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Accenture Faces Mid-March Healthcare.gov Deadline Or 'Disaster' 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the hope-you're-looking-forward-to-continued-drama dept.
PapayaSF writes "TheHill.com reports that Accenture has two months to fix HealthCare.gov by building a 'financial management platform that tracks eligibility and enrollment transactions, accounts for subsidy payments to insurance plans, "provides stable and predictable financial accounting and outlook for the entire program," and that integrates with existing CMS and IRS systems.' The procurement document, posted on a federal website, states that if this is not completed in time, there will be 'financial harm to the government' and 'the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.' Risk mitigation (which pays insurers who enroll a higher-than-expected number of sick patients) must be accurately forecast, or it might put 'the entire health insurance industry at risk.' Accenture will also have to fix the enrollment transmissions, which have been sending inaccurate and garbled data to insurance companies. Because the back-end cannot currently handle the federal subsidies, insurers will be paid estimated amounts as a stopgap measure. The document also said that officials realized in December that there was no time for a 'full and open competition process' before awarding Accenture the $91 million contract. What are their odds of success?"
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Accenture Faces Mid-March Healthcare.gov Deadline Or 'Disaster'

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  • Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:16AM (#46003603)

    Why is government software like this thing not open source? What is the motivation for it being closed source?

  • Two months? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp (111690) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:21AM (#46003619) Homepage

    Two months is barely enough to understand the problem and to start reading top level documents. Not even looking at the code. Most of those tasks are system-level, and it will be essential to understand what data formats each of those entities wants - before some poor code monkey is given signed requirements to generate that data.

  • 0% (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson@ g m a i l . c om> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:24AM (#46003623) Homepage Journal

    No chance at success. Just like the rest of ObamaCare, a misconceived piece of legislation that managed to take a market plagued by serial distortions of preferential tax treatment for third-party insurance and actually make them worse by larding on an individual mandate and even larger subsidies to insurance companies.

    And the worst is yet to come, when some 80 million additional employer-sponsored policies are cancelled [foxnews.com].

    The failure of the website is just the cherry on top of incompetent conception, planning and execution all along the line. It can take Apple or Microsoft 6 months to fix the bugs in a major release to an X.1 release, and Accenture is supposed to take someone else's far-more-dysfunctional code-base and make it work in 8 weeks?

    Not going to happen, and just another example of the serial dishonesty and manifest incompetence of the Obama Administration.

  • Slim..... and None (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kenwd0elq (985465) <kenwd0elq@gmail.com> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:24AM (#46003627)

    Especially for Accenture, a company with a fairly consistent record for failure in large IT projects, especially for government IT projects.

    But at that, the chances of something that can be spun as "successful" are greater for Accenture than for Deloitte. Not by much.... but some.

  • Disaster for who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaymzter (452402) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:40AM (#46003677) Homepage

    I think the headline writers are a bit confused on who exactly is facing the disaster here, and it's certainly not Accenture.

  • by The Cat (19816) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:48AM (#46003707)

    There is no longer any point to these discussions of American inability to accomplish anything useful.

    1. Fifteen years ago, Americans cheered as their neighbors were fired en masse while their retirement accounts were savaged by the dot com crash and corporations helped themselves to armloads of taxpayer cash.

    2. Eight years later, Americans cheered as their still unemployed neighbors were thrown from their homes by bald-faced institutional fraud while corporations helped themselves to armloads of taxpayer cash.

    3. Now, Americans cheer as their government passes, then ratifies a plainly unconstitutional monstrosity which deprives millions of families of affordable health care while corporations help themselves to armloads of taxpayer cash.

    Americans once valued education and competence. Americans followed people they respect. American leaders took care of the people they led.

    But the word "American" no longer has any meaning to the people who live in this country. The average person is embarrassed to claim the name "American." Those who do are reviled, jeered and looked on with suspicion.

    We have completely forsaken our integrity, our parents, our country and everything it ever stood for. Flying the flag over the narcissistic wreck this country has become is nothing short of blasphemous.

    The men who died at Appomattox, and Normandy, and Lexington and the Somme died for nothing. We have abandoned our neighbors to the winds and freed our government to claim any power it wishes and to use it however destructively it wishes without even the slightest electoral consequence. America no longer has a soul.

    And that is why all the king's horses and all the king's men can't build a web site.

  • by IgnorantMotherFucker (3394481) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:50AM (#46003711) Homepage
    How is it that we landed men on the moon in ten years, but we can't write some web applications in six years? Or consider that the US involvement in the second world war was just four years, enough time for us to develop two different kinds of nuclear weapons, as well as build vast numbers of ships and airplanes that actually worked.
  • Re:Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:04AM (#46003775) Homepage

    Money.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:09AM (#46003793) Homepage

    Yep. I see no mention anywhere of "penalties" or "personal liability".

