Newly released documents reveal that the Obama administration had private consultants from McKinsey & Co. perform an evaluation of the HealthCare.gov website’s progress in late March. McKinsey’s analysis wasn’t good and the Health and Human Services Department and White House knew of the issues back then. But six lessons revealed in the document risk getting lost in the politics of the website’s rollout. More than a pawn in a Republican vs. Democrat chess game, HealthCare.gov is a case study for all future web development clients on how to not build a website. Here are six reasons why, from Page 5 of the McKinsey analysis:
Evolving requirement: HHS was ill prepared to hand their vendors the requirements and information needed to build HealthCare.gov. HHS was still giving developers its requirements during the site design and construction phase, and even after. This means the designers and developers had to create and recreate graphics and code with every new requirement that the HHS handed them. They had no consistent road map with which to work.
Multiple definitions of success: There was no universal, cohesive definition of what the final HealthCare.gov website was to be when it launched. This should have been one of the easier decisions for HHS and the White House to make since they knew that the website wasn’t fully operational.
Significant dependency on external contractors: HealthCare.gov had at least four major contractors: CGI Federal, QSSI, Serco and Equifax. That means HHS was listening to at least four opinions on how things should be done. In actuality, CGI Federal should have been the final decision maker on functionality. Additionally, since contractors also hire out to other contractors on big projects, there could possibly have been eight-plus entities working on this site at once. This many entities working on the same project can easily break it down.
Parallel “stacking” of all phases: There is a reason designer and developers require all content and information before starting the design phase of a website. Designers need that information to make the wireframes, interface and navigation optimal while developers need it to map out the best programming path. Both need all the necessary information beforehand to guarantee they choose the best industry practices to build the website’s components. Poor planning and preparation by a client can kill a project. Poor planning significantly reduces productivity and often drastically increases costs.
Insufficient time and scope of end-to-end testing: So HHS had a website cobbled together by numerous contractors with different visions of success and no clear end goal. Add in that HHS was still giving its contractors additional requirements for the site well past the planning stage. Welcome to a testing nightmare. The contractors likely weren’t testing the site because HHS was still feeding them information, which would mean they would have to retest all over again after implementing the new requirements. Because of these add-ons, testing became an afterthought.
Launch at full volume: McKinsey’s analysts knew HealthCare.gov would be a disaster back in March and thought it a fool’s errand to try launching the full website, especially after seeing the development nightmare. They even point out specific problem areas to HHS and the White House on page 15 of their presentation, and call for an end to scope creep – those additional requirements – until version 2.0.
McKinsey’s analysts noted that CGI Federal was trying to make things work as of the end of March, but obviously CGI Federal’s efforts weren’t enough. CGI isn’t responsible for that though: A lack of client planning will always kill a product.
This website’s failure falls on the shoulders of HHS and the White House. They had two full years to plan this site but they failed miserably to do basic planning and research to make the initial launch a success. It is clear through this assessment that the current administration created this horrific mess themselves and their contractors have little responsibility for this technology train wreck.
Stephan Hilbelink is a website designer and developer with the Family Research Council.
Among those who have just received the Medal of Freedom from President Obama is Gloria Steinem, who has done as much for advancing abortion-on-demand as any single person in the last half century.
In an interview with The Washington Post, she said, “Approximately one in three women in this country needs an abortion at some time in her life”. Aside from the dubiousness of this statistic, note that she uses the term “needs.”
Needs? Laura Enriquez has written convincingly on abortion as a preferential, not medically necessary, condition. What is clear is that what passes for “need” in the world of Ms. Steinem is actually the desire of a woman in a difficult or inconvenient situation to end a pregnancy.
This is not to say that women make such decisions lightly. Rather, human nature (male and female) being what it is, if a legal option is presented by which one can alleviate something hard, it defies the experience of recorded history that most people will not take it. The roughly 55 million unborn children aborted since 1973 within the 50 states are a grim but irrefutable evidence of that claim.
Here is what Steinem has said about the abortion she had 57 years ago:
It [abortion] is supposed to make us a bad person. But I must say, I never felt that. I used to sit and try and figure out how old the child would be, trying to make myself feel guilty. But I never could! I think the person who said: “Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament” was right. Speaking for myself, I knew it was the first time I had taken responsibility for my own life. I wasn’t going to let things happen to me. I was going to direct my life, and therefore it felt positive. But still, I didn’t tell anyone. Because I knew that out there it wasn’t [positive].
Consider her almost unspeakably painful assertion, that “taking responsibility for (one’s) own life” includes taking a life that is not your own. Commentary about such a proposition would be superfluous.
