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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Opinion-Technical issues delay insurance sign-up

Illustration by Alex Bihm/The Collegian
Illustration by Alex Bihm/The Collegian

As millions of Americans logged into the HealthCare.gov website during its debut, users encountered multiple problems that made the site all but impossible to navigate.

Reports began trickling in regarding outages and error messages, and opponents quickly attributed these issues to the controversial Affordable Care Act itself.

As the faults of the site are debated in Congress, a lot of finger-pointing occurs between the Department of Health and Human Services and the contractors about who to blame for the problems that have plagued the site.

A large portion of the blame is falling on the shoulders of Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary. Sebelius is in charge of the roll-out for this program and, ultimately, accountable for any problems. However, the real issue lies with the way technology contractors are chosen and how they handle projects.

While Sebelius has said she is ultimately at fault for any problems with the site, it should be noted that no technology project enters the marketplace without problems, as gamers of the world can attest.

Technology contracts handed out to the lowest bidder, while cheaper in the short run, are not the best solution for long-term effectiveness.

A Washington Post investigation found that CGI Federal, the main contractor for the site, had a history of missed deadlines in its project for the Canadian health care diabetes registration website.

When a company or government agency begins setting up contracts for a technology project, pieces are awarded to different companies.

These companies rarely speak with one another. This lack of communication will cause problems as each contractor is unaware how its piece of the puzzle will interact with the whole.

Included in these contracts are specific timetables for release with severe penalties for missed deadlines. This rush to complete a project on time inevitably causes contractors to cut corners and lay blame on the overseeing organization for any unexpected issues.

As of Oct. 29, HHS says the site is processing 17,000 registrants per hour, which is no small feat. It expects the site to function at full capacity by the end of November.

In the short term, the damage has already been done. These problems are indicative of the issues opponents see with the act itself.

How these problems and Americans’ response to them affect the act in the long term remains to be seen.

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