Barack Obama entered the Oval Office with no executive experience whatsoever, and the Obamacare website is the logical consequence of his contempt for the discipline of management. This much is obvious to most people who have ever had responsibility for building a business. And finally, some people with relevant experience are beginning to say so.
The CEO of a major high tech company has made an extraordinary statement. From Politico:
"We would have done this" for a fraction of the price, "and it would have been working perfectly," Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Bay Area global cloud provider Salesforce.com, said in an interview. "But we were turned away."
Benioff is no upstart. His company is one of the hottest tech outfits today, and has been asked to help out in the fiasco. He is willing to point out that the technical challenges were not so great as to make failure inevitable. And his firm has offered advice, but apparently the Obama administration wasn't willing to commit to bringing in a team that could be managed.
Salesforce.com has spoken to the administration recently about the website issues and made recommendations, Benioff said, but "we are not there. They would need to say, 'Bring in your team.'" (snip)
Benioff said the administration has encouraged his employee, Vivek Kundra, who served as the White House's first chief information officer, to come in and help. He did not specify whether Kundra, now Salesforce.com's executive vice president of emerging markets, agreed to do so.
Kundra did not respond to requests for comment. HHS officials, who said they would draw from the "best and the brightest" computer experts, declined to comment.
There can be no question that the website disaster has its roots in Obama's failure to understand management. There was no overall project management, coordinating the various moving parts that need to mesh smoothly. The questionable choice of a Canadian company that just happened to employ a classmate of Michelle Obama reflected a "throw money at it" mentality, given that company's demonstrated failures in creating Canada's firearms registry and various other projects.
Although one can't completely rule out the possibility that the website will be "fixed" by the self-imposed November deadline, it seems highly unlikely. The sheer magnitude of the program - a reported 500 million lines of code - is one major factor. But another is that there was never any coordinated management to begin with. Garbage in/Garbage out is a well-known maxim in the tech sphere. It appears that there is an overwhelming amount of garbage to deal with. People in a position to know realize this. Obama, with his contempt for management, may never be able to understand.