Skip to content

Obamacare – Ineffective Planning and Oversight – was ‘Agile’ to blame?

August 29, 2014

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO)  passes judgement on the botched implementation of the Obamacare website.

sick computerObamacare – healthcare website as sick as a parrot!

What the GAO had to say:

“When initial enrolment began on October 1, 2013, many users were unable to successfully access and use the website to obtain health insurance information due to problems such as website failures, errors, and slow response times.”

The contract to build the system was meant to follow ‘Agile’ good practice – what went wrong?

GAO conclude:

“To help manage compressed time frames, the officials adopted an iterative IT development approach called Agile that was new to (them). Agile development is a modular and iterative approach that calls for producing usable software in small increments, sometimes referred to as sprints, rather than producing a complete product in longer sequential phases. When development began in September 2011, they had limited experience applying an Agile approach … but still included sequential reviews and approvals and required deliverables at pre-determined points in the project.”

Not really ‘Agile’ then – eh?


GAO Obamacare cover

From → Agile Governance

  1. For those of you steeped in Agile methods, the significance of the comment above may be obvious. Any chance of expanding on it for those of us still developing our knowledge of the subject?

    • My take on this is that people are desperate for a quick fix, will often clutch at straws. CIOs often adopt ‘Agile’ in the hope that it can be used as a magic wand for faster IT development.

      It doesn’t make people programme any faster, it just ensures that they deliver valuable outputs on a regular basis that can be put live incrementally and piloted and rolled out when they work. It really is that simple. The Obamacare Website was not incrementally trialled, piloted etc., it just went live in one ‘big-bang’. Obviously this is risky, and so it proved…

      That is why I am leading the development of a (slim) guide to ‘Agile Governance’ – so that top management can start to exhibit agile behaviours. To see a draft click here:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: