CBS wonders: Did anyone bother to test the ObamaCare software first?

posted at 10:01 am on October 9, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

This CBS report is notable not just for the questions it asks, but the manner in which it recaps the disastrous rollout of the biggest big-government project in 50 years.  It’s not every day that one sees a major media outlet use a unicorn analogy when reporting on a key Obama administration effort, after all:

No one knows how many people have managed to enroll because the administration refuses to release those numbers, but the website’s launch has been rocky.

Media outlets have struggled to find anyone who’s actually been successful. The Washington Post even illustrated that sought-after person as a unicorn, and USA Today called the launch an “inexcusable mess” and a “nightmare.”

We’ll get back to the USA Today editorial in a moment. Meanwhile, CBS asks — and then answers — the question that Congress will want to ask when the inevitable hearings begin.  The White House and HHS had a three-and-a-half-year head start on the insurance exchange rollout.  Did anyone in that time bother to test it?  CBS’ expert says no, and also kicks out the strut underneath the White House claim that it’s massive traffic that’s caused the problems:

“It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it,” said Luke Chung, an online database programmer.

Chung supports the new health care law but said it was not the demand that is crashing the site. He thinks the entire website needs a complete overhaul.

“It’s not even close. It’s not even ready for beta testing for my book. I would be ashamed and embarrassed if my organization delivered something like that,” he said.

I’ve worked on massive database projects in the private sector, and I suspect that Chung is correct.  We do know that some testing took place, which is why everyone involved in the project was sending up warning flares for months about its status. HHS and the White House might have rolled it out with full knowledge of its incompetence hoping that they could provide enough assistance to jolly people along, but I don’t think that was the case. The failure caught them flat-footed last Tuesday, and the failure of the weekend retooling effort seemed to do the same. It looks as though no one bothered to actually sit down and try to go from A to Z in the system themselves.

By the way, in one such project in my experience, the company got rid of the program managers when the team didn’t deliver … after eight months. There isn’t a private-sector firm in the world that would have tolerated a web-portal project taking 42 months and delivering this kind of train wreck.

Speaking of which, let’s turn to the editors at USA Today for their take on the situation:

Alas, the administration managed to turn the experience for most of those visitors into a nightmare. Websites crashed, refused to load, or offered bizarre and incomprehensible choices. Even though the system was shut down for repairs over the weekend, Monday’s early reports continued to suggest an epic screw-up. …

Park said the administration expected 50,000 to 60,000 simultaneous users. It got 250,000. Compare that with the similarly rocky debut seven years ago of exchanges to obtain Medicare drug coverage. The Bush administration projected 20,000 simultaneous users and built capacity for 150,000.

That’s the difference between competence and incompetence.

The too-much-demand excuse also is less than the full story. In addition to grossly underestimating demand, the administration and its contractors seem to have made mistakes in building the websites. The system for verifying consumer identity has had persistent problems, as have pull-down menus.

Nor were problems confined to the 36 state health exchanges run by the federal government. Sites run by 14 states and Washington, D.C., bogged down because they have to refer to federal databases to verify consumers’ identity.

Remember, too, that USA Today’s editors support ObamaCare, as the editorial makes clear.  But this isn’t even the worst of the collapses in the ACA, as former Bush-era economic adviser Charles Blahous informs readers at Real Clear Markets today.  Its financial underpinnings have already begun to crumble:

Another of the ACA’s important financing sources-supposedly delivering $140 billion in revenues over 10 years-was the requirement that employers offer affordable coverage to workers or pay a penalty. But earlier this year the Obama Administration announced it would not enforce this requirement during its statutory implementation year of 2014.

Labor leaders’ recent appeal to expand ACA health exchange subsidies to multi-employer plans is but one example of a cost-escalating dynamic that many of us predicted. As I observed last year, “The ACA creates a horizontal inequity between two hypothetical low-income individuals; one who purchases insurance via an exchange receives a substantial direct federal subsidy, whereas one who receives employer-provided insurance (ESI) does not. This differential treatment could well lead either to the second individual’s moving into the health exchanges (thus increasing participation rates) or to the federal government expanding low-income subsidies to those with ESI (increasing costs).” …

Finally, there are the ACA’s most dubious financing sources. These include a new 3.8 percent “unearned income Medicare contribution” (UIMC) and a new tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans. The income thresholds for the UIMC are not indexed for inflation, so under law most workers would eventually be subject to the tax-over 80 percent of workers within 75 years, according to the Medicare trustees. Past experience with legislation overriding other non-indexed taxes like the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) demonstrate why projections of escalating UIMC revenues should be taken with a hefty grain of salt. So, too, with the so-called “Cadillac plan tax,” designed to hit more and more health insurance plans over time, an outcome that organized labor is determined to prevent.

