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Tech Surge Aims To Fix What Ails HealthCare.gov Site

Tech Surge Aims To Fix What Ails HealthCare.gov Site
By Nancy Owano

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After a month of haunting outages and outrage from disgruntled former supporters, the folks at HealthCare.gov -- the so-called Obamacare website -- are in need of a quick and serious fix. Oracle chief Larry Ellison said his company is pitching in to help fix what ails the government's health care Web site, shooting for improvement by November's end.
 



Is every day Halloween? That is what the team members of HealthCare.gov, the federal insurance Web site, might have asked last month as the site's October 1 debut enabling a historic health system overhaul and insurance signup turned into weeks of haunting outages and outrage from dismayed and disgruntled former supporters.

The confidence of many affordable plan seekers who had championed Obamacare as a great idea was shaken. Those trying to sign up in the first week experienced outages and long waits and many gave up trying to register.

The government has responded with a firm commitment that when the going gets rough they can really get going. They are determined to get this right. Now more details are emerging about the “tech surge” for HealthCare.gov announced on October 22 that is designed to usher in the fixes.

The news is that a smart cadre of engineers and programmers from tech companies have jumped on board to help fix technical issues troubling HealthCare.gov. Google, Red Hat and Oracle are among those companies.

Two Names on Board

Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, provided more details about the surge in a blog post on the HHS (Health and Human Services) Web site on Thursday:

“As part of the 'Tech Surge,' we’ve added key personnel from the government and private sector, including expert engineers and technology managers," she said. "These dozens of people are strengthening and reinforcing the team we have working 24/7 to address the problems around HealthCare.gov.”

She said those climbing on board are from leading technology companies such as Red Hat and Oracle and include individuals with expertise on site reliability, stability and scalability. She said two of those key personnel are Michael Dickerson and Greg Gershman.

Michael (Mikey) Dickerson, a site reliability engineer on leave from Google, is working on the stability of the Web site. “He has expertise in diving into any layer of the tech stack, from the metal to the application code to the people that write it,” she said, “in order to deliver some of the world's most reliable online services.”

Clear Path Forward

Greg Gershman is Director of Innovation for Washington D.C.-based Mobomo, a mobile app design and development company. “Greg is a developer and entrepreneur with experience running agile development teams and creating better user experiences when interacting with government,” said Bataille.

His company, which helps businesses and organizations build mobile applications, is no stranger to government work. The company built the official U.S. Navy apps for iOS, Android, and Chromebook. The apps help connect families with events and news about sailors at sea. The firm also tackled a system for NASA.gov and subdomains in 13 weeks, replacing an older proprietary system with a Drupal open-source content management system powered by Amazon Web Services. (continued...)

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Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Pluto Lane:

Posted: 2013-11-09 @ 12:55pm PT
Here's an answer:

Contract it out to the private sector to build and implement because they can do it so much better than the government can.

Oh... wait.

That's exactly what they did.

Michael O'Daniel:

Posted: 2013-11-02 @ 7:38am PT
I think it's pathetic and outrageous that this debacle ever happened in the first place. Government agencies either do not care or are totally incompetent when it comes to managing IT properly -- they waste millions or billions of taxpayer money and no one has accountability, or loses his/her job, as a result of doing so. This was supposed to be a tech-savvy administration, but the agencies still don't know how to write reqs properly, how to hire and manage the right vendors, and how to implement IT projects that are secure and properly serve the users they are allegedly designed to serve. Does anyone have an answer for that?



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