Behind every software product that comes to market are software developers. But there also budgets set at the highest levels of management. And marching orders that trickle down the management ranks in corporate Morse code. NPR reports that budget and politics, not programming, set the stage for Healthcare.gov's problems.
A growing number of reports focus on the extraordinary complexity of Healthcare.gov, and the inability of a relatively small inhouse government agency staff to manage it. Yet that's what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid tried to do. Why?
Jay Angoff, who formerly ran the health exchange program for the Department of Health and Human Services. told NPR, "... those who are in charge of the money HHS needs to implement the federal exchange are dedicated to the destruction of the federal exchange, and the destruction of the Affordable Care Act."
Scraping together the funds to build the healthcare site, the federal agency may have stinted on outside contracts for making sure the system was well integrated and tested -- roles it appears to have taken upon itself.
And while it might seem that the feds had plenty of time to build and test the site, serious work couldn't begin until the Supreme Court decided whether or not the Affordable Care Act would be overturned.
The Dept. of Health and Human Services bent over backwards to get states to build their own healthcare exchanges and expand Medicaid, taking more time -- and money. In the end, most states opted for the federal exchange, creating a much bigger development challenge than expected.
The best software development managers shield their staffs from the uncertainties of corporate politics so they can focus on their jobs. In the case of Healthcare.gov, that wasn't possible. Read the story.