Free Markets, Free People


Blatant cronyism? Most likely, yes …

This on-line debacle that’s so embarrassed the Democrats and the Obama administration?  It is likely the result of blatant cronyism.  The inept hiring the incompetent:

A tech firm linked to a campaign-donor crony of President Obama not only got the job to help build the federal health-insurance Web site — but also is getting paid to fix it.

Anthony Welters, a top campaign bundler for Obama and frequent White House guest, is the executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, which owns the software company now at the center of the ObamaCare Web-site fiasco.

UnitedHealth Group subsidiary Quality Software Services Inc. (QSSI), which built the data hub for the ObamaCare system, has been named the new general contractor in charge of repairing the glitch-plagued HealthCare.gov.

Welters and his wife, Beatrice, have shoveled piles of cash into Obama’s campaign coffers and ­apparently reaped the rewards.

Beatrice Welters bundled donations totaling between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama’s campaign during the 2008 election ­cycle, according to campaign- ­finance data compiled by Center for Responsive Politics.

Well, how sweet is that?  Give a little, get a lot!  And while this certainly isn’t the first administration or political party to practice cronyism, it certainly is the most open about it.  One would almost think they believe that they are entitled.  A spoils system of sorts.

UnitedHealth Group is one of the largest health-insurance companies in the country and spent millions lobbying for ObamaCare.

The insurance giant’s purchase of QSSI in 2012 raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, but the tech firm nevertheless kept the job of building the data hub for the ObamaCare Web site where consumers buy the new mandatory health- ­insurance plans.

QSSI has been paid an estimated $150 million so far, but officials couldn’t say how much more the company might collect on the ­repair contract.

Whatever happened to the belief that there should be a distance between politics and business?  Once, it was a point of integrity to ensure there was no shadow or hint of a possible conflict of interest?

Now?  Just line up at the trough, those that gave the most get the most.  As for the work?  Just like every other government program (except health care), they’ll be glad to overpay for shoddy work.

And here we are.

“I’m extraordinarily frustrated,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) ­after top Obama-administration officials gave Senate Democrats a private briefing on the state of the Web-site repairs.

He said they were losing confidence the site could be quickly fixed.

“I don’t think there’s confidence by anyone in the room. This is more of a show-me moment,” said Merkley.

I don’t think there’s confidence by anyone in the country – except, of  course, the “true believers”.

~McQ

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18 Responses to Blatant cronyism? Most likely, yes …

  • No no, they’ve brought in the gods from Oracle and Google and Red Hat!
    All will proceed exactly as Obama has foreseen.

    Unfortunately he was focusing on fund raising, which will proceed for this company exactly as he has foreseen.
    Working web site and back end?  not so much.

    I’m feeling waaaaaay to much schadenfreude from this!

    Well, no, not really.    Popcorn anyone?


    Meanwhile on the “Government protects you!” channel, the TSA has launched a successful attack on itself at LAX.
    Thank God the TSA was there to protect us from the TSA!

  • CGI previously had the Canadian Gun Registry web site.  It was supposed to nearly pay for itself with fees, but ended up costing $300 for the government to register a each weapon.
    When it costs more to register than the value of the object being registered, you know it’s just plain bad.

  • Hannity has several times interviewed a guy with decades of experience in creating this type of utility.  You can look him up.

    Bottom line: he would be embarrassed to charge over a million bucks for a working system.  And it would take a few weeks.

    But something I read today implicates the “back-end” systems for the real systemic failure…all the existing kludge in the systems that already exist in the various agencies.  IF that is the case, the FAILberg will never see success, as the British seem to have learned in THEIR FAILberg experience.

    And, something nobody has mentioned, pretty much EVERY private insurance company has a working website where huge numbers of people have gone for years to shop for insurance.

    Markets work.  BIG GOVERNMENT ruins.  AND it makes for a swell illegal reparations program, too…

    • Come on .. you know better.  Just how are they going to be able to make campaign donations to Democrats if they don’t overcharge by orders of magnitude ?

