American taxpayers have been frustrated by the failures of the Obamacare Healthcare.gov website – wrong responses, no responses, messages to just wait or come back later – but a headline in Digital Trends perhaps best captures the outrage over the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the unsuccessful project.
“We paid over $500 million for the Obamacare sites and all we got was this lousy 404 (error code),” it states.
Even at $250,000 per year, that would hire more than 2,500 primary care physicians to care for the sick and ailing all across America.
At the tech-related Motherboard Meghan Neal observed, “As a point of comparison, Digital Trends pointed out that Facebook didn’t spend $600 million for the first six years it was up and running. In fact Facebook’s early financing was minuscule even in compared with today’s successful startups. Early rounds of seed funding from the founders themselves, angel investors like Peter Thiel, and VC firms totaled about $42 million in the first year after it launched. Twitter launched with only $360 million in seed money, and LinkedIn and Spotify with under $300 million.”
“If you start throwing people in and start having them just fixing bugs it could be a recipe for disaster where you end up with more bugs than when you started,” James Turner, of Beeonics, told Fox.
“If 55 contractors couldn’t successfully build, test and run a website, how do we expect anyone else to be able to do this?” questioned Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.
The key contractor was CGI Federal and it originally was supposed to get about $93 million for its part in the project. Latest totals, reported by Reuters, say that’s already ballooned to $292 million.
The federal site, which is to serve 36 states, “stalled within minutes of its October 1 launch, leaving millions of Americans unable to create accounts or shop for plans,” Reuters said.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told Fox News earlier this week the details aren’t available.
“They wont’ tell us exactly who they are bringing in, and they won’t tell us how much they are spending on it.”
But George Edwards, of Quandary Peak Research, a software-consulting company, said it won’t be cheap.
“As we all know in the software industry … the later you find problems, the harder they are to fix. When you identify problems after the system has been integrated and running and being used by people, then it’s going to be more expensive to fix and unfortunately, that seems tto be the situation we’re in right now.”
Reuters reported that so far, no other IT contractors have been willing to admit they bid on the project.
The costs, whatever they end up totaling, put other website projects in the also-ran category.
The blog reporting the price noted that the U.S. government’s Recovery.gov transparency site also was in the range of $18 million.
Another blogger pointed out it’s really impossible to know the most expensive website “unless we have access to the amount of money each company spent on theirs. The chances of getting that information out of them are virtually zero.”
But a United Kingdom tech portal reported the government there created a businesslink.gov.uk website that cost about 105 million British pounds. which would be just under $170 million.
Just for comparison, Forbes reports that if one would ask for a fixed bid on a basic website, the prices would be in the range of $5,000.
Or $100 per hour on a time-based billing.
As Forbes put it, however, “Websites are something that someone, often multiple people, have to put together. Viewing it as service-based will help you to bettetr understand why a one-off price isn’t simple to give – building a website takes continued time and effort.”