AShaky Start for Healthcare.Gov
WhileHealthcare.gov had a high risk of failure owing to its complexity,Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) committed manymistakes throughout implementation that resulted in the poor launch.CMS failed to appoint clear leadership to oversee the process. Italso failed to assess tasks needed to ascertain how to integratemarketplace within CMS best. CMS had no clear leadership to overseethe implementation of the Healthcare.gov, facilitate quick decisionmaking, clarify project tasks, as well as to identify problems(Goldstein, 2013). Furthermore, employees of CMS failed to supervisethe contractors developing the website and prioritize project tasksto ensure success. Lack of leadership led to delays in makingimportant decisions, detecting problems, clarifying projects. Theambiguous and diffuse management failed to hold contractors and CMSaccountable and allowed decisions to be made by various agencies.Supervisors in the top-down chain were also resistant to break badnews of the problems they faced to the boss by allowing the processto go on (Nguyen Van, 2016). Communication breakdown hamperedcommunication among various agencies involved. They rarelycommunicated with one another. Furthermore, the deadline set forcompleting the software and launch the exchange was unrealistic.
Anotherobstacle involved is the organizational structure of CMS, whichhampered progress. Poor coordination among various agencies left manystakeholders unaware of who is responsible for what. Supervisors ofCMS ignored problems they faced and to communicate bad news to thehigher authority for correction and reorganization (OIG. 2016).
Strictdeadline made it impractical to achieve full functionality. CMSdevoted a lot of time in developing policy left by developers withlittle time to complete the project. While Healthcare.gov launch wason schedule, visitors immediately faced technical problems of hugemagnitudes. Issues with system and software design made the usersview the system more negatively.
Therewas also the problem with the design of the system. It required usersto open individual accounts prior to starting shopping for insurancecoverage. This complex registration involved inputting personal data.
TheObama’s administration should rework new regulations and rules forHealthCare.gov to quell the outpouring discontent among Americans. The administration must learn lessons from the disastrousHealthCare.gov and change regulations accordingly. It is evident thatthe lack of IT expertise and outdated procurement rules shared theblame for the disastrous HealthCare launch (Fabian, 2015). Thedevelopment of the project delayed to kick off because thepolicymakers had to make rules, specify the software requirement andmeet procurement threshold rules. Despite the fact that the contractwas given in 2011, the administration delayed in givingspecifications causing the contractors to write the software codelate in 2013. Reliance on policymakers to develop business processesand regulations introduced bottlenecks for business analysis,requirement gathering and development. Therefore, the development ofthe site began too late, paving way for too many risks. It also leftvery little time for adjustments and testing.
TheObama’s administration should adopt new procurement rules andrecruit IT expertise from twitter and Google to improve its techsurge. The American digital team is able to recruit and hire abaseline of talent to offer a tech surge.
Asfor the protection of personal information, the administration needsto upgrade its technology, change culture and administrative habits.CMS would have avoided the failure in the first launch if itsofficials had expertise to oversee the project process. To beginwith, the strict deadline of October 1 was unrealistic given thecomplexity of the project. The go-live date was determined in advancebefore the development of project plan. Mega IT projects such asHealthCare.gov require adequate time to test the site and software.
Therequirement that users should first create accounts to be able toaccess was unnecessary. The requirement that users must create theirspecific accounts first and provide personal information to be ableto access existing healthcare plans in their locality should be doneaway with. It not only caused traffic jam due to lack of enoughcomputing capacity, but also caused cryptic error messages,difficulty logging in and delivered inaccurate quotes to consumers.The users should have been permitted to access health plans withouthaving to first complete the registration process.
CMSwas ill-prepared to oversee the development of the project yet theObama’s administration trusted the agency to handle the project.The development of the Healthcare.gov website failed because CMS didnot adhere to effective oversight and planning practices. In mega ITprojects like Healthcare.gov, technological expertise on the part ofauthority is important. Having experts in charge of the whole processwill ensure planning practices and procedures are strictly followed.
Lackof planned process led to evolving priorities, as well as multipledefinitions of success (OIG, 2016). This compelled contractors tokeep changing direction regularly, wasting money and time. Poorcommunication allowed vital information to pass over relevantstakeholders. This problem is attributed to lack of leadership, whichled to delayed decision making. Though Center for Medicare andMedicaid Services took the role of coordinating, the developmentefforts, and its management structure was doomed to fail for itsdisorganization. Top-down Communication was poor. Furthermore, therewas the lack of communication among the various involved agencies.
Goldstein,A. (2013). HHS failed to heed many warnings that HealthCare.gov wasin trouble. TheWashington Post.
Fabian,J. (2015). Obama: HealthCare.gov `a well-documented disaster. TheHill.Retrieved on November 10, 2016http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/245128-obama-healthcaregov-a-well-documented-disaster`
NguyenVan, T. (2016). MIS 2016 – Case Study 42 – A Shaky Start forHealthcare.Gov. Topten. Retrieved on November 10, 2016 fromhttp://topten.edu.vn/mba-cases/54-mba-management-information-systems/863-mis-2016-case-study-42-a-shaky-start-for-healthcare-gov
Officeof Inspector General. (2016) CMS management of the FederalMarketplace: a case study. Retrieved on November 10, 2016 fromHealthCare.gov.https://www.actiac.org/system/files/oei-06-14-00350.pdf