Ms. Steinem has received our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom. Yet she remains trapped in her own blindness, a state in which there is no freedom whatever. Christians should pray that in her waning years, she would come to know the true freedom that a forgiving and loving Savior alone can offer.
This week, voters in Albuquerque (ABQ) voted no on a local ordinance proposal that would have banned abortions past 20 weeks gestation, the age at which we know preborn children can feel pain. If passed, the ordinance would have protected countless women and children from the barbaric practice of late-term abortion in what many have called the late term capitol of the United States. The United States is one of only four countries in the world that permit the brutal practice for any reason.
This measure, although defeated, served an inestimably important educational function. The hard work that was put into the measure was not in vain. Due to efforts such as these, people are waking up to the fact that abortion necessarily involves two lives and that late term abortion is an unnecessary evil. In fact, 64% of Americans support banning the practice of late-term abortion. We must build on this effort in ABQ and begin to introduce similar legislation in cities across the country. These efforts go a long way towards exposing the truth about abortion. They also force those who support the heinous practice to defend themselves in light of the reality that abortion causes excruciating pain to the preborn child and is dangerous for the mother.
Also this week, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency stay of the Texas law that requires abortionists to obtain admitting privileges in local hospitals. The denial of stay indicates that the Fifth Circuit’s refusal to enjoin the law pending a decision on the merits is not clearly erroneous. Thus, the Texas law will remain in effect until the Fifth Circuit has decided the case on its merits. As Ken Klukowski noted, the dissent in this decision indicated that it is likely that the Court will take up this case eventually. If it does, this will be the first abortion case taken up by the Court since 2007.
Meanwhile, the federal Unborn Child Pain Capable Protection Act, which handily passed the House in June, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.). The bill is expected to generate a spirited debate if permitted to come to a vote. Introduction of such bills and public debate is essential to a robust Republic. The American people deserve to know the truth about abortion and must be allowed to express their will through their representatives. The will of the people was suppressed by the Court in 1973 with the decision in Roe v. Wade, but recent legislative movements to restrict abortion across the country show that even 40 years later, the people are still fighting for their right to be heard on the issue.
Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) appeared on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” to give an update into Congress’s investigation into the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups:
“We want to let the American people know that we have not forgotten about the IRS abuses of grassroots American organizations and to remind everybody of what’s going on. We haven’t stopped our oversight in Congress of this issue, Benghazi, Fast and Furious or some of the other abuses of the Obama Administration. With respect to the IRS matter, we just want to let the American people know that we still hear them and they still have a voice up here,” said Flores.
Flores said many of the investigations that Congress is involved in should be further along than they are currently. “The administration is slow-playing us on every request for information. In some cases, we have had to issue subpoenas to get the information we’ve requested. In some cases, we’ve had to hold some folks in contempt.”
Flores believes that the IRS investigation will follow a similar track, “We’ll have to issue subpoenas to compel the administration to produce information and ultimately, we may have to hold some people in contempt of Congress to get to the bottom of this matter.”
“And when I say get to the bottom,” Flores continues, “I mean that we want to know who knew what and who told the IRS to target these grass roots organizations so that we can hold those people accountable. And of course the ultimate objective is to make sure it never happens again.”
The IRS’s targeting of grass roots organizations is part of a larger pattern of abuse and cover-ups and scandals that have come out of this administration. According to Flores, “The IRS is just one of many problems that comes out of an administration that doesn’t believe in a rule of law.”
Go to this article in Forbes by Gordon Chang who reports on China’s coming demographic cratering. China’s fertility rate has declined from 5.9 under Deng to 1.4 presently with the advent of the brutal one-child policy. As Chang explains, the recently announced population-control policy changes will allow a modest number more urban dwellers to have two children. However, this minor adjustment is not going to be rolled out quickly. Perhaps, the greatest resistance to population policy change lies in the fact that the family planning police represent the Communist Party’s strongest control over the populace. Thus, the Party will be deeply reluctant to relax its grip on that nation even though population decline is rapidly approaching. You can also listen to this excellent interview of Chang by John Batchelor. Go to the player and start at 31:00.
President Obama has declined to go to Gettysburg for the 150th anniversary of the Emancipator’s great address. It is altogether fitting and proper that he should do this. The comparisons that would inevitably have been made with Lincoln’s elegaic prose would not have been kind.