The problematic nature of the ACA’s finances is such that CBO’s latest “long-term budget outlook” singled out its implementation as one of the biggest sources of future fiscal strains. Through 2038, CBO attributes 35 percent of the cost growth in federal health programs to population aging, 40 percent to general health inflation, and another 26 percent to the implementation of this single law. CBO now projects that merely delaying ACA implementation for one year would save $36 billion.

Maybe we just need more unicorns …

Update: Our good friend Jeryl Bier warned everyone about the problem on September 12th.


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I doubt they tested it, but I’m very confident that the security features were rock solid even though nothing else worked. If you entered your personal information I’m sure you have nothing to worry about…

forest on October 9, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Americans wonder: Did CBS bother to ask how this would work when they were cheerleading for its passage?

changer1701 on October 9, 2013 at 10:07 AM

In virtually any IT department, Software QA is usually nothing more than an afterthought, and is the first department cut when IT goes over budget.

Given that we’re talking about the Federal Government, I’m sure this is even MORE pronounced there.

Meople on October 9, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Did anyone bother to test the software?

Sources say LOTS.

Gatsu on October 9, 2013 at 10:08 AM

CBS wonders: Did anyone bother to test the ObamaCare software first?

That’s a rhetorical question or they forgot the /sarc tag, right?

ShainS on October 9, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Did anyone bother to test the ObamaCare software Socialism first

The masses are always the guinea pigs.

faraway on October 9, 2013 at 10:10 AM

They didn’t even test the idea of Obamacare. We’re the lab rats. Why would they go live with anything but Alpha?

Axe on October 9, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Yeah right. Now that’s funny.

chewmeister on October 9, 2013 at 10:10 AM

9 days later… I finally made it past the first page to create an account. Got the e-mail and I clicked on the activation link and I was told by the site the link expired (this was within 5 minutes of receiving the email).

What a cluster fark.

James on October 9, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Love the pic.

Chris of Rights on October 9, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Finally, there are the ACA’s most dubious financing sources.

Every single one of the funding sources for this ridiculous law will either under-perform or just get abandoned altogether.

It was a pack of lies, just as the Tea Party had warned.

Might have to put together a chart of what the Obama/MSM said about ACA and what the Tea Party said and compare it to what’s actually happening.

forest on October 9, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Train wreck?
Forward!

VibrioCocci on October 9, 2013 at 10:12 AM

I wouldn’t trust these exchanges to open an umbrella, let alone with my most sensitive personal data.

Those idiots aren’t getting a d@mn thing from me.

Meople on October 9, 2013 at 10:13 AM

The names and addresses of applicants that don’t sign up go directly to the IRS for penalties.

That part works perfectly.

MESSAGE TO GOP: This is the way to stop ObamaCare in it’s tracks. When people find out that just by applying they are subjecting themselves to thousands of $$ in fines or an IRS audit.

faraway on October 9, 2013 at 10:13 AM

1,700 exemptions and counting. They know its a disaster and that’s why they exempted themselves. Only democrat voters still believe.

DanMan on October 9, 2013 at 10:14 AM

There isn’t a private-sector firm in the world that would have tolerated a web-portal project taking 42 months and delivering this kind of train wreck.

Train wreck? More like the Mother of All Clusterf*cks.

TXUS on October 9, 2013 at 10:16 AM

“It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it,” said Luke Chung, an online database programmer.

That also applies to the actual legislation – and leftist ideology in general.

Common Sense Floridian on October 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM

There’s another healthcare initiative called ICD-10 that’s being implemented at the same time. Nobody seems to be covering this, but it’s affecting every medical care provider in the country, and everyone has to update their billing systems to accommodate the new diagnostic coding plan.

The system switchover date has been pushed back to October 1, 2014 because nobody could meet the previous date of Oct 1, 2013. A total nightmare, if you’re doing any health-related IT right now.

DarthBrooks on October 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM

They figured it had to work, ‘casue they felt really good about it.