    I bet those people who are busy pocketing money wouldn't be so eager to sign government contracts if they put words like those in them.

  • Re:Two months? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:10AM (#46003795) Homepage

    they have had a couple years to work on this, why are they dragging their nuts

    Because the first 18 months will have been spent picking out nice furniture for the new offices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:26AM (#46003835)

    1) Both World War II and the Apollo program had larger budgets and
    2) the delivery deadline was not flexible and was not adjusted even when it was clear the project could not be delivered as expected. E.g. D-day airdrops over Normandy were delayed because of fog. Might have been more expensive (in soldiers and $$) if the airdrops were performed regardless of the weather because the political cost of delaying it was considered too high.

    I guess it's Slashdot so there are a lot of poorly thought-out quips by smart people, but really, why is everyone taking this as proof of US Gov't ineptitude? Anyone with experience in large projects should know it's, at best, a 50-50 chance that any given project will succeed. Throw into the mix the opposition party amping up the political stakes for missing the deadline, a customer (the White House) desperate to prove them wrong, and you have a recipe for disappointment. I've seen the exact same thing in a large Corporation where one branch had a pet project and another branch was actively campaigning to kill it. In that case, the outcome was actually much worse than what's been happening with Healthcare.gov, but it was confidential so never made it to the papers (there was some suing involved so via court documents maybe it did have some visibility in some obscure fashion).

  • by Dodgy G33za (1669772) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:01AM (#46003941)

    Accenture worked on the Australian Taxation Offices "Change Program", which cost billions and was a debacle. From the moment that they got the contract it was all about trying to progressively descope so that they had to deliver less and less. They delivered a fraction of what they said they would and many years late.

    But then they have a habit of employing smart young non-techies and then putting them in technical positions, and work practices that border on a cult.

    Why anyone would throw money at these clowns is anyone's guess.

  • Re:Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:04AM (#46003947)

    Two reasons:

    1. People are (god help me, I feel a fedora sprouting from my head and hairs growing from my neck as I type this) sheep. Your average person would lose their goddamned shit if they didn't have someone telling them what to do and when to do it. This is the end result of an education system that teaches blind love of authority, followed by corporate structures that do the same with regard to their employees. Thinking is hard. Decisions are tough. Et cetera.

    2. The only way to resolve the problem of the system is to vote in people who will change it. But if we vote for the wrong people, those other people might get elected! And they'll destroy us all! We'd better just vote for our team. Oh, yes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:10AM (#46003961)

    They got the plan straight from the Mendacity King, Mitt Romney.

    People love to bring this up, but protip:

    There is a massive difference in legality*, complexity, necessity, and implementation in running a program in a state, vs. running it at the Federal level.

    "Obamacare" is most certainly not "Romneycare".

    (* The Federal government has absolutely no authority to be enacting health care nonsense. In effect, this legislation is illegal. In reality, the Constitution is long dead in all but in the form of something to trot out and thump one's chest about, so it's game on, of course. I'm not calling out either party here, because you'd pretty much have to go back to John Motherfucking Adams if you want the first real boot to the Constitution's head, or George Kills-For-Fun Washington if you want to see where the destruction of the supreme law of the land actually began.)

  • by tleaf100 (2020038) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:34AM (#46004003)
    er thats because the americans did'nt do what you reckon they did. manhatten would not even existed if europeans had not done most of the early work and if the project had only contained americans it would have taken closer to 20 years,if done at all. moon shots,big simple hammer technology mostly done by germans kidnapped from germany and forced to take american nationality,technicaly american,but only just. as pointed out in post above,one of americas major problems is their love of rose tinted glasses that appear to also contain an image of stars and strips,explaining why you all see american success's everywhere,while the rest of us just look on and watch this big,fat,clumsy teenager called america clump and thrash and push their way to head of the que.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:50AM (#46004039)

    So, it's a $91 million dollar contract on a two month timeline.

    Let's say there is a profit margin in there, of 50%, so cost is 45.5 million

    Let's say it's really important, and everybody works 60 days.

    That is over 750,000 per day.

    If we average $4,000 (total guess) per day per project team member, we have 190 people on the team.

    Who the hell can organise 190 people on a two month project.

    How has this been estimated?

    Can anyone else make the numbers work??

  • Re:Open source (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Spy Handler (822350) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:57AM (#46004059) Homepage Journal

    Are you insane? What free software contributor would want to wade through 10,000+ pages of Obamacare? Somebody actually printed it out, and you need a forklift to move it around. And that's just Obamacare, there are mountains of other gov't health/tax/payroll regulations to go through before you write a single line of code.

    Open source is only possible for software that developers want to make, where the developers determine the features. Nobody in the universe is masochistic enough to sit through meetings day after day and work through nights and get grilled by congresscritters for no pay.

