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Diagnosing the Online Health Exchange Debacle: "Proprietary" Software Needs a Dose of Open Source

Amy Goddman and Juan Gonzalez | Democracy Now | October 25, 2013

As the problem-plagued roll-out of President Obama’s signature healthcare policy undergoes congressional scrutiny for the first time, we speak with Clay Johnson, a former Obama campaign innovation expert who founded Blue State Digital, the company that built Obama’s 2008 website. During a House panel on Thursday, lawmakers questioned executives of two of the lead contractors behind the website, healthcare.gov — CGI Federal and Quality Software Systems Incorporated — about the myriad of glitches and defects. Johnson says the new website is built with outdated and proprietary software. "When the government is building software like this, it ought to be built out in the open — built with a licensing system called open source so that the public truly owns it," Johnson says. He notes that "In 1996, Congress lobotomized itself by getting rid of its technology think tank called the Technology Assessment Office. So they’re writing bills where they don’t understand the technology required in their laws."

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