Hey, man, in the end, isn’t that what really matters?

mankai on October 9, 2013 at 10:18 AM

This is typical for lefties and government. They live in a fantasyland where the private sector provides an infinite money tree, which required no work and no knowhow to grow. They figure if those bozos in flyover-land can do it, then it just happens automatically.

Fenris on October 9, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Did anyone bother to test the obamacare software first?

YES, and it is working exactly as designed.

Pork-Chop on October 9, 2013 at 10:20 AM

All that money that this boondoggle has received thus far

Cripe

cmsinaz on October 9, 2013 at 10:21 AM

No one knows how many people have managed to enroll because the administration refuses to release those numbers, but the website’s launch has been rocky.

Custer’s strategy at Little Big Horn was “rocky”… this thing is downright disastrous.

mankai on October 9, 2013 at 10:21 AM

MSNBC has finally come out of the closet and openly admits their new MSNBC website will be for ““progressives. Check their website.

rplat on October 9, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Chad Henderson was the first lab rat.

Happy Nomad on October 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM

I’ve worked on massive database projects in the private sector, and I suspect that Chung is correct.

I write this sort of software professionally and have done so for 28 years. The ZeroCare(tm) software was not SQA’d at all. It appears to be hacked together as opposed to architected, designed, documented, implemented and tested. There’s usually a management problem that causes an EpicClusterFarkNado(tm) such as this.

I’ve seen that play out a few times.

dogsoldier on October 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Did anyone bother to test the obamacare software first?

The only part they tested was the part that sent your personal data directly to the IRS and NSA. That worked fine. Roll it out, baby!

mankai on October 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM

A trainwreck but by golly, no one in the Press could ask the President on question on it during an hour long Presser yesterday.

WisRich on October 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM

I’m reminded of Al Bundy’s classic quote – “And you’re here to help me, huh?”

Saltyron on October 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM

They want us/you to beg like dogs for Single Payer…

mjbrooks3 on October 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM

With Bark and Frau Mengele running the show I’m surprised this happened, those two have a long history of successful project management in the private sector.

Bishop on October 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM

mankai on October 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM

I’ll bet they have some cool looking schedules in MS Project.

I wonder how many of the developers were US Citizens and how many H1-B “guest workers” worked on the project. I’m just curious seeing as we have 25 million plus unemployed…

dogsoldier on October 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM

The fundamental flaw is in trying to centrally plan a “free” market.

rbj on October 9, 2013 at 10:27 AM

There’s another healthcare initiative called ICD-10 that’s being implemented at the same time. Nobody seems to be covering this, but it’s affecting every medical care provider in the country, and everyone has to update their billing systems to accommodate the new diagnostic coding plan.

The system switchover date has been pushed back to October 1, 2014 because nobody could meet the previous date of Oct 1, 2013. A total nightmare, if you’re doing any health-related IT right now.

DarthBrooks on October 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM

The company I work for already has it wrapped up and working. Of course we don’t deal with billing, but we actually provide all of the ICD-10 codes to hospitals and healthcare professionals who need them. However my Project Manager knows the issues because she is the one talking to all of the customers (hospitals, pharmacies, etc.).

MobileVideoEngineer on October 9, 2013 at 10:27 AM

With Bark and Frau Mengele running the show I’m surprised this happened, those two have a long history of successful project management in the private sector.

Bishop on October 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM

/SNORT!!

dogsoldier on October 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM

The Obamassiah has DECREED that it shall work!

GarandFan on October 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM

The Washington Post even illustrated that sought-after person as a unicorn, and USA Today called the launch an “inexcusable mess” and a “nightmare.”

Are CBS and the other lapdogs beginning to become concerned they may get some collateral damage due to their 5+ years of unwavering positive coverage for The One?

socalcon on October 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM

YES, and it is working exactly as designed.

Pork-Chop on October 9, 2013 at 10:20 AM

I think ObamaCare was designed to lead to single payer but I don’t think these failures are part of that. ObamaCare is supposed to make “private” insurance companies and businesses offering (or that used to offer) health insurance look like the bad guys by squeezing them. These failures reveal that the government is incompetent.
It makes it harder to argue for single payer when you are seen as incompetent and not the private sector.

gwelf on October 9, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Sequester!

