Is it a black swan event?

An IT project with a cost overrun of 150% or more is in the black swan category. Such projects seriously disrupt businesses and costs some workers their careers, he said.

“You can’t really forecast which [IT projects] are going to blow up,” said Budzier, though in hindsight reasons like too tight deadlines may become clear. A tell-tale clue of problems ahead is a categorization of a project as “unique,” he said.

“If your system integrator, if your in-house IT, if everybody tells you that this project is unique, that’s a clear sign that this is going to go massively wrong,” said Budzier.

As Bruce Webster notes in email:

Of course, the natural tendency on the part of HHS & the Administration will be to minimize [as opposed to underpromise and overdeliver] the estimates of how long it’s going to take to fix things — and those estimates will almost certainly be wrong. So what we may see is the ‘Never-Ending Story’ pattern, where for several months they’re perpetually 4-6 weeks away from having working properly.

If I were in charge? I’d pull the plug completely and give no completion date at all until the website reconstruction was at a point where I felt comfortable opening it up for public alpha testing. Based on how the alpha testing went, I might announce a subsequent date for beta testing; and if that went well, then and only then would I announce a planned date to go live.

But they’ll find it politically impossible to do that. They’ve put themselves in a box with this legislative atrocity. It’s a Rubik’s cube that someone took apart and put back together to render it unsolvable and, so far, ObamaCare has caused far more people to lose their insurance than to get it.

I hope this costs more than “some workers their careers.” It should be an asteroid slamming into an ideology.

[Update while later]

More from Bruce Webster: ObamaCare and the Project of Doom:

Let me start by saying: there is no royal road to software. Good intentions, earnest efforts, and noble causes don’t count for jack. As I told John Fund over at National Review, saying (as SecHHS Kathleen Sebelius did), “We needed five years but only had two” boggles the mind. It is an admission, inadvertent or otherwise, of profoundly irrational and childish thinking, of magical thinking, if you will. “Clap! Clap to keep Tinkerbell alive!” That type of thinking.

There’s a lot of that type of thinking going on in this administration.


[Afternoon update]

Kirsten Powers isn’t in denial. The ObamaCare roll out was a disaster for “progressive” politics.


24 thoughts on “Healthcare.Gov”

  1. Was it British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan who was asked what would determine the success or ultimate course of his government, and he replied, “Events! Events!”

    In other words, history happens in real-time, and to quote the Senior Senator for Kentucky and Senate Minority Leader, you have to “go with the cards you are dealt.”

    There was this sense I got as the Global Economic Crisis developed under George W Bush and deepened under Barack Obama’s tenure as president, that either the President or his apologists were not only blaming the crisis on George W Bush, which I suppose is fair if assigning blame in this fashion is applied uniformly, but there was a sense that they were complaining about how tough this was on President Obama.

    Maybe I will get corrected (again) that President Obama did no such complaining, but Mr. Obama might not even be President if there wasn’t the start of the crisis in September 2012 with the Lehman bankruptcy and if his opponent, Captain John S McCain, USN, Retired (Captain is a pretty high Navy rank) didn’t respond to this by saying “economics is not my strong suit.”

    I shall state that the electorate selected Mr. Obama over Mr. McCain because Mr. Obama campaigned as better able to unite the country to fight the Economic Crisis? Furthermore, I believe it was the New Yorker offering this “inside scoop”, Senator Obama had a “leg up” on the pending Economic Crisis because he was schmoozing Wall Street insiders as part of running for President — to solicit their financial support and endorsements, to listen and learn “what they are about.”

    In that account, Mr. Obama got an earful about how precarious the economy was, and Mr. Obama expressed the worry to the Wall Street people regarding how he would handle this when it “blew up” out from under him during his Presidency were he to be elected. As it turns out, not only did it blow up before the election, then Senator Obama is in a good position to position himself as the person best able to fix the mess because he saw it coming, or at least he had a much better understanding of what was happening than Senator McCain.

    So as the Financial Crisis worsens after he becomes President, as such “events” tend to do because there is a tremendous momentum in the economic system, Mr. Obama complains that he had no idea what a bad situation he inherited from his predecessor? Sir, you are President because you inherited a bad situation, and the American people decided that you were the better leader to deal with just that situation.

    Is what I said factual, or will someone manage to correct this as a chain of misstatements resulting from inhabiting the Right Blogosphere bubble?

