Last Sunday, returning from the great 3rd Global Conference on Transparency Research held at HEC, Paris, I heard for the first time about the Healthcare.gov case.
I was reading the French newspaper JDD, when a news story caught my attention:
"De l'autre, Cheryl Campbell, dont la société CGI Federal a reçu près de 200 millions de
dollars (145 millions d'euros) pour développer et veiller au bon
fonctionnement du site. "Nous n'avons pas bénéficié d'assez de temps
pour tester le site, a-t-elle accusé. Seulement deux semaines.""
I did laugh.
After the trip I went on to look at Slate; and look what it says: "Everyone at the
hearing, contractors and representatives alike, seemed ignorant of what
is demanded by this sort of testing, with the exception of Jerry
McNerney, D-Calif., a mathematics Ph.D. and ex-programmer. He asked
about such specifications for integrations. Campbell said, “There were
use-cases and things of that sort,” evidently unfamiliar with what
specifications are (hint: not use-cases). Slavitt said, “We believe we
received appropriate specifications.”"
But there is more: "On his Friday call, Zients differentiated between
healthcare.gov’s “scale” issues and its “functionality” issues. I
believe this marks the first time that the administration has admitted
that healthcare.gov’s problems went far beyond the site being
overloaded. Zients said that account creation had now been fixed, with
more than 90 percent of users now able to create accounts. But only 30
percent have been able to complete an actual insurance application. And
that’s not even to say that the application is correct, owing to reports
of children getting listed as multiple spouses and the like."
I will comment about these paragraphs, soon. They are good examples of the lack of proper Requirements Engineering.