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Tech industry leaders dissect botched Healthcare.gov launch

Kenneth Corbin | Nov. 20, 2013
Senior technology industry executives from Adobe, VMware and others diagnose the problems in troubled Healthcare.gov, citing the ambitious scope of the project and endemic flaws in broader government contracting apparatus.

"The project management method that works is in many ways dependent on the scope and the size and the severity and the constraints of the challenge at hand," Bourgeois said

Forman cautioned not to view the problems with the healthcare site as a perfect microcosm of the federal procurement system, pointing to other shortfalls in the government's work with vendors, including contract administration and the process of managing vendors after the contract has been awarded.

In that system he said he sees a blighted culture where purchasing decisions are too heavily guided by cost considerations, and program managers are often dogmatic in their demands from vendors.

As a consequence, suppliers can be compelled to meet an unreasonable time table for deliverables or build systems to the specifications of the agency, even if they realize that modifications to the design would produce a superior product.

"There's a big focus today in government procurement on lowest price, technically acceptable. It's created a cancer in the government IT industry," Forman said. "We have a very screwed up incentive structure right now in government contracting, and it's not benefiting anybody."

 

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