Healthcare.gov's availability and usability is in the new since Oct 1 launch.
Slate.com has a post on what is behind the problems.
They are finding Oracle DB errors.
“Error from: https%3A//www.healthcare.gov/oberr.cgi%3Fstatus%253D500%2520errmsg%253DErrEngineDown%23signUpStepOne.”
To translate, that’s an Oracle database complaining that it can’t do a signup because its “engine” server is down. So you can see Web pages with text and pictures, but the actual meat-and-potatoes account signup “engine” of the site was offline.
And who the contractors are for the client web front end and the back-end.
This failure points to the fundamental cause of the larger failure, which is the end-to-end process. That is, the front-end static website and the back-end servers (and possibly some dynamic components of the Web pages) were developed by two different contractors. Coordination between them appears to have been nonexistent, or else front-end architect Development Seed never would have given this interviewto the Atlantic a few months back, in which they embrace open-source and envision a new world of government agencies sharing code with one another. (It didn’t work out, apparently.) Development Seed now seems to be struggling to distance themselves from the site’s problems, having realized that however good their work was, the site will be judged in its totality, not piecemeal. Back-end developers CGI Federal, who were awarded a much larger contract in 2010 for federal health care tech, have made themselves rather scarce, providing no spokespeople at all to reporters. Their source code isn’t available anywhere, though I would dearly love to take a gander (and so would Reddit). I fear the worst, given that CGI is also being accused of screwing up Vermont’s health care website.
Part of the reason why this post makes sense and is researched well is it written by a SW developer.
The closing remarks are proof the author knows what he is talking about.
Bugs can be fixed. Systems can even be rearchitected remarkably quickly. So nothing currently the matter with healthcare.gov is fatal. But the ability to fix it will be affected by organizational and communication structures. People are no doubt scrambling to get healthcare.gov into some semblance of working condition; the fastest way would be to appoint a person with impeccable engineering and site delivery credentials to a government position. Give this person wide authority to assign work and reshuffle people across the entire project and all contractors, and keep his schedule clean. If you found the right person—often called the “schedule asshole” on large software projects—things will come together quickly. Sufficient public pressure will result in things getting fixed, but the underlying problems will most likely remain, due to the ossified corporatist structure of governmental contracts.