Learning From Healthcare.gov: 4 Lessons In Choosing A IT Vendor

Rob Enderie | CIO.com | November 27, 2013

The vendor chosen in a no-bid process to build Healthcare.gov was fired from a similar project after missing deadlines and suffering security lapses for three years. Such obvious mistakes are unfortunately all too common in the private and public sector. Here are four simple ways to make sure you choose the right vendor for your IT project.

What I find most fascinating about the failure of Healthcare.gov is that both sides appear to be testing the limits of how you can spin an event. The right is solidly on message comparing Obamacare to slavery, while the left argues that Obamacare is more than the disastrous website.

The first argument is just insane, but the second overlooks the reality that the front end of any system creates the impression of that system. If it doesn't work, then the system doesn't work for anyone using that front end, either. Put another way: It doesn't really matter how good something is if you can't actually get it to function.

Healthcare.gov was such a big disaster because the Affordable Care Act is President Barack Obama's signature piece of legislation, and it's been on constant death watch since being signed into law. Having the website blow up has a good chance of eventually ending the vendor, CGI, which did most of the work, not to mention the government careers of anyone with anything to do with a project so important that getting it right was a requirement, not an option.