Sad that $300 mil spent on Obamacare creates no innovation, the benefits of a risk-less approach

One of the sad things about the $300 mil spent on Obamacare is there is no innovation that comes from the effort.  NASA’s mission to put a man on the moon had huge risks and has many innovations it can claim.  Here is a NASA pdf you can check out.


From a technical standpoint there isn’t anything Obamacare is doing that is innovative.  In fact, you can think of what is the flaw of Obamacare is living in the 60’s with a procurement process for buying commodities applied to IT.

That cancer is called “procurement” and it’s primarily a culture driven cancer one that tries to mitigate so much risk that it all but ensures it. It’s one that allowed for only a handful of companies like CGI Federal to not only build disasters like this, but to keep building more and more failures without any accountability to the ultimate client: us. Take a look at CGI’s website, and the industries they serve: financial services, oil and gas, public utilities, insurance. Have you had a positive user experience in any of those industries?

The cancer starts with fear. Contracting officers — people inside of the government in charge of selecting who gets to do what work — are afraid of their buys being contested by people who didn’t get selected. They’re also afraid of things going wrong down the line inside of a procurement, so they select vendors with a lot of “federal experience” to do the work. Over time, those vendors have been consolidated into pre-approved lists like GSA’s Alliant schedule. Then, for risk mitigation’s sake, they end up being the only ones allowed to compete for bids.

This results in a culturally accepted idea that cost implies quality. To ensure no disasters happen, throw lots of money at it. And when things go terribly wrong, throw more money at the same people who caused the problem to fix the problem. While this assumption may work well with commodities (want to ensure that you get lots of high-quality gravel? Buy a lot more gravel than you need, then throw out the bad gravel) the evidence points to the contrary with large IT purchases: they usually fail.