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It’s Not the Obamacare Website, It’s the Government Contractor

 

 

Article Summary:

Over the past couple of weeks the media has continued to harp about the failures of the Obamacare website, but they have failed to recognize the true story. The true story is that government contractors have continuously failed to deliver quality products on time and within budget.  These failures have cost taxpayers billions due to overrun costs and failures to meet schedules and technical requirements, but will surely go unnoticed in the upcoming budget negotiations as long as the media continues to ignore the issue.

What the public is unaware of is that the world of government contracting revolves around the concept of the “lowest bidder” or “lowest price-technically acceptable”.  This means that the proposal with the lowest price wins.  What’s even more inexplicable is that government contractors are going to extreme lengths to win over contracts and are setting prices that are unrealistic in order to get the work done.   It has become clear that in this “price to win” strategy, getting the work done is not the goal, but winning the work is.

In addition to this, government contracts are constantly being renegotiated because of “unforeseen costs and technical issues” which forces the government to end up spending more money due to the importance of the work that needs to be done.  What’s even worse is the practice of “selling and keeping sold” that continues to drain the government and taxpayers of their money.  This is the practice of winning a contract and convincing the government to continue past the original termination date by adding additional functionality to the original requirements.

The Obamacare website is therefore a symptom and not the root cause of the issue.  It is time for the media to shine light on this issue in order to stop these disturbing practices and save the taxpayers money.

 

Reference:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/20/1249082/-It-s-Not-the-Obamacare-Website-It-s-the-Government-Contractor-Stupid#

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4 Comments


Daiquiri Ryan
11/15/13

I definitely agree that government contracting is a problem that the media needs to address. The bidding system is setting any project up to fail instead of using a “best value” mentality. Another component of the Affordable Health Care Act roll out that contributed to the mess that we see now is the number of companies that won the bid. Healthcare.gov was actually created by five different companies. The issue at hand was caused by a lack of communication between the companies. They each built a system in a silo and the systems do not speak or interact with each other properly (an IT nightmare). Had they used dominant information to talk to each other, healthcare.gov would have rolled out as one of the most successful governmental programs. The government contracting process is a part of the public versus private dichotomy.


Serb Brar
12/01/13

This is interesting because the Government is both following and not following IMT principles at the same time. For example, they are using the best value approach in basically saying that they want a contractor to build a website, but how that’s done is up to the contractor who is supposed to be the expert, yet the bidding system to find a contractor is leading to the government not hiring real experts. As a result, the best value approach is being applied to people who basically do not know what they are doing, but are “winning the work” because they are giving the government (consumer) an unrealistic plan.


Saransh Noel Prasad
12/05/13

I agree with Daiquiri on the problem with the type of biding process being used for their purpose by the government. This type of bidding process is fraught with inherent problems that Type C people who do not have the expertise to do the work try exploit the system and win the bids. This unnecessarily leads revision of budget and schedules once it is realised that the the low price quoted for the bid would not allow completion of the work. It is time that the lessons learnt from the previous failures be implemented and the use of the Best Value practice starts in order to avoid the costly time and cost overruns


Rizwan Assainar
01/25/14

I agree with the comments posted by Daiquiri and Saransh. As the article rightly says, the motive of different contractors is just to “win” the contract and when they win it, they start thinking on “how” to do the work. The contractors without introspecting the initial conditions or on how the work should be done within appropriate cost and schedule with considerable contingencies will certainly lead to failure like the “Obamacare”. When the contractors only thinks in a way just to “win” the contract the risk goes up and the final outcomes are several. I think the implementation of “best value” contract should be brought into public contracts. The inclination towards winning the contract should be enhanced by best value approach by giving the contract not just to the “lowest bidder” but, to the contractor that performed well in the past with proper technical expertise and resources.

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