/libfreeordie

gwelf on October 9, 2013 at 10:31 AM

If you entered your personal information I’m sure you have nothing to worry about…

forest on October 9, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Certainly the press would love to get the list of enrollees, to include Ho Lee Fuk and E. Normis Johnson, and be the first to publish it.

socalcon on October 9, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Frontpage 2000 is pretty advanced stuff. We’re all shocked it didn’t work as well as we had planned… although it is totally awesome and stuff!

/Sebelius

mankai on October 9, 2013 at 10:32 AM

As someone who has labored under FDA regulations for over 20 years, I have to wonder if these software developers are required to comply with equivalent requirements. Ok I’m done wondering. No way, no how. Even a small change requires a risk assessment, developing and approving a plan, developing and approving a validation protocol, executing the protocol, review and approval of the subsequent report (or adjudication of negative findings which may require starting over). Oh and then appropriate training of users.

FDA’s take on software development and software changes…

Patrick S on October 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM

This is the difference between “government work” and project management and execution in the private sector. It doesn’t matter if it works, just make it look good so votes can be counted. Budget? What budget? There are no budgetary controls whatsoever in any federal project. Numbers mean nothing except if they are votes to this crowd. The only “budget” is the dollar amount that can, and will, be confiscated for use on pet politburo projects and crony bribes. Mad anything like this happened in my 34 years managing technology projects in the private sector – unemployment would be the nom-du-jour.

HomeoftheBrave on October 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM

You know what would really save this? A bunch of arrogant young people with a sense of entitlement fanning out in brightly colored T-shirts proclaiming the wonders of Obamacare.

Happy Nomad on October 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM

I think ObamaCare was designed to lead to single payer but I don’t think these failures are part of that. ObamaCare is supposed to make “private” insurance companies and businesses offering (or that used to offer) health insurance look like the bad guys by squeezing them. These failures reveal that the government is incompetent.
It makes it harder to argue for single payer when you are seen as incompetent and not the private sector.

gwelf on October 9, 2013 at 10:30 AM

I wouldn’t put it past them to say that none of this would be an issue if they didn’t have to deal with all of these different systems that the insurance companies have and that it would be easier to just implement one central system that everyone can go to and get the same experience. Of course they would be ignoring the fact that if they did that then they would have to deal with even more systems with the hospitals and urgent cares. Funny how the company I work for can deal with so many different pharmacies and hospitals without any problems.

MobileVideoEngineer on October 9, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Patrick S on October 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Oh, and what Patrick S says is oh so true. Been doing this for the last 13 years.

HomeoftheBrave on October 9, 2013 at 10:36 AM

I haven’t been able to register, or review plans, and just got notice my premium went up another $60 a month. When does this get affordable?

rubberneck on October 9, 2013 at 10:36 AM

You know what would really save this? A bunch of arrogant young people with a sense of entitlement fanning out in brightly colored T-shirts proclaiming the wonders of Obamacare.

Happy Nomad on October 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Yeah, like brightly colored red shirts with matching neckerchiefs. We could call them….I don’t know…Young Pioneers or something like that.

Bishop on October 9, 2013 at 10:37 AM

I am suspect, in that the Administration is not revealing the private contractors that got paid millions.

First, JugEars is typically quick to throw someone (anyone!) under the bus.

Second, I speculate (conspiracy theory alert) that they contracted with that enterprise that Romney used for his ‘election day advantage’ called ORCA (how else to assure Orca’s miserable failure in November). Maybe that’s why they’re delaying the identification of the firms?

socalcon on October 9, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Everyone who comments on the train wreck is quick to say, “but I approve of Obamcare”, just to emphasize their street cred.

Yet it never dawns on them that this disastrous rollout is SYMPTOMATIC of government in general, and if a generally straightforward thing like a website turns out this way, what in the world does that say about the actual (non-) delivery of health care ???

Reality bites for liberals, but still, they say, “but I support Obamacare, and I’m glad they pay for condoms and knee pads”

williampeck1958 on October 9, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Amazing!

Another failure for the inexperienced empty suit, provided ‘stealth’ protection by the MSM, and foisted on the low-information electorate in 2008.

Go figure.

socalcon on October 9, 2013 at 10:41 AM

It makes it harder to argue for single payer when you are seen as incompetent and not the private sector.

gwelf on October 9, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Also, if you have to log onto a website, why does it have to be an incompetent flailing government website that can’t keep your information private? Why not push to lift the ban on buying health insurance across state lines? I live in NY but I get my car and house insurance over the internet and the company is based in Texas.

monalisa on October 9, 2013 at 10:43 AM

This CBS report is notable not just for the questions it asks …

apparently though, those questions are not important enough to ask the President.

