What’s a few hundred million dollars between friends?

posted at 6:01 pm on December 5, 2013 by Jeff Dunetz

Different media outlets have pegged the cost to build the cost to build ill-fated Obamacare exchange website at anywhere from $350 to $618 million. According to two tech experts who appeared on Sean Hannity ‘s Fox News program on Wednesday the price should have been more like $5-10 million. Most of the discussion centered on the lack of security on Healthcare.gov, but as Hannity was ending the segment he asked the two experts, David Kennedy, president of database security firm TrustedSec and Luke Chung, president and founder of the software firm FMS

“If you would have been hired to build this site, how much could you build it for and how much better could it be?” Kennedy answered; “I would say to build a site like this with the infrastructure, the architecture around it, you are looking at maybe $5 million to $10 million at a very maximum rate.”

Hannity referring to the Congressional testimony of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Henry Chao that as much as 40 percent of the site had yet to be even built, asked:

Totally secure and it would work, functional start to finish. You wouldn’t still need to build 40% of the website? Kennedy responded, “Basically functional. You do proper testing. This isn’t rocket science. Web application development is a proven science. Companies do it all the time. Luke Chung agreed: “I would agree with Mr. Kennedy in the $5 million-$10 million range max.” and added, “None of these contractors are ever held accountable for delivering such crap.”

Much of the discourse about the Obamacare failed introduction center around the inability of the federal government to successfully create a project such as Heathcare.gov that actually works. These two experts with a combined a combined forty years of experience in the field, and working with major corporations and the federal government, have pointed to a different issue with Obamacare and other federal government projects, cost control.

In the end the federal bureaucracy’s attitude will always be, “what’s a couple of hundred million dollars between friends?”

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Yupt.

nukemhill on December 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Isn’t this the most amazing ongoing crack-up you ever heard of? In the history of the species maybe. Next to the phrase “massive screw up” in the Encyclopedia, you might in the future simply see “ObamaCare” and everyone will get it immediately.

MTF on December 5, 2013 at 6:07 PM

And the website is the absolute least of the problems in the Obamacare mega disaster… It is like a small floating piece of ice compared to the actual Obamacare law which is the massive iceberg…

mnjg on December 5, 2013 at 6:07 PM

$600 million and counting with supposedly about half not even done.

Lucky that Dog Eater and Frau Syphilis were on top of this scheme from the beginning or the cost might be triple this amount. We should be thanking them for saving the taxpayers $1.2 billion.

Bishop on December 5, 2013 at 6:09 PM

A glitch here, a glitch there, and pretty soon you’re talking real glitches.

Christien on December 5, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Why is there a mouse cursor over the temple of the guy on the right?

Pretty unskilled screenshot.

Murphy9 on December 5, 2013 at 6:14 PM

A glitch here, a glitch there, and pretty soon you’re talking real glitches.

Christien on December 5, 2013 at 6:13 PM

It’s not a glitch-clitch.

Murphy9 on December 5, 2013 at 6:15 PM

If memory serves, once one adds the state-run exchanges into the bill, it’s somewhere north of $2 billion.

Oh yeah – the federal small-business exchange won’t be running until roughly this time next year.

Steve Eggleston on December 5, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Murphy9 on December 5, 2013 at 6:14 PM

It’s an NSA drone moth.

Ted Torgerson on December 5, 2013 at 6:19 PM

My problem isn’t that the government can’t be trusted to build a website; it’s that the government can’t even be trusted to build a website.

Count dHaricots on December 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Milton Friedman put it so simply:

T

here are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government.

Yup. No one’s been fired over this fiasco (other than an insurance official in DC who criticized Obama’s proposal), so how much do they REALLY care about all of the money they wasted? Not THEIR money of course, but OUR money. And how much do they really care about what a shoddy product they’ve created? They care only to extent that it harms they’re political fortunes but for that problem their solution is try to improve their political spin.

And these bozos are the de facto rulers of the U.S. Health Care system. Good Lord.

PackerBronco on December 5, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Yup, that’s what happens with no-bid government contracts. (Yet another promise Obama broke. So what’s new?)

Socratease on December 5, 2013 at 6:35 PM

I heard on TV this morning (“Fox & Friends”) that IBM offered to build the site for free and the administration refused. Adds to the speculation that some folks were paid massive amounts of money just for being friends of the administration without any consequences for non-acceptable performance.

polarglen on December 5, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get.

And I’m also likely to see if I can get some kickbacks, or some bribes, or some political contributions, or other tangible benefit out of the process.

Socratease on December 5, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Well, just because they spent $600 million(6000% mark up) on this website doesn’t mean they won’t hold down your health care costs and everything is super.

All hail Government efficiency and accountability!!

$2,500 Savings and Beyond!!!!!

BigWyo on December 5, 2013 at 6:42 PM

I was actually expecting them to get the website right. This should have been a clue to everyone:

Now, once we got to Washington, instead of an operation humming with the latest technology, I had to fight really hard just to keep my BlackBerry
Barry O

tommer74 on December 5, 2013 at 6:44 PM

The failure to launch is but the tip of the iceburg.

What needs to be looked at is who got paid what by whom…and how many of them were bundlers, contributors or simply friends of the Obama’s?

Welcome to Emperor Bokassa land…where graft is the name of the game, and single-man rule is the established law.

Then there are the myriad legalities that have been tossed aside, or simply ignored, or worse, purposefully ignored.

Sign up today for health care under the Obamacare rubric and it may takes months until the “insurer” is actually fully onboard, the insured is actually covered under law, and then there is the little problem of what may be or may not be covered…by the “insurer”…if doing so runs contrary to established insurance law.

Obama saying you are covered ain’t gonna cut it when it comes time to pay.

