Failure is always an option. Engineers work as hard as they do because they understand the risk of failure. And for anything it might have meant in its screenplay version, here that sentiment means the opposite; the unnamed executives were saying “Addressing the possibility of failure is not an option.”
He talks about what I call the suits vs. geeks divide. Recall that I originally coined this to describe the unwillingness of financial executives to listen to geeks who worried about the risk in mortgages.
When a large organization, such as government or a legacy media organization, undertakes a new initiative, they are in effect starting a new business. Most start-ups fail, so that failure is in fact the most likely outcome. But if you have spent your whole life playing office politics (or real politics) to get to the top of an established organization, you may not have had any training in dealing with something as fragile as a new enterprise.
If you start a new enterprise, it is a good idea to start small and build incrementally. In fact, that is how President Kennedy’s initiative to put a man on the moon was carried out.
But the health care law was designed to be big and complex from the beginning, and nobody wanted to allow for the possibility of failure. Even now, many progressives deny that it will fail. My sense is that the law is in fact a total failure, with the web site perhaps the least of its problems.