Healthcare.gov: 47 Different Contractors Built The Site?

I don’t hold it against the contractors that they had prior government experience. I don’t hold it against them that they lobby or contribute to campaigns.

To me, the scandal is that there are 47 different organizations involved in building the site. I cannot imagine that any sane project executive would want it that way. I am just guessing, but it seems more likely to me that this many contractors were imposed on the project executive because there was a requirement to “spread the work out” to keep all these companies in the politicians’ pockets.

In any case, if you are trying to fix something that was assembled by 47 different organizations….good luck with that.

Remember this story any time you think government actors (at any level!) are somehow immune to bad management practices and skewed incentives. They are no smarter, and in aggregate often dumber, than non-government actors. Via Pinpoint the Scandal | askblog.

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19 thoughts on “Healthcare.gov: 47 Different Contractors Built The Site?”

  1. Turf wars are a big problem, even with two or three organizations. At 47, I highly doubt that they even got to the point of putting pieces together.

    All organizations should get their projects audited by external experts to avoid this kind of failure, especially in the government, where it’s really easy to get away with a 10-year timeline and a billion in budget. We have similar failures in Quebec and Canada.

  2. “to keep all these companies in the politicians’ pockets.”

    I think you have that backward. Which is also the problem.

    I’ve worked on projects with as many as 6 different vendors. It doesn’t end well even then. 47 is guaranteed failure.

    Fred Brooks said 30 years ago that you need a clear top-down vision for large-scale projects, from one or two people. This is a case study in why that’s still true.

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