    The legacy of a leader is not how they put their policy or program into place, everything worked according to plan, and that leader takes the well-deserved credit. The legacy of a leader is how they dealt with “events”, how they deal with failure. This isn’t a Right Wing/Left Wing, Obamacare vs Expanded Health Savings Accounts, funding alternative energy vs being an unabashed “oil man”, deciding to bomb Libya not bomb Syria kind of thing.

  2. I wonder what the next strained euphemism for poor planning and inadequate supervision will be. Maybe the Rethuglicans or the climate deniers are throwing wooden shoes into the machinery.

    1. You left out teabaggers, Faux News, Rush, Hannity, Beck, the Klan, right wing nuts, Christians, Jews, and the NRA. Apparently every fringe group out there is working overtime to sabotage this thing and having remarkable success. If only all that energy could be channeled into something productive.

  3. We are often told that if we don’t like big government that we don’t like the internet or that if we don’t like socialism that we shouldn’t use the internet because it was created by the government. Sure it is a nonsense argument but the people who make arguments like this should be held to account for the failure of a government who created the internet and can’t design a website.

  4. It makes you wonder what Hillarycare would’ve looked like back during Clinton’s first term. I imagine it would’ve been written in COBOL and run on an IBM 360.

  5. re Sebelius on CNN: The most astonishing thing she said was not that they only had 2 or 3 years or whatever to do the job, but that now, after the website launch, she’s asked the contractors to bring in their A-Teams to help fix the problems! Why weren’t those A-Teams working from the start on the President’s most important website? Heckuva job, Kathleen!

  6. According to one study, 94% of big government IT projects fail in some way (41% fail completely). So is pretty much par for the course.

    1. Jim,
      I think you should stop digging: The hole Obama and Sebelius are in on this is already pretty deep…

    2. Yes, a high percentage of big government IT programs fail. You’d think they would begin to learn why they fail. The single biggest reason are poorly defined requirements. ObamaCare wasn’t a black swan event. Many of us who work in IT knew the system was going to be a mess from the minute that 2000+ page piece of legislation (with the supporting regulations reportedly totaling 8 times as many pages) was passed. A black swan event is something unpredictable. This was as predictable and predicted as the sunrise.

      1. Very much ^this^. The law was a goat fornication, which made the regulations supporting it a goat fornication. That in turn made the requirements based on those regulations a goat fornication. Which led to the design based on those requirements being a goat fornication. All of that made the implementation a goat fornication. So it’s pretty much fornicating goats all the way down.

        1. And having a development schedule dictated by the same law and political concerns didn’t help. Nor did having a company with a weak track record like CGI Federal help. Nor did not even beginning testing until two weeks before it went online help.

          Q: What do you get when you add a drop of wine to a barrel of sewage?
          A: Sewage.
          Q: What do you get when you add a drop of sewage to a barrel of wine?
          A: Sewage.

          They can try to sugar-coat this debacle all they want but there’s no way they’re going to make this crap sandwich taste sweet. Obama and the Democrats took a bad idea and made it worse. They thought their idea was so popular that they made it compulsory.

    3. According to one study, 94% of big government IT projects fail in some way (41% fail completely). So is pretty much par for the course.

      Jim, as the others say, it sounds like a good argument for greatly curtailing the extent and power of the federal government so it doesn’t have all these opportunities to fail. Where was this factoid when you were defending Obamacare earlier? Funny how you ignore evidence until you need it to defend some pet project or talking point.

  7. I seriously wonder why they didn’t get Google to develop this. I think the Google founders are Democrat contributors, they don’t really need the cash, they have an abundance of brain power in their company, there is a ton of cachet in getting this going, and Google certainly knows large scale web development.

    1. Yes, but wouldn’t letting the contract to them means that their favored insurance companies would come to the top of the listings . . .

  8. Ozymandias II

    I met a traveler from a fallen land
    Who said: A trashed and useless interface
    Sits on a website. And linked on the page,
    ne’er clicked,, a tattered image lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its artist well those passions read
    Which yet survive, displayed on the useless screen,
    The man that mocked us and the heart that bled:
    And under the picture these words appear:
    “My name is Barack Obama, President:
    Look at my prices, ye insured, and despair!”
    Nothing aside remains. From the decay
    of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The sick and desperate souls stayed far away.

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