Monthly Archives: October 2013

What went wrong at Healthcare.gov?

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Folks, I’m going to be on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on Monday and need your help.

1) What are the best explanations of what went wrong at Healthcare.gov? This digest by Charles Ornstein is a start but I’d love more.

2) What are the best papers you’ve read about federal contracting? Where would you point people to understand how contracting works, why there are so many rules about how technology can be acquired and how this system needs to change/is changing?

Who do you think has best answered the question of “what went wrong at Healthcare .gov” amongst the national media and expert technologists?

In addition to the links above , I’d add:

What else should people read?

12/1/2013 Update: After two months of intense scrutiny, the tensions and troubles behind Healthcare.gov have been well-documented by investigative journalists at The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, ProPublica and NPR News.

No single issue led to the Healthcare.gov’s failure at relaunch on October 1. Rather, a combination of procurement problems, poor work by a key contractor, bad management skills, insularity and political sensitivity led to a bug-laden website with a broken backend.

How well is Healthcare.gov working today? Better, at least on the front-end, as detailed in an operational progress report released on December 1st. Lost in that update on the administration’s “big fix, however, was a detail released in a December 2nd post on improved window shopping at Healthcare.gov, published on the Department of Health and Human Services blog (emphasis is mine):

Over the last several weeks, we’ve made a number of changes to improve the accuracy of the “834” messages to issuers. The team, working with issuers, determined that more than 80 percent of 834 production errors were due to a bug that prevented a Social Security number from being included in the application, which in turn caused the system not to generate an 834. That bug has been fixed. Other issues related to the remaining 834 production issues have either been fixed or are in testing so that the fixes can be deployed soon.

In other words, when the Healthcare.gov marketplace launched, a single programming error meant that enrollment data being sent to insurers was invalid. That’s not just a bug: it’s a fundamental shortfall in meeting the requirements for a functional software application of this sort.

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Twitter disables links in direct messages [Updated]

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Removing the ability to send links in direct messages is the first time Twitter has truly crippled its service for me.

UPDATE: Per TechCrunch, this appears to be temporary, caused by a technical choice to try to address an upsurge in spam, not a permanent change. Here’s hoping. I’ve updated the headline of this post.

Twitter posted this message on its DM help article:

We’re restructuring back-end elements of our direct message system. As a result, users may be unable to send some URLs in direct messages. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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New “Hobbit” trailer substitutes more fighting for wonder

This morning, a new trailer for the next installment of “The Hobbit” was released online.
All in all, this new vision of a beloved epic fantasy tale was much more enjoyable to wake to this morning than reality in DC.

This Tolkein fan was quite dismayed, however, to see so much screentime in “The Desolation of Smaug” given to Legolas and a female elf, neither of whom figured at _all_ in the book, along with more of the white orc and wrangling with goblins.

I’m not sure what to make of “Tauriel,” played by Evangeline Lilly, other than to see a pretty naked attempt by the filmmakers to add a female character to a story almost entirely devoid of them. them. At least Peter Jackson has “confirmed there will be no romantic connection to Legolas,” per IMDB.

It looks like a lot more fighting has been introduced in the storyline, just as with the first installment. I’m not pleased.

While hack/slash may appeal to the teens that swell the coffers of movie ticket sales, I can’t help but feel that there was more than enough mystery and magic in the journey from the edge of the Misty Mountains to Beorn, Mirkwood, the wood elves kingdom, barrels out of bondage and the gateway of Erebor.

The scenes of orcs marching (in Mordor?) and the eye of Sauron are a on the whole less jarring, in terms of Jackson, Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens weaving in details from the appendices and making this much more of a prequel to the Lord of the Rings, though the effect is to dramatically change the scope and feeling of the magical tale that Tolkein originally wove for his children.

What do you think?

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