A View from the Inside

I received an email yesterday afternoon from a reader who did not want to leave it as a comment because his name and email might be attached to it by Disqus.  Here it is:

I’m long-time reader and sometime commenter. I wanted to comment on your post on “Government is Magic”, but for reasons which will become obvious I didn’t want my name or e-mail associated with my comment publicly. If you believe any of this is worth sharing feel free to do so, without my name or e-mail address associated of course.

I work for the company responsible for the Obamacare web site fiasco. I don’t work for the Federal division, but a different one. I can tell you from personal experience that the problems that caused the web site to fail are institutional.

If you or I were going to embark on a project we’d try to get the most competent people in each area of expertise required in an effort to make the project a success. That’s not the way this company does things. First, especially if the project is highly visible, they make sure that the people assigned to the project are the “right” people. Not “right” as you or I would understand it, namely competent, with a strong work ethic, and capable of delivering. Oh no, the “right” people are politically connected, they belong to the “correct” groups of people, or they’re people who others wish to see advance (often despite their incompetence). So it’s more important that the project leader be a Hispanic woman than that the project leader have any actual experience with the technology, or even be capable of doing the job. Just as it was more important to give the project to a company whose VP was a black woman than that it have a proven track record of getting similar projects done successfully. All the better if that VP went to Princeton with a certain FLOTUS. Even better if money went to a certain re-election campaign.

A dozen competent developers could have delivered a functional web site, their compensation would have cost one or two percent of what the contract brought in. Doing so, however, would have required an acknowledgement that such people were required for the success of the project, or that a functional web site had anything to do with such success.

I used to think the problems I saw were localized to my little corner of the company, but it seems the problems are with the company mentality. Worse, as far as the company is concerned this was a big win. They made a TON of money, and they’re managing (so far as the media is concerned) to foist the blame off onto others. They’ll now make a ton MORE money fixing a system that should never have been broken in the first place.

I’ve been doing this for over 25 years, I’ve worked for a bunch of companies, and this is the first time I’ve ever been ashamed to have my name connected to the company that writes my paycheck.

Shame? I thought the Left had effectively destroyed that concept.

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