(New York Magazine) This week, as programmers in Washington scrambled to fix the glitch-ridden healthcare.gov, the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act architecture, their counterparts in Silicon Valley viewed the situation with a mixture of rolled eyes and sympathy.
Many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have experienced a flawed launch of a big product, accompanied by unexpected delays and over-budget implementation. It’s the way things go here, and failure is often embraced as a learning experience. Still, around the coffee shops of San Francisco and the tech campuses of the South Bay this week, the topic of the government’s health-care push often elicited cynical jokes — one tech worker quipped that a Stanford computer-science class could have built healthcare.gov for a thousandth of the reported $400 million–plus budget — and confusion. How could a project involving a budget of that size and five years of lead time fail so badly? What was so hard about building, as some have called healthcare.gov, a Kayak for health insurance?