PackerBronco on October 9, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Now just imagine how big a story this would be if there was no government shutdown.

jerryofva on October 9, 2013 at 10:49 AM

I think ObamaCare was designed to lead to single payer but I don’t think these failures are part of that. ObamaCare is supposed to make “private” insurance companies and businesses offering (or that used to offer) health insurance look like the bad guys by squeezing them. These failures reveal that the government is incompetent.
It makes it harder to argue for single payer when you are seen as incompetent and not the private sector.

gwelf on October 9, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Yeah, I basically agree with this. The liberals’ tactic is usually to slow-boil the frog. They also have been careful to make sure that as they strip away the money and resources from the voters that belong to the opposition via taxation, fees, and other mechanisms, they are handing out equal amounts of goodies to their own voters.

The problem for them is this law is so bad it’s causing significant pain to their wealthy voters, while delivering basically no benefits at all to their poor voters and likely causing pain the ones who had enough cash to afford health care. This is why we’re seeing such a backlash and why I think there would be significant chance of repeal even as late as 2016… if we had a real opposition party, that is, which we don’t.

Doomberg on October 9, 2013 at 10:50 AM

I’ve worked on massive database projects in the private sector, and I suspect that Chung is correct.

This isn’t a database project.

It’s a website.

It’s a front-end UI to enter data to what is essentially a data entry form. That’s all it is. The “database” (plural) connections happen behind the scenes. What doesn’t work is the simplest possible part of all this, which should lead any reasonable person to ask “if the easy part doesn’t work, how can the hard part work?”

We are years away from seeing this project get off the ground.

MTF on October 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Did anyone bother to test Obama before they elected him?

LetsBfrank on October 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Yeah, like brightly colored red shirts with matching neckerchiefs. We could call them….I don’t know…Young Pioneers or something like that.

Bishop on October 9, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Well, pioneers are explorers. So they probably should be given notepads as well to expolore and make note of which of their friends and neighbors aren’t exactly in love with the wonders of Obamacare. Just so, you know, somebody from the administration can follow-up with them about their concerns.

Happy Nomad on October 9, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Let. It. Burn.

Deafdog on October 9, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Happy Nomad on October 9, 2013 at 10:53 AM

It would be easier if each child was required to be a Young Pioneer and could then report on their own family members directly to their school.

Bishop on October 9, 2013 at 11:03 AM

CBS wonders: Did anyone bother to test the ObamaCare software first?

Why, wasn’t that what the launch was for? Following SanFranNans example, we had to have it in operation to see what was in it.

hawkeye54 on October 9, 2013 at 11:06 AM

We are years away from seeing this project get off the ground.

MTF on October 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Please, God.

Cleombrotus on October 9, 2013 at 11:08 AM

It would be easier if each child was required to be a Young Pioneer and could then report on their own family members directly to their school.

Bishop on October 9, 2013 at 11:03 AM

I thought that children reporting on their family members was already part of the Bammycare regs, without the formal youth organizations, although I wouldn’t doubt with leftist influence our own BSA and GS could certainly result in what you write.

hawkeye54 on October 9, 2013 at 11:09 AM

The software is just an outgrowth of the federal system for getting specially made software done.

Name the last piece of software that had to be delivered on day one that had to connect up databases from multiple State exchanges, multiple insurance companies, internal government databases at the IRS and HHS, and then accept logins and work for millions of individuals.

It has never happened.

The entire system for getting software done in the federal government that isn’t for a military system (you know, with only a couple of users at a time and a big *kaboom* at the end?) or Commercial Off The Shelf has gone belly up each time it has been tried as a single, massive rollout. The FBI failed TWICE in the ’90s to link up disparate databases inside the FBI just so that FBI agents could check mugshots, fingerprints, blood analysis, etc. from one computer. Didn’t happen. TWICE. They finally realized they had to do a very slow change over time so that older systems could get new functions that could be delivered securely… and that would be a decade or more to wait for the upgrade of those systems.

The M&Ms started relatively small, migrated slowly as digital systems became available and it still isn’t the easiest of systems to work with. The IRS has a happy front end, but that took years to specify for and years to develop.

