A healthier Healthcare.gov

I remain fascinated with all the Healthcare.Gov stuff from the US. I am not sure the failure of a web project has ever been higher profile and the speed of recovery from IT disaster to success story was/is simply remarkable.

This article about the ‘trauma team’ of geek volunteers brought in to save the day makes for really interesting reading (and not just because I recognise so many elements of the problems – albeit on a much smaller scale).

The idea that a relatively small team of experts from Google, Twitter and other big web companies were able to come in and take over running things and sort it out within six weeks is pretty amazing. My favourite quote in the story comes from Mike Dickerson, the Google engineer who (essentially) volunteered his time to lead this team;

“It’s just a website. We’re not going to the moon.”

I think it is important to remember that. Especially as in Government circles we sometimes seem to spend Apollo levels of money on websites and probably have more reporting and governance than NASA at the height of the space race 🙂

One of the interesting side effects of the whole Healthcare.gov problems seems to have been the birth of 18F – which styles itself as;

“..a digital services agency built on the lean startup model based within the United States federal government.

There is no doubt that this new initiative owes a great deal to our own Government Digital Service but also builds on the Presidential Innovation Fellows as well as the ideals of Code for America. It will be interesting to see how much influence a relatively small ‘in-house’ agency can have on digital across the Federal government but the willingness to at least try something different surely bodes well.

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