The New York Times published another expose on all of Barack Obama’s bureaucratic failures in attempting to build and launch a large-scale government-run website for healthcare insurance. In it we find some of the tragicomic elements of Socialism and why government bureaucracies fail.
I’ll try to keep it summary level and devastating…
Here are the hallmarks of central government bureaucracies and why they always fail.
Inexperienced foot soldiers in way over their heads: Barack Obama chose poor Henry Chao to manage a $630 million software development project. Was Henry experienced in doing this kind of project?
As a result, the president’s signature initiative was effectively left under the day-to-day management of Henry Chao, a 19-year veteran of the Medicare agency with little clout and little formal background in computer science.
And let’s not forget that Barack Obama is a life-long government worker. He has no experience managing anything (except, as he pointed out in response to successful criticism by Sarah Palin in 2008, his campaign for president). He has no experience with the business imperative to make a profit.
Paralyzed Decision Making: Bureaucracies are famously unable to make decisions, a state of being that is usually fatal to the enterprise or project.
CGI and other contractors complained of endlessly shifting requirements and a government decision-making process so cumbersome that it took weeks to resolve elementary questions, such as determining whether users should be required to provide Social Security numbers.
Talent Flight: Bureaucrats are the enemy of talent, because they don’t respect it and seek to bully it. In the case of Barack Obama, there may even be contempt for talent, which I believe permeates his administration — famously known as having the least private sector experience in the history of presidential cabinets.
Some CGI software engineers ultimately walked out, saying it was impossible to produce good work under such conditions.
Lack of Empowerment: Henry Chao was head of the project but had no authority.
Mr. Chao had to consult with senior department officials and the White House, and was unable to make many decisions on his own.
Arrogant faith in the Bureaucrat over the Private Contractor: Despite Obama’s deficiencies, he has supreme confidence, based on nothing, about a central government’s ability to build things, and even complex things that took private companies decades to perfect (e.g., Amazon.com). Remember, as he told all of us, “YOU DIDN’T BUILD THAT”. He thinks government builds things and builds them well.
The prime contractor, CGI Federal, had long before concluded that the administration was blindly enamored of an unrealistic goal: creating a cutting-edge website that would use the latest technologies to dazzle consumers with its many features. Knowing how long it would take to complete and test the software, the company’s officials and other vendors believed that it was impossible to open a fully functioning exchange on Oct. 1.
Government officials, on the other hand, insisted that Oct. 1 was not negotiable.
Backup? What’s Backup?: The bureaucrat does not plan, he fiddles and blusters, with no backup plan.
A backup system that could go live if it did crash was not created, a weakness the administration has never disclosed.
This case study is too perfect, and too devastating for our country to survive. The law must be repealed immediately.