Program managers leaving after eight months? The norm for a Death March project which I was warning about over a year ago. Read Ed Yourdon’s book Death March to see what this is all about. Its a good read not just from a tech perspective or a program management perspective, but it gives insight into how projects are designed, run and why they fail like they do. The major problem? Poor specs, floating targets, changing deadlines, the Mythical Man Month, and then the declining moral and shift of personnel which then signals a Death March in full swing.

The law is horrific.

The government system of trying to get specialized software is a nightmare.

This entire thing had FAIL written on it since day one when the massive law was signed: nothing that big CAN be implemented in one shot. The failures in the private and public sector are so numerous it isn’t funny, and anyone who thinks that this can be done by the government needs to actually start reading on IT programmatics.

ajacksonian on October 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

We are years away from seeing this project get off the ground.

MTF on October 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Please, God.

Cleombrotus on October 9, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Amen. Your words to his ears…..although maybe Bammycare fits into the Tribulation of which I’ve often heard Christians speak.

hawkeye54 on October 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

A former employer of mine called me up this summer desperate to hire programmers for a hospital billing group he was trying to set up. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Then I hung up.

JimK on October 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

It would be easier if each child was required to be a Young Pioneer and could then report on their own family members directly to their school.

Bishop on October 9, 2013 at 11:03 AM

You guys could give them more responsibilities as time went on. Nutritional literature, limited policing power over basic citizenship responsibilities. You know, small things. A ticket book, basically.

Axe on October 9, 2013 at 11:12 AM

The ACA is Exhibit “A” for fascism or more politely, corporatism. Private companies are allowed to operate under the banner of the State. Socialism would be where the State runs the whole shootin’ match.

Tekov Yahoser on October 9, 2013 at 11:14 AM

“Government is just a word for those things we do together.” – President Obama.

Or the word “incompetent” might stand for this thing we are supposed to be doing together (even though a majority of the country wishes not to do so – how undemocratic in a democratic republic.)

This train wreck of a bill, passed by parliamentary trick against the clear wishes of the majority of the country; following Senator Brown’s election to the seat previously held by Senator Kennedy, an election in which Mr Brown ran against the legislation; something that we had to pass to see what was in it; full of drafting errors requiring fixing; requiring numerous waivers and subsidies; financially unsustainable; and now a disaster in software design; is a great example of “good enough for government work.”

Mr. Obama ran on the platform that he was going to change America. America is usually competence, not this.

A.S.R. on October 9, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Unicorns!

We got the unicorn alright…except it’s pointy horn is in the other end.

JetBoy on October 9, 2013 at 11:15 AM

You guys could give them more responsibilities as time went on. Nutritional literature, limited policing power over basic citizenship responsibilities. You know, small things. A ticket book, basically.

Axe on October 9, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Too slow on the road to societal perfection. I’m thinking an AK47 and a supply of blue plastic bags and a spool of wire for each child would be better.

Bishop on October 9, 2013 at 11:17 AM

I can’t believe how tightly dems are holding to this.

There will be an election in 1 year. If this thing keeps going on this trajectory (imagine tax season next year), dems should not only be worried about losing the election, they should be worried about escaping with their lives.

kurtzz3 on October 9, 2013 at 11:19 AM

So…what it all boils down to is that you’re trying to tell me that my health insurance premiums are not going to go down 3000%?

Is that about it?

Solaratov on October 9, 2013 at 11:22 AM

They are still writing the password security questions. Latest drafts:

1. Why is Obama so awesome?
2. Name your favorite democratic party program.
3. Why are Republicans such terrorists?
4. Where should we send TEA Party members?

slickwillie2001 on October 9, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Found a picture of the server they are using to process “Obamacare”

http://battellemedia.com/images/HomeComputer.jpg

ProfShadow on October 9, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Too slow on the road to societal perfection. I’m thinking an AK47 and a supply of blue plastic bags and a spool of wire for each child would be better.

Bishop on October 9, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Only those who have proven themselves loyal to the state and party. Those accepted into the Komsomol because of their “right living.” That is to say, only those older than 14-years-old should be permitted AK47s.

Happy Nomad on October 9, 2013 at 11:28 AM

For all you non-App Devs out there…

There are several layers to testing. Software is typically designed in a somewhat modular system and each one goes through these layers.

First, there is unit testing by the developers. Depending on requirements, this can be loose or strict… with strict meaning actual tests baked into the software that is run during a build or migration, that tests for past requirements in case the developer breaks older features when implementing newer features. Unit testing is probably where developers and project managers started throwing up warnings that the code was unstable. Skipping the creation of automated unit tests is the first clue that you’re cutting corners on quality.