  • by Tom (822) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:59AM (#46004071) Homepage Journal

    Why anyone would throw money at these clowns is anyone's guess.

    Because they are highly respected in management circles. You get the tech view on them and I have to agree that I would never, ever, ever hire them unless you put a gun to my head or something equivalent. But management thinks differently. From what I've grasped, they deliver excellent work, as far as management is concerned - that means regular status updates in easy-to-digest powerpoint slides, solid contract work, and instantly available expertise (if you tell them you need an expert on your big-ass storage system, tomorrow, they'll fly someone in and send you a bill).

    All of these and many similar things are like miracles to a beleaguered manager who needs to save his neck from the management layer above him who's asking for his head in order to save their own.

  • Re:Open source (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @06:25AM (#46004141)

    Are you dense? Do you think Open Source means that people work for free? Accenture (or some other contractor) would implement it, get payed by the Government and put it on Github for example. Anyone could identify problems and point them out. The requirement of open source and an open process would be a requirement from the Government.

  • by Dodgy G33za (1669772) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @07:19AM (#46004271)

    True, although the expert will often as not turn out not to be, and they will make decisions that will haunt you for years.

    Not that the competition is any better.

  • Re:0% (Score:2, Insightful)

    by reboot246 (623534) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:09AM (#46004417) Homepage
    In other words, it's working just like it was planned. The goal was to destroy the health insurance companies and then go to a single-payer system. The disaster will come when that is realized. When your health care is in the control of the government, the government has you by the balls. Sounds great, huh?
  • Re:Close to 100% (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:27AM (#46004747) Homepage
    Exactly. Obama will just decree that they can have more time, breaking his own laws once again
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:38AM (#46004801)

    How is it that we landed men on the moon in ten years, but we can't write some web applications in six years?

    NASA engineers didn't have non-technical stakeholders telling them what features the rockets should have. And the NASA engineers were employees at the top of their field not a collection of consultants put together by an outside firm.

    Have you ever seen the episode of the Simpsons where Homer designs a car? Imagine that, except with a committee of politicians. Reckon you could fly to the moon in something they had a hand in?

  • by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:03AM (#46004925) Homepage

    Good old Accenture. I remember having to work with those clowns on the London Stock Exchange website. Our small company had been running it since day 1 but due to a deal between Accenture, Microsoft and HP we were slowly being pushed out of our position. They decided to let the Accenture guys handle running the website which led to a few funny events, the best of which were:

    1. Our team noticing the website had stopped serving pages for price information. We rang their team who were supposedly monitoring it 24/7 and told them. They asked what they should do...uh, so I said "Just IISReset the server, it should come back up". Their highly paid tech then asked me..."how do I IISReset it?"...oh god, no!

    2. Accenture wanted to push a change out to part of the site. They let their best and brightest do the work. Instead of copying over the files he somehow managed to delete the 15 minute delayed price site. They then tried to blame that on us, but when I mentioned in the emergency meeting that we no longer logged on to perform maintenance and we could simple check the security log to see who did it they clammed up.

    3. The same idiot who deleted prices went and deleted the entire website by mistake. We laughed, a lot.

    What's that old line..."Accenture, taking the freshest recruits straight from college and putting them in charge of your billion dollar enterprises." :D

  • Re:0% (Score:4, Insightful)

    by abirdman (557790) * <(abirdman) (at) (maine.rr.com)> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:22PM (#46005369) Homepage Journal
    I fail to see how placing control of health care in the hands of government is more scary than having health care in the hands of piranha-capitalist medical care organizations. Healthcare Inc. is an extremely powerful and vicious adversary, bankrupting millions every year, and basically preying on the weakest and sickest among us. I've worked in a side industry (medical malpractice insurance) for 20 years, and I know the entire medical industry is a vicious money-grab from bottom to top.

    I'll take my chances with the government over any possibility of getting a fair deal from the likes of big-pharma, big-hospital, big-insurance. The logic of this choice becomes more clear the closer to retirement age we get, or the less healthy we get. A thirty year-old who contracts a leukemia that would have been fatal 30 years ago may likely be saved from the disease today, but their finances will likely never recover-- even if they're insured. By the time we're 75, we'll basically be signed over to the system, healthy or not. Would you rather petition the government or UnitedHealthcare? I'll take the former, though I respect those who choose the latter.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:30PM (#46005419)

    But... you sound like one of those "The government doesn't have authority to levy income tax" whackos.

    If the supreme court ruled it was legal, there is zero chance the supreme court is going to come back and say it tried the case illegally. Even if you are correct- which you probably are not.

    And if the supreme court said it's constitutional- then it's constitutional. Full Stop.

    It may suck in other ways. It may be poorly implemented. It was definitely passed in a slackdash way.

    But you are wasting your life energy and merely looking irrational continuing to pursue this particular line of argument.

What this country needs is a good five cent microcomputer.

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