Pinpoint the Scandal

The Sunlight Foundation reports,

All but one of of the 47 contractors who won contracts to carry out work on the Affordable Care Act worked for the government prior to its passage. Many–like the Rand Corporation and the MITRE Corporation–have done so for decades. And some, like Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, are among the biggest wielders of influence in Washington. Some 17 ACA contract winners reported spending more than $128 million on lobbying in 2011 and 2012, while 29 had employees or political action committees or both that contributed $32 million to federal candidates and parties in the same period. Of that amount, President Barack Obama collected $3.9 million.

I don’t hold it against the contractors that they had prior government experience. I don’t hold it against them that they lobby or contribute to campaigns.

To me, the scandal is that there are 47 different organizations involved in building the site. I cannot imagine that any sane project executive would want it that way. I am just guessing, but it seems more likely to me that this many contractors were imposed on the project executive because there was a requirement to “spread the work out” to keep all these companies in the politicians’ pockets.

In any case, if you are trying to fix something that was assembled by 47 different organizations….good luck with that. Megan McArdle considers the possibility that it won’t get fixed in time.

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3 Responses to Pinpoint the Scandal

  1. Daublin says:

    Following the link, it’s not just the insanely complicated software project. An additional problem is that–like with Frank-Dodd–it is taking a very long time to figure out exactly what the rules are. Megan quotes:

    “As late as the last week of September, officials were still changing features of the Web site,, and debating whether consumers should be required to register and create password-protected accounts before they could shop for health plans.”

    That strikes me as a relatively basic part of the requirements.

  2. Floccina says:

    contract winners reported spending more than $128 million

    Was that written by a computer programmer? Why not more that $100 million?

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