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Fix What Someone Else Broke

January 10, 2014

Not that I’m surprised, but I see that the feds are cutting CGI Federal loose from any further “help” on the healthcare exchange. From the Post:

Federal health officials are preparing to sign a 12-month contract worth roughly $90 million, probably early next week, with a different company, Accenture, after concluding that CGI has not been effective enough in fixing the intricate computer system underpinning the federal Web site,, the individual said.

Accenture, which is one of the world’s largest consulting firms, has extensive experience with computer systems on the state level, and it built California’s new health insurance exchange. But it has not done substantial work on any federal health-care program.

As Ed Morrissey says:

In other words, it’s not fixed, and the people who brought us the big faceplant can’t handle the job at all. Instead, the administration will hire Accenture, a firm that has not done any work on a federal health-care system, to fix CGI Federal’s mess. And they will get paid $90 million to do so, which will boost the overall cost of the failing portal even more.

I’ve had a hand in some industry software development exercises, and I’ve seen some very big projects go horribly wrong.  One thing you don’t usually do is can the whole team and have someone else come in and unstring the spaghetti.  While I’m sure there are some fed architects still in the mix, a lot of knowledge just got pushed out.  Now, likely, Accenture will sub some things back to CGI, and/or Accenture will actually hire the CGI people that just got cut loose.  It’s really a management shift.

But if it’s not… ouch.  You can count on the fed site costing us a couple hundred million more before all is said and done.  Stay tuned for the ride, and keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle.  Lord knows, you don’t want to go to a hospital.

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