December 2, 2013 by gregrabidoux2013
Superpower checklist: Mighty Military, check. Super-wealthy 1%, 99% living paycheck to paycheck, yep, check. GDP in the trillions, check. Deficit and debt in the trillions, sadly, check. Admiration and envy of other not-so superpower nations around the globe. Mostly, check.
Ability to make one, as in a single, well-functioning national healthcare website accessible to citizens of aforementioned superpower? Check minus.
Really? The descendants of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, heck, even James Polk (underrated former president, honestly) can’t tame the mystery that is the internet long enough to create a fully functioning and fully secure website for all the world to see? And more importantly, those choosing to participate in national healthcare options to actually use? Steven Jobs must be giving this all a real big thumbs-down from above.
I turned away from this ongoing sad soap opera of a website tragedy briefly (so I could see Auburn stun Alabama in the “Iron Bowl”) and it appears that early reports of the website being “fixed” were premature. Now, the latest is that the website is working “most of the time” and close to hitting its stated goal of servicing 50,000 users at once and about 800,000 over the course of 24 hours without “too many” glitches. And Democrat Representative Chris Van Hollen (R-MD) chimes in to reassure us that progress has been made but it will be awhile before it’s “up and kicking in full gear.”
Well, that’s a relief. This “build” has only been trying to kick into gear since as far back as May of 2010.
But according to folks like US Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) the site still has major security issues safeguarding user and applicant private healthcare data, medical records and vital personal information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, financial records and income history that the site “does not meet even the minimal security standards of the private sector.”
Look, I am not sure exactly what the minimal security standards of private sector websites are but I think we all have a right to expect that the Obamacare website can perform at least as well as my PayPal account does when I buy the latest offering from Lady Gaga (she wouldn’t tolerate any delays with her fan website I tell you that).
But beyond the actual technical failings of this website build and beyond the predictable partisan attacks and spin each side is engaged in (it’s the worst thing ever versus it’s a real complex process let’s not point fingers) there is something even more troubling about this whole debacle. And that’s a not so little thing called credibility and its cousin, accountability. Okay, two things.
I have heard far too many leading Democrats and Obama Administration insiders talk of everything but credibility while dismissing it as something to address. If, our government cannot even manage and oversee a single website build, regardless of the complexity of the task the basic credibility of our government as a competent and trustworthy entity takes a direct hit. Again. Are you getting all of this transcribed and de-coded, NSA?
And while I get that Secretary Sebelius is not an IT wizard, she is in charge and she either fell asleep at the wheel or allowed others to navigate the HHS ship into choppy waters. Her team let her down, she let her boss the president down and they collectively let us all down.
And other than “Team Obamacare Website Build” having to face politicians posturing for the cameras at televised congressional hearings I haven’t seen much of a shake-up from SOP in the EOP.
Sometime a forceful point needs to be made and a message needs to be sent about how much competence and meeting deadlines is valued and its opposite is not.
And while the good folks manning the GOP have every right to voice their frustration and incredulity it would be nice if just once they at least looked like they had more than just partisan bloodletting on their agenda. On the other hand if you knew your political enemies continued to do everything in their power to, as Van Hollen put it, “sabotage” the Affordable Care Act, which is indeed a law now folks, wouldn’t you be doubly, even triply careful to make the darn website a stunning success?
The biggest take-away from this fiasco? Too many adults in charge and not enough kids. Next time, find those same kids who are programming your VCR, downloading apps to your Droid and playing online games with flawless dexterity and let them bid on the chance to build a hack-free, fully functioning website. At least they’d be brutally honest about if and when the thing would be ready to launch. And you’d never again miss another episode of NCIS. Now there’s a government agency that operates well.
May we all enjoy great health in the coming year. Cuz the alternative just got scarier.