Next there is system integration testing, which means testing the integrated code modules to make sure you can process a user all the way through. It sounds like the code never made it out of system integration testing… otherwise, people at least would have been able to sign up. Common errors and deviations from requirements are usually caught here.

User acceptance testing is where the business owners go through the software and test it from a business process standpoint. This is usually the last gateway before deployment to production and is used as signoff for the codebase. Users “accept” the software as fulfilling the original business need.

It’s pretty obvious that testing only made it through the first testing layer, which really isn’t a test of the full system. In other words, the software was tested enough by the developers to know there were problems, and they signaled it. But no real testing of the system occurred before throwing the code into production.

dominigan on October 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Again, the software is NOT the problem with Obamacare. They can fix the Obamacare software. They can’t “fix” the disastrous Obamacare economics.

Can we please stop focussing on the software?

blink on October 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Think of the failing exchange portals as a PR synecdoche for Obamacare in its entirety. Numbers and economic arguments go right over most people’s heads. “I can’t log on.” “I keep getting error messages”– everyone (especially that greatly-coveted young healthy adult demographic) understands. And understands it as symptomatic of the whole thing.

I’d worry less about what the press will say if they ever get the software working… oh, about 6 months from now… because if it ever does work, THEN comes the sticker shock. And at that point the public outrage will redouble: “You mean I wasted a gazillion hours trying to log onto this crappy system and now it tells me it isn’t FREE?!”

de rigueur on October 9, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Gee. I didn’t expect to see so many pro-ObamaCare software responses.

Obama and his gang of crooks must have had about everyone on the handout list getting a piece of the action to come up with a disaster like this one.

How much longer are the stupid American people going to put up with this criminal administration and it’s antics?

dockywocky on October 9, 2013 at 11:37 AM

dominigan on October 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

What makes you think they wrote unit tests at all? I wouldn’t be surprised if they developed on the production servers and had a chaotic commit policy. And the people raising the warnings were either the developers themselves or some other at least semi-sane manager who had access to it.

Fenris on October 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

dominigan on October 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

For a system as massive as ObamaCare, nation-wide, pertaining to everyone’s most sensitive personal, financial and medical data. Along with the simple fact that it impacts everyone’s healthcare!

All this means that the people responsible for making the call to push all this out to production without even touching SIT and UAT, shouldn’t just be fired, they should be brought up on charges and facing serious jail time.

Pushing this system out in that condition is inexcusable. And people need to go to prison for making that call.

Meople on October 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Did anyone from CBS bother to ask this question at the presser yesterday?

Kissmygrits on October 9, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Best advice regarding Healthcare.org ?

kurtzz3 on October 9, 2013 at 11:47 AM

If you’ve already created a Marketplace account, great!

That’s good practice for when we roll out the real thing, find out the system we’ve been using to sign people up before the roll out is incompatible with the system we roll out, and you have to sign up all over again!

taznar on October 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

For you software guys: The Plight of the Navigator

…Presenting a product — an insurance policy — isn’t the hard part. The hard part is figuring out which federal and state programs and tax credits a person or family is eligible for. Getting that part right takes creating an extremely complex rules engine.

About 1,700 individual rules affect eligibility for health insurance subsidies in Oregon. Children might qualify under different rules from their parents, or half-siblings might have different eligibility based on their parents’ income. In Oregon, writing the eligibility rules engine took 12 people nine months. Confirming eligibility requires integration with multiple outside data sources, such as confirming income and citizenship with federal sources, and that process is what separates it from ecommerce sites….

Read the whole thing.

slickwillie2001 on October 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM

I’ve worked on large software systems and implementations for almost 30 years. This project was budgeted to cost 683 million dollars. That is an ENORMOUS budget for something that was to be completed in 3.5 years. Let’s just do a simple calculation. $683 divided by by, say $200/hour for the resources gives you about 3.4 million person hours. That gets you about 1707 person years. That is an unmanageable project by definition. Add to this that there are three vendors involved (at least) and the complication grows. Using project estimation techniques developed for IT, the staffing profile peaks at over 3000 staff. Impossible to manage in 42 months. The staffing profile gets out of control because you can’t assume productivity that is off the charts. This kind of project would have an ideal project length of about 80 months (6.66 years) and would peak at about 150 staff. When you compress the schedule you increase risk.

