The Washington Post says that the programmers who built healthcare.gov are being fired (story). They are being replaced by Accenture, at $90 million per year for maintenance.
This does raise some questions…
- if the site works, how is it possible to spend $90 million each year on maintenance?
- if the site doesn’t work, absent spectacular incompetence by the old team, how will it be possible for a team of new programmers that has never looked at the source code to make progress at a more rapid rate, at least in the short run?
- how much is actually going to be spent if you could the salaries of federal government workers in addition to these contractors? And, rather than building this site, would it have been cheaper to fly all of the Americans who have successfully signed up to non-Medicaid plans via healthcare.gov over to France every time one of those folks needed a real medical intervention? (paying market/private rates in France for the services consumed)
- should we buy Accenture stock as a way of getting some of our tax dollars back? This chart shows that building Web sites for hundreds of millions of dollars is actually pretty profitable.
[Note that Google was funded with about $25 million that lasted five years, albeit supplemented by some ad revenue (source). Thus if the healthcare.gov project goes perfectly in 2014 it will be consuming cash at 18 times the rate that the world’s most rapidly growing company did.]