    • For added insight, check out Strata-Sphere.com.
      Apparently this sort of thing (fixing massive federal programming fubars) is AJ Strata’s bread-and-butter.
      His series of Obamacare/ Healthcare.gov posts starts on Oct. 15th ( & even the one that looks like it’s about the GOP is heavily focused on the failed rollout).  He gives us laymen an inkling of what SHOULD have happened and why the Data Hub is a horrible bottleneck, etc.
       

      • I’ve got almost three decades of software engineering experience (though not in large, distributed government software systems) and everything Aj Strata has written about HealthCare.gov makes perfect sense to me. I’ve been following his analysis with great interest – and I’m convinced that the Obamacare system is as doomed as the one complete runaway software project I’ve worked on (100+ man-years and no usable result, in that case).

    • “Bottom line: he would be embarrassed to charge over a million bucks for a working system.  And it would take a few weeks.”


      I hate to throw cold water on such delicious red meat (to mix metaphors), but this guy is blowing smoke (oh, there’s another one). Unless he’s *only* talking about a very small subset of the front end of the site, he is ludicrously wrong.


      Seriously, I’ve been in this business for over thirty years, and while you could do a nice data-driven commercial web site for a million bucks, that’s not what healthcare.gov was supposed to be, or has to be.


      It has to tie into half a dozen disparate back ends, which are mostly controlled by external partners and not the team building this site. If those data sources have a terrible design or were created for something else, the team has to just program around that. If the sources’ performance sucks, as it often does, the teams must find ways to cache and optimize the fetching of the data.


      It has to have much better security than the usual web site, plus satisfy HIPPA requirements. It has to be scalable to handle large volumes on days such as the opening and the deadline days. It has to have a user experience easy enough for a high school dropout to understand.


      No one who really understands complex web applications would publicly claim to be able to do all that for a million dollars. This guy sounds like he’s one of those far-too-common people in the industry who screw up most of the projects they get, but somehow it’s always someone else’s fault that their optimistic budgets and deadlines never get met. Or maybe he knows better but is just trolling for attention.

      • Could be all, some, or none of that, Billy.  Dunno.
        You should look up the guy’s interviews with Hannity.  I would give you his name, but I have this curse…  Chinese name.
        And he could have been talking about a system that simply allowed people to do some “comparison shopping”.  Which would have been a nice, none totalitarian kinda thing to offer.  Again, dunno.
        And that would have been an approach I think I would take, were I the head duck in this thing…nice bite-sized (see what I did there?) pieces of a whole that allowed people to get information and then go to the next (working and tested) step, but each in its own little happy site.
        As to HIPPA, why, we were ASSured by that braying ass from New Jersey the other day (Rep. “Monkey Trial”) that HIPPA could not be implicated, since no pre-existing condition was considered.  And, OF COURSE, I believe that.
        Well, except for the part about “all you medical records belonga us”…

        • Well, there IS an easy temptation to make much less of this than there is.

          But….All in all I think Billy pretty much nailed it.

          Don’t forget the ‘sign up to vote’ features though  :)

      • If those data sources have a terrible design or were created for something else, the team has to just program around that. If the sources’ performance sucks, as it often does, the teams must find ways to cache and optimize the fetching of the data.

        …which is otherwise known as a “vertical performance enhancement,” and you have to find, analyze, and design each one individually. It takes major effort (ask me how I know).
         

  • Whatever happened to the belief that there should be a distance between politics and business?
    That just applies to businesses identified as Republican leaning.

    • Whatever happened to the belief that there should be a distance between politics and business?
      Fascism. Progressivism. Next question?

  • About five years ago, it became too much to ask of Obama that he just outline his particular plan, explain its advantages and shortcomings, invite input from skeptics, pass the bill with some bipartisan support, enact both the costs and benefits at the same time, warn in advance those who might suffer, and then confess mistakes and quit demonizing critics. Instead Obamacare follows the method of Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the AP and IRS scandals, Syria, and the NSA: fibs and full lies, counter-accusations, the non-stop campaigning, and Nixonian charges of some terrible -ism or -ology that drives the criticism of the day.
    What was once bothersome is now just boring . . .
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/362919/obamacare-ten-step-self-help-program-victor-davis-hanson
    Read the whole thing.