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Saturday, August 02, 2014

Healthcare.gov Debacle

The federal Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative agency of Congress, reports that the Healthcare.gov debacle was caused by management failures.
Just as I suspected.
The GAO finding was reported in an AP article that appeared in the July 31 issue of The Boston Globe. 
GAO was quoted as stating that the managers responsible for the project lacked “effective planning or oversight practices” for the development of the web page.  It found that “the administration kept changing the contractors’ marching orders….creating widespread confusion” and that “changes were ordered in seemingly arbitrary fashion, including 40 times when government officials did not have the initial authority to incur additional costs.”
Failure of large information technology projects is common in both the public and private sectors.  The main reason, in my opinion, is that managers have the mistaken notion that computer projects can only be understood by computer experts.  They therefore neglect to decide and declare in specific terms what the project is intended to do and how it is to operate.  Then as the project proceeds and they learn how the final product will function, they order changes that disrupt and confuse the planning process – decisions that should have been made before planning started.
Project management remains a large blind spot in the field of administration.  Let us hope that the Healthcare.gov debacle becomes a learning experience.

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