This president has said that wherever he goes is Obama Country. So, for now, that hallowed ground will be spared. Lincoln spoke to the eternal verities of the laws of nature and of nature’s God when he described this nation as one conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Lincoln would later tell listeners in Baltimore, in a less noted speech, that the world stands in need of a good definition of liberty. He compared the differing views of the shepherd’s wielding his crook to drive the wolf from the sheep’s throat. The sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator. The wolf thinks himself deprived, his liberty infringed.
Cornelia Pillard, President Obama’s nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, was rejected this week by the Senate in a 56-41 cloture vote. Pillard’s radical views were not considered an appropriate fit for one of the nation’s most powerful courts that rules on administration orders and regulations and from which some judges ultimately become Supreme Court justices.
A professor at Georgetown University Law Center, Cornelia “Nina” Pillard is spreading her radical viewpoints to the young people under her tutelage. As a student in her class, one might hear her expounding on abstinence-only sex education as being unconstitutional. Or, she might be complaining that ultrasound images are deceptive images of a fetus as an autonomous entity. Of course, it is well understood that ultrasound images do show an autonomous being, albeit a dependent one. The images depict a fetus that is just too dependent and too human for Cornelia Pillard’s liking.
Pillard has also written that abortion is necessary to “free” women “from historically routine conscription into maternity,” a view that certainly does not resonate with the vast majority of moms who consider motherhood a sacred honor and privilege. We can breathe a sigh of relief that sanity prevailed and the Senate rejected this nominee who compares motherhood to the draft.
It is time to move on from Pillard’s negative legal views of pregnancy and the need to destroy the unborn to a more positive conversation about protecting babies in utero who have been shown to feel pain after 20 weeks from fertilization. Twelve states have now passed fetal pain bills banning abortion after 20 weeks. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that also bans late abortion has passed in the House of Representatives, and Sen. Lindsay Graham has introduced the companion bill in the Senate with 41 co-sponsors. When it comes to babies, protection trumps destruction!
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Adult stem cells are living evidence that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139). FRC’s prestigious Dr. David Prentice, who leads our adult stem initiative, has just released a moving new video, “Adult Stem Cell Success Story - Terry Killman.”
Terry was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia almost three years ago. Even though Terry’s cancer was diagnosed early, it escalated dramatically. At one point, his oncologist told him he had to start treatment immediately or be dead within days.
An adult stem cell transplant from Terry’s brother, Vic, saved his life. Terry’s wife, Michelle, says “And to know now what they’re doing with adult stem cells is absolutely amazing.” Now the former Navy engine man is back to college studying to be a teacher, and fishing with his grandson. As Terry says, “If it wasn’t for the love of my family, I wouldn’t be here. We’re very tight. You trust in God to carry you through, because between family and faith, you’ve got to have both to survive.”
We can save lives through ethical adult stem cell research and treatment. Join FRC in this vital effort by going to StemCellResearchFacts.org.
Rob Schwarzwalder Senior Vice President Family Research Council
P.S.Watch Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe describe a conservative alternative to Obamacare, which he shared at FRC this week.
“We didn’t believe that this law was going to be helpful or that promises would be kept. We knew healthcare was going to get more expensive and people were going to have fewer benefits.”
The Department of Health and Human Services recently released the number of people who have registered for an Obamacare exchange health insurance plan. The current number of those enlisted is far lower than the administration’s projected numbers.
“We could easily have a market-based competitive model [of healthcare] that brings in the private sector so that these health insurance plans could be something that people want to buy and might be able to afford.”
Shimkus said the problem with Obamacare is that people cannot tell what services are provided by the various health care policies, even though policies are required by law to list the services provided. One service people are particularly concerned about is whether plans they buy cover abortion.
“If you go to the plans and they don’t say that, then you’ve got some adamant pro-life constituents of mine trying to go on an exchange plan, but they don’t know if their money is going to cover abortion or abortion services, which they do not want their money to go to,” Shimkus said.
He added, “According to polling, this president is losing credibility day by day. When you lose credibility or trust of the American people, you are in real trouble. It’s embarrassing for the chief executive of this country to be equivocating and misdirecting and redefining issues.”
Family Research Council (FRC) hosted U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) today for a webcast lecture to present an overview of the Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) comprehensive alternative to Obamacare.
Rep. Roe represents the First Congressional District of Tennessee. He earned a degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Austin Peay State University and went on to earn a Medical Degree from the University of Tennessee. Upon graduation, he served two years in the United States Army Medical Corps. Rep. Roe practiced medicine as an OB/GYN for 31 years and is a member of the Physicians’ Caucus and the Health Caucus. Rep. Roe serves on two congressional committees, Education and the Workforce and Veterans’ Affairs.