That is not how the simple legalities of insurance work.

But, so long as Obama and the Obamatrons believe this, makes it so, right?

Hang the law…let’s do it because we say so.

Wait until that becomes the new norm around here.

Contracts? Meaningless paper once a precedent has been set.

A worthless website is the least of the problems we face.

coldwarrior on December 5, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Yes and no. 10 million dollars gets you 100 guys making $100,000 per year for just one year. Then there’s complexity of federal regulations that in normal circumstances will add 10 – 15%. But OboobiCare is such a cluster ogre 10s of thousands of pages that need to be mapped and rules created that defy standard business logic. So let’s be generous and say that it triples the cost and due to moving goals and ever changing rules you need 3 years or so to lock it down. So now it’s about 100 million. However, we’ve blown well north of 600 million. If it’s true that it’s more like two billion, we now know why Oboobi had 3000% on the brain. We weren’t going to save that much, we’re paying that as a premium to his friends and the connected over fair market prices. BOHICA.

AH_C on December 5, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Yup, that’s what happens with no-bid government contracts. (Yet another promise Obama broke. So what’s new?)

Socratease on December 5, 2013 at 6:35 PM

We need to change the terminology here..LIED ABOUT.

BigWyo on December 5, 2013 at 6:55 PM

As I love to say when being called in to replace faulty IT systems…

“Wow. You should have come to me first. I could have built something that didn’t work for a LOT less than that!”

It usually gets a chuckle, followed by a mournful look.

JohnD13 on December 5, 2013 at 7:02 PM

At that level, a $100MM isn’t even a rounding error.

Another Drew on December 5, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Were these funds appropriated? Additional expenditures continue. Has Congress authorized this new money?

Mason on December 5, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Were these funds appropriated? Additional expenditures continue. Has Congress authorized this new money?

Mason on December 5, 2013 at 7:07 PM

I remember Congress, they used to control the funding for things, right? Those were good times, man, good good times.

Bishop on December 5, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Well sh!t! Why don’t they just shut it down and let these two guys build a new one? Sure would be cheaper!

Vince on December 5, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Well truth be told… the Healthcare.gov website REALLY ONLY DID cost $5-10 million dollars. The other $620 million got funneled into the campaign coffers of Democrat politicians up for re-election.

Mahdi on December 5, 2013 at 7:28 PM

…Contracts? Meaningless paper once a precedent has been set.

A worthless website is the least of the problems we face.

coldwarrior on December 5, 2013 at 6:52 PM
</blockquote Well said CW.

JusDreamin on December 5, 2013 at 7:52 PM

“what’s a couple of hundred million dollars between friends?”

HEY! You’re talking about Michele’s friend here! Watch it!

GarandFan on December 5, 2013 at 8:04 PM

The money paid for this website was pay-back money for the election. All you need is to look at those who were contracted to build this clusterfark and what they did to get the guy elected.

I have never heard of a web application costing more than $20 million total to be built and improved.

So taxpayer funds were used as “thank you” dollars for these campaign folks. Does anyone really think they cared about this application actually doing anything.

I say we get our money back. Anything short of that is theft.

goflyers on December 5, 2013 at 8:34 PM

I remember Congress, they used to control the funding for things, right? Those were good times, man, good good times.

Bishop on December 5, 2013 at 7:11 PM

I remember when Congressed used to pass laws, but now why bother passing laws? Instead let the bureaucracy passed regulations; just as effective and no messing about with legislators who have their own ideas about running things. And if you don’t like the regulation, you can suspend it or apply only to your “enemies”.

PackerBronco on December 5, 2013 at 8:53 PM

I read a message on a tech-jobs message board type website today from a guy who claims to have worked for the company that built the Healthcare.gov website. He was asking if he should remove the six-month stretch he worked for the company, but not on the ObamaCare website itself, for fear of the stigma it will bear on him while looking for a new job. The stigma of being associated with the very public failure of what would normally be a typical web startup that a team of four guys can build in under 12 months.

You can figure out why he is currently looking to work for a different company rather easily…

This turd sandwich sans-bread will be affecting many more people than we could have imagine for many years to come. Aren’t you all glad you voted for this monstrosity (by voting for Senate incumbents, for Obama or against Romney)?

Let it burn.

Neo on December 5, 2013 at 10:06 PM

A crucial step in government contracting is determining an Initial Government Cost Estimate (IGCE), for the project in question. The IGCE is a reasonable estimate of what a project should cost. (My experience: During my recent deployment to Afghanistan, I did a lot of contracting for development projects. These were building projects – not IT projects – but you still have to abide by contracting law.)

Congress needs to take a look at the contracting paperwork. Doing a sole-source contract for 10-20% greater than a reasonable IGCE should raise more than a few red flags. Signing a sole-source contract for 10 to 20 TIMES a reasonable IGCE means that someone threw federal contracting law out the window. The penalty for serious violations of contracting law can involve jail time.

SubmarineDoc on December 5, 2013 at 11:22 PM

Forget About the Price Tag

David Blue on December 6, 2013 at 1:48 AM

JohnD13 on December 5, 2013 at 7:02 PM

I know next to nothing about programming, but I could have delivered about 60% of a non-working program for a lot less than that. I would have lived really well for 3 1/2 years, squirreled away a few mil for lawyers to fight my extradition, and lived the high life in some warmer climate than the U.S. Midwest. At my age, I’d be beyond prosecuting when they finally did get me.

I do have a question, though. Has anybody from the press even bothered to ask how much this “Tech Surge” and these various “Fixes” are costing? But then again, “What’s a few hundred million dollars between friends?”

yesiamapirate on December 6, 2013 at 11:15 AM