Dare I say it? The brouhaha with the Affordable Care Act website once more overshadowed other IT-related obstructions, complications and malfunctions reported in last week’s news.
During last week’s news cycle, we learned a great many disturbing things. Among them: only a total of 106 185 people were able to sign up for ACA health insurance through October (27 794 of this total via the federal website); IT success is now defined as 4 out of 5 (in the best case) people being able to sign up for health insurance through the federal ACA website; confidence that the federal ACA website will be working by 30 November as promised is dwindling; the main Federal ACA contractor, CGI, has a less than exemplary record on government IT projects; and the unsurprising revelation that everyone involved with the federal ACA website development knew it was in deep trouble long ago, but no one had the guts to come out and forthrightly say so. And, of course, there was President Obama calling a press conference to apologize for the federal ACA website problems, and offer a temporary reprieve for those who saw their health insurance cancelled because it didn’t meet minimum ACA standards. Obama, who insisted that if only someone had told him that the website was so terrible, he wouldn’t have gone forward with its rollout, may be ginning up IT headaches for health insurers with the administrative changes related to the Affordable Care Act that he announced. We also learned that several states, including Oregon and New York, are reporting problems with their health insurance exchanges. Finally, over $4 billion is estimated to have been spent so far implementing the state health insurance exchanges, while the Federal effort accounts for at least $350 million at last count. Multiply this total amount by three or more to get the estimated IT maintenance cost over the next 15 or so years.
Yet, while the ACA ruckus was going on, several other IT-related inconveniences were reported. For example, Pennsylvania home care workers saw their paychecks delayed or lost for months because Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare mismanaged an IT program consolidation. There was news that Verizon has agreed to pay $60 million for botching New York City’s Emergency 911 system implementation, and disclosure of plans by major stock exchanges to try to reduce the IT outages that have been striking with increasing regularity over the past few years.
Verizon Agrees to $60 Million Settlement over Emergency 911 System Problems
Stock Exchanges Outline Plans to Stem Future Problems
Pennsylvania State Auditor Slams Department of Public Welfare for Payroll Mismanagement
Of Other Interest …
Photo: Getty Images
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.