What Would You Ask To Investigate the ACA Website Debacle?


Since I have so many friends who do work or have worked in the software industry, I’d like to get your opinion on what kinds of questions you would ask if you were given the task of finding out what went wrong with the development of the Affordable Care Act web site.

Let us see if we can make suggestions to the clueless Congressional Committees on what they should ask if their intent is really to improve the performance of future government efforts such as this one.

To seed the discussion, I have thought of a few questions I would ask.

  • Since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) already covers 100 million people successfully, who designs, creates, and supports the successful web sites you already have?
  • How does the creation of the ACA web site differ from the standard practices for all your other web sites?
  • How experienced in managing software contracts was the person who managed the contracts to get the ACA developed?  What was that person’s track record?
  • Apparently, the web site needed to integrate web services from web sites of many government agencies.  What authority did your contractor have over developments at those other web sites?
  • If the contractor had no authority over these other web sites, what steps did the CMS office that managed the contract take to insure successful integration?
  • Was there a plan to do integration testing as all the different parts were being developed, or did you the manager or the contract put this testing off until the end?
  • What was the risk management philosophy in the design of the web site and the letting of the contract to develop it?
  • Did the chain of management of this web site development clearly understand that there is no difference between a physical server and a cloud server?  Anything served by “the cloud” must use a physical server.

Now here is a chance to put your software management skills to use to help the government.

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Surely private industry does this better than the government.

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