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Startup investor Brad Feld on Obamacare: forget the ‘tech surge,’ shut down and reset

To fix the glitch-ridden website for the government’s new health insurance marketplace, President Barack Obama and the Department of Health and Human Services said they’re mounting a “tech surge” of talent to help address the problems. But in a blog post, investor and entrepreneur Brad Feld said he thinks this is “exactly the wrong thing to do.”

Citing engineer and The Mythical Man-Month author Frederick Brooks, he said adding more engineers to an already delayed project tends to only further stall progress. Instead, he suggests taking all of the health exchange sites offline, setting a new launch date for July 2014, firing all of the contractors and hiring former Obama for America CTO Harper Reed as CTO of

Feld (who will be one of the speakers at a GigaOM meetup tonight in Denver) isn’t the only skeptic of the tech surge. Despite President Obama’s attempts to downplay the website’s problems as mere “kinks,” other IT experts have said they believe the site’s issues reveal deeper issues with its underlying architecture and that adding more programmers could slow things down.

9 Responses to “Startup investor Brad Feld on Obamacare: forget the ‘tech surge,’ shut down and reset”

  1. This gigantic system was rushed into being. It’s 500 million lines of code by some 55 different suppliers and nowhere near enough integration. They basically (no pun intended) need to take it apart, test the pieces, then put it back together a piece at a time, making sure each piece is properly integrated. Each time they add a piece, the testing necessarily gets a little more elaborate and time-consuming — if they do it right. Most of all they need leadership with the authority to solve conflicts on the fly. Remember the FBI’s attempt to automate its internal information flow?

    It’s possible government doesn’t know how to think big enough to truly integrate a bureaucracy made up of entrenched fiefdoms, nodes of expertise and special applications, and an awkward mix of careerists and political appointees in management.

  2. I wonder how all these “tech experts” know what’s wrong with if they don’t work on the project, haven’t reviewed the code, seen the error messages, etc. Where I work, bugs are systematically diagnosed by technicians, not by customers or industry analysts. How about we let the engineers diagnose, report and repair. Then we can all play Monday morning quarterback and tell everyone what to do.

  3. =) and all while mercury is retrograde. good. then maybe we can discuss the real issue no one really wants to discuss — the fact that the intention of the act is not to provide quality healthcare to americans. oh, sure, they may say that, but the design and structure of the Act belies that imprinted intention.