Monday, October 21, 2013

Not As Seen On TV

Marco Rubio has a lot to learn about the intertubes.

Mr. Rubio expressed disappointment in his fellow Republicans for not “uniting” in the fight to defund Obamacare.

He criticized the Affordable Care Act’s rocky start, blaming the Obama administration for hiding the fact that not many Americans are signing up for the health care exchanges because of glitches on the website.

“Setting up a website where people can go online and buy something is not that complicated,” he said. “People do this every day.”

Mr. Rubio and the other talking heads are amazed that the Obama administration, which was so tech-savy during the campaigns, is having such a hard time with the healthcare site.  But just because there’s an ad on TV at 3:30 in the morning telling you that setting up your own business website is free and easy doesn’t mean that you can set one up to run the healthcare exchanges.  There’s a huge difference.  For one thing, a campaign isn’t a government-run operation and it can be done by the best and the brightest, not the lowest bidder weaving their way through the federal procurement and vendor process.  Second, it’s not just “buying something.”  As Jamie at C&L explains, it’s more than just a website.

There have been tons of articles speculating what went wrong, but being in this industry they just didn’t seem to add up. That’s until now. Thanks to the Sunlight Foundation, we now see that the major problem is one we all know too well. That would be cronyism, and cronyism is never as prevalent as it is in federal procurement.

According to the report, there were a total of 47 contractors that worked on the project. Now let me be clear that something like this isn’t uncommon. is more than just a website.

As matter of fact, the website is one of the smaller parts. Behind the scenes you’ve got this new hub that the website connects to to verify income, residency and a bunch of other things. That “hub” connects to numerous government agencies to determine this. That means the hub had to be developed, then integrated with systems in DHS, Social Security, the IRS and a bunch of other agencies. Once all that was done, the website’s back-end got developed to communicate with the hub and get this data. There’s a lot of moving parts here and if one goes down, everything goes down.

Or, put simply, it’s not whether or not you know how to build a website, it’s whether or not you know how to manage the game.

2 barks and woofs on “Not As Seen On TV

  1. A lot of complexity on a very large scale. Doesn’t surprise me that there were problems, although I’d think some of these should have been anticipated and worked out better prior to the rollout. Of course this doesn’t mean it can’t work and certainly doesn’t mean the death of freedom.

  2. One of the repugs said on TV: “if they can’t get a simple web site working, imagine the problems they will have with paying the providers and hospitals for the care they get under Obamacare”.

    Ummm, no. That would be a single payer system that you all would call “socialism”. The ACA doesn’t involve the government paying providers or hospitals. Insurance companies do that. All the ACA does is make private insurance available to more people or expand Medicare — both of which have been paying people for decades.

    At least if you’re going to criticize something, know how it works…

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