, I agree with ya, that's not a software/integration problem, thats a data entry problem.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2014 | 12:34:37 PM
Re: Another IBM failure
That's disappointing to hear, Mark. I knew IBM had moved many things to India to get cheaper labor rates but was hoping Rochester was spared. Thanks for info.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2014 | 1:32:53 PM
Re: Another IBM failure
Curam Software, the IBM unit deeply involved in this deployment, was headquarted in Ireland before it was acquired in 2011. Do you have racial/nationalistic slurs you also want to heap upon Irish people, WakjobDunfor? 
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
1/6/2014 | 7:38:55 PM
Where's the prime contractor? Whispering in the governor's ear!
In ansewr to Rob's question below, "Where's the prime contractor in all of this?" I suspect the prime contractor is leaning over the governor's desk and whispering in his ear. Yes, what's happening is poor form and IBM is both fixing the problem and serving as the scapegoat. The governor is watching Obama's approval rating go down and covering himself.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
1/6/2014 | 11:51:34 PM
Re: Where's the prime contractor? Whispering in the governor's ear!
This is another example of a complex IT integration project. The difficult part of IT work is not about single piece of software but the integration, especially how you get products from different vendors work together. The technical stuff is just one side of the coin. On the other side the project management stands out - e.g. do you have a concrete but lean process following the recommended guideline, e.g. PMI guidance or PRINCE2 guide. But even all these conditions are met, somethings the chaos can still happen.
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