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'Tech Surge' to Clean Up Embarrassing Obamacare Site Launch as President Plans Remarks

In a blog post yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services admitted that the launch of the main website for the Affordable Care Act has been dismal:

HealthcareUnfortunately, the experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans.  Some have had trouble creating accounts and logging in to the site, while others have received confusing error messages, or had to wait for slow page loads or forms that failed to respond in a timely fashion. The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.gov has not lived up to the expectations of the American people. We are committed to doing better.

HHS says it plans a "tech surge" to clean up the operation:

To ensure that we make swift progress, and that the consumer experience continues to improve, our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering.

Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov.  We're also putting in place tools and processes to aggressively monitor and identify parts of HealthCare.gov where individuals are encountering errors or having difficulty using the site, so we can prioritize and fix them.  We are also defining new test processes to prevent new issues from cropping up as we improve the overall service and deploying fixes to the site during off-peak hours on a regular basis.

They're also asking for input. Go to the site for details.

President Obama plans to address the technical problems with Healthcare.gov today at an event from the Rose Garden.

Obama will be flanked at the Rose Garden event by people the White House says have already enrolled during the first three weeks of sign-ups. Enrollment figures are being closely guarded by the administration, which plans to release the first round of data in mid-November.

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Comments

  1. Well, I'm sure that the American people will be happy to hear that they're bringing in a team of experts to "scrub in" with the current team. They clearly have a fantastic communications team, so the tech part should be small potatos.

    Posted by: Paul R | Oct 21, 2013 7:55:37 AM


  2. Brook's law: Adding more personnel to a software project that's late just makes it later- nine women can't make a baby in one month.

    Posted by: Eric | Oct 21, 2013 8:05:07 AM


  3. It's still very hard for me to come to terms with the 29 million dollar price tag which that site has.

    I do websites for a living. I understand that the site is complex and handles variances for 50 different states, but still... 29 million dollars??? My highest priced site to date was a complex 144-page site and it cost $9500.00.

    To me it simply shrieks of government rape by some tech corp knowing they can get whatever they ask for. And a government that has no idea what they're buying and what the going rates for said pages are, so the vendor takes full advantage.

    Posted by: johnny | Oct 21, 2013 8:06:49 AM


  4. Well, now I know what the problem is. They used only one vendor in the bid process:

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/feds-reviewed-only-one-bid-for-obamacare-website-design/article/2537194


    And my figure was wrong, it was 93 million.

    Posted by: johnny | Oct 21, 2013 8:14:42 AM


  5. ok, so there are glitches at the startup. what website hasn't had this happen at startup? what company? Microsoft? oh, wait! Microsoft pulled the much needed update to Windows (8.1) after how many days? one? two? three?

    sh*t happens. get over it people...

    Posted by: mike/ | Oct 21, 2013 8:55:45 AM


  6. @johnny - It is not just the site itself, but the hardware infrastructure necessary to run such a site, not to mention the very high bandwidth necessary to run a very high traffic website.

    As for the price tag of $93 million, that is the total cost of implementing the Affordable Care Act: not just the website, but liaising with the states to help them set up their exchanges and preparing everything for the 35 states that decided to have the fed manage their exchanges. That is a massive undertaking and yes, costs add up.

    As for the single vendor, that is standard: firms are given a list of requirements, firms make sealed bids, all the bids are opened together, and the contract goes to the lowest bidder. That is the way pretty much every large corporate entity works, both governments and private companies.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Oct 21, 2013 9:20:35 AM


  7. And keep in mind that if the Republicans had not had their hissy fit and shut down the government, the administration could have had people fixing the problems three weeks ago.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Oct 21, 2013 9:21:33 AM


  8. Gregory, they only had ONE company bid on this project. No record shows that any other company bid on the site. There were no other sealed bids delivered.

    That was my point. What you state is the normal process, but in this case they did not follow standard protocol.

    Posted by: johnny | Oct 21, 2013 10:21:51 AM


  9. @JOHNNY Sadly, you are right. $93 million dollars to launch a website and then have it fail spectacularly doesn't bode well for making the good case for the ACA.

    Republicans are going to jump all over this. This will put Republicans right back into the game. Damn it.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Oct 21, 2013 11:31:18 AM


  10. The Government solution: throw more taxpayer money over the ridiculous 400 million dollars already spent on a website.

    Posted by: Jay | Oct 21, 2013 12:08:07 PM


  11. @Johnny they went over budget and ended up costing 400 million dollars.

    Posted by: Jay | Oct 21, 2013 12:11:53 PM


  12. Tech doesn't "surge". Good luck!

    Posted by: Randy | Oct 21, 2013 5:19:47 PM


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