Thursday, October 24, 2013

Episode 133, Obamacare as a Technology Disaster

I call it OTIS--Obamacare Technology Information System. As an IT project, OTIS is a failure.

Large software projects often fail. They commonly wind up way over budget, way behind schedule, and well short of functionality goals. Many end up abandoned entirely.

That's the history of computer programming, going back to the earliest days. Surprisingly, things haven't improved that much over time. Even today you will find failed efforts that in hindsight should never have been attempted, at least under the circumstances.

Obamacare as a technology effort will write another chapter in the history of failed software projects. With interfaces to large, complex, and poorly understood government systems, OTIS is much more than a website. OTIS is a major system layered atop multiple other systems. The goals for OTIS were overly ambitious, the timeline ridiculously tight, and the leadership lousy at all levels. We know this, because that's always the case when something as big and messy as OTIS crashes.

If you've ever been a programmer on a large project, you can imagine what it was like for the OTIS project team. They were on a death march. Everyone working heads down, writing code, testing code, logging errors--watching the list of problems grow as the go-live deadline loomed. And on the fateful day, holding their collective breaths, watching it all collapse.

- - - - - - - - -


  1. Thanks for another great podcast. Now that I have an inkling regarding the problems of implementing Obamacare, I can sit back and enjoy the failure.

    It will be interesting to watch this authoritarian regime's scapegoating.

  2. Interesting indeed, Mike. It's apparently our fault for not supporting the ideas behind Obamacare, not supporting the phony legislative process that made it "the law of the land", and not supporting the subsequent fascist overrides.