By Katherine McIntire Peters // October 21, 2013
In explaining the administration’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama sought to put the botched website in some perspective: “We did not wage this long contentious battle just around a website,” he noted. “That’s not what this was about.”
Maybe so, but HealthCare.gov isn’t just a website. It’s the public face of this administration’s signature legislative achievement. If this is how they execute their top priorities, what's going on with lesser programs? That only 0.04 percent of visitors to the website during week one were likely able to sign up for insurance says more about the complexity of large federal technology projects (and the hubris of officials intent on rolling out the website before it was ready) than it does about the merits of the Affordable Care Act.
IT debacles are nothing new for the federal government. Agencies routinely overspend on technologies that under perform. And politicians and senior executives routinely underestimate what it takes to effectively implement big, complex, ambitious programs. What's different about HealthCare.gov is how much attention those failings have received.
"This [website] is something that has to talk to a lot of different federal ...