They probably tested parts of it and maybe stress tested a bit, but they were simply given an impossible task.

BillyWilly on October 9, 2013 at 11:51 AM

And it’s my understanding the Cadillac tax will only hit at the end of the year when taxes are computed. So our retirement system, run by Dems and union hacks, has been very, very silent about how much this is going to cost us and how they are going to charge people. I think they will just ask for more money from the taxpayers. This situation will affect many retirement systems, seems like.

PattyJ on October 9, 2013 at 12:00 PM

BillyWilly on October 9, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Which is why it shouldn’t have been passed in the first place. If the Dims had done their research instead of slamming it through in the dark of night, by bribes, threats, misinformation and illegal parliamentary gimmicks, we might not be neck deep in sh!t right now as a country.

Meople on October 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Which is why it shouldn’t have been passed in the first place. If the Dims had done their research instead of slamming it through in the dark of night, by bribes, threats, misinformation and illegal parliamentary gimmicks, we might not be neck deep in sh!t right now as a country.

Meople on October 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Exactly. The whole idea is an unmanageable mess and always will be. BTW, assuming they meant it to fail to unveil single-payer, nothing is different. It’s still too big to manage. Single-payer in a country with 310 million souls simply can’t be done. They might try, but it will be a continuous train wreck.

BillyWilly on October 9, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Last week, I found the HealthCare.gov site source code on github, which was posted by Glen Corp (a DC Based web design company) 3 months ago.

Shortly thereafter, it was republished on Github, almost verbatim, but the official Government account. Here’s my post on Twitchy…

3 months ago, they posted the web site code on the open source site Github:

First, on this account:

https://github.com/blencorp/HealthCare.gov-Open-Source-Release/

Shortly thereafter, it appeared under the offical Healthcare.gov account

https://github.com/CMSgov/healthcare.gov

Blencorp seems to get a lot of juicy gov’t contracts, no?

http://www.blencorp.com/projects/

Looks of all their sites is the same.

Also: Blen Corp’s social media account and blog were very active up until just a month ago..now they are quiet.

They launched https://www.unfurlough.us/ a few days after the stoppage to help their ‘friends’. They even linked Mayor Rahm saying ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’

There could be more, but if would be odd to have more than one company taking the lead. I would expect them to have contracted Experian for ID validation…but anway..

RightWired on October 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Whadda ya mean it doesn’t work! Its just a computer isn’t it ? Yes No On Off Stop Go In Out True False. How hard can it be … just buy more computers!!

steveracer on October 9, 2013 at 1:06 PM

The short-term fix is easy. Throw up a quick WordPress site with a couple of SSL-secured forms that you fill out your info in, which then simply send a quick encrypted text document to a protected server. Then you hire a bunch of people to read those forms and get back to people. Just temporarily of course . . .

Of course . . . right?

You watch. By the end of this fiasco, a whole new Department of Reading People’s Healthcare Forms will be created, and a whole new Democrat voting bloc will be made from thin air.

See? Win-win.

JoseQuinones on October 9, 2013 at 1:14 PM

You know what would really save this? A bunch of arrogant young people with a sense of entitlement fanning out in brightly colored T-shirts proclaiming the wonders of Obamacare.

Happy Nomad on October 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM

So they will dance and sing in the streets, right?

slickwillie2001 on October 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Ok, that is never ever going to work correctly.

dogsoldier on October 9, 2013 at 1:30 PM

RightWired on October 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM

I wonder how many times the source has been downloaded now. Hacker paradise.

dogsoldier on October 9, 2013 at 1:32 PM

This isn’t a database project. It’s a website.
MTF on October 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

What you are saying should be true, but it isn’t. And that’s the problem. There are apparently no crisp multitier layers.

For example, the security question droplist selection items are retrieved over the wire on-demand upon a User click, from a secondary database remote the the back-end.

This type of architecture is worse than novice – it’s downright unimaginable in the private sector.

Tsar of Earth on October 9, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Why not push to lift the ban on buying health insurance across state lines? I live in NY but I get my car and house insurance over the internet and the company is based in Texas.

monalisa on October 9, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Because the health insurance companies lobbied heavily against it. They wanted their monopoly within each state. To open the market up to competition across state lines would mean lower premiums for consumers. We certainly can’t allow that.

GAlpha10 on October 9, 2013 at 1:57 PM

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