Failed website builder and Michelle Obama classmate slapped together mega-failure known as HealthCare.gov
October 28, 2013
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, writing for USA Today, asks why the federal government was capable of putting a man on the moon but unable to put up a functioning website.
“The 1960s space program, of course, is a classic example of big government doing something successfully: Promising to put men on the moon within a decade, and doing it,” writes Reynolds, who edits the Instapundit blog.
He mentions the Norris Dam, the first dam built by the Tennessee Valley Authority, as another admirable example of big government doing something that actually works.
Reynolds then enumerates the failures of big government, including the War On Poverty, the War On Drugs, the War On Cancer, all “pretty much failures, sometimes disastrous ones.”
He writes that “it remains indisputable that the federal government isn’t very good at delivering on big projects. The obvious response is to not entrust the federal government with big projects on which it can’t deliver. Instead, they should be left to those who can.”
As it turns out, however, the Obamacare website was built by a private sector company, CGI Federal.
The vice president of the company is Toni Townes-Whitley, a Princeton classmate of first lady Michelle Obama. It is hardly surprising to learn that Townes-Whitley is a former big government employee. She worked for the General Accounting Office and the Peace Corps.
Moreover, the president of the Canadian-based company, George Schindler, became an Obama 2012 campaign donor after his company gained the Obamacare website contract, according to The Daily Caller.
“As reported by the Washington Examiner in early October, the Department of Health and Human Services reviewed only CGI’s bid for the Obamacare account,” writes Patrick Howley.
“CGI was one of 16 companies qualified under the Bush administration to provide certain tech services to the federal government. A senior vice president for the company testified this week before The House Committee on Energy and Commerce that four companies submitted bids, but did not name those companies or explain why only CGI’s bid was considered.”
Adding more grist to this textbook example of crony capitalism, it was discovered the contract was lorded over by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services.
It turns out Ms. Sebelius is also a failed website builder.
As the governor of Kansas, “Sebelius oversaw numerous costly and disastrous government website projects during her six-year governorship (2003-2009), including a failed update of the Department of Labor’s program to provide unemployment pay and other services and similar updates pertaining to the Department of Administration and the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) services,” Howley wrote earlier this month.
The Obama administration’s failure to build a website is not necessarily an example of large and redundant government unable to perform tasks better accomplished by companies in the private sector. It is more accurately an example of crony capitalism and government-enforced monopolistic business practices that cost Americans billions of dollars every year.
Instead of focusing on the monopolistic aspect of the failed project, Democrats in Congress are sidestepping the issue and calling for more government failure.
“Right now everybody’s goal should be, let’s get this working. Let’s make sure that people can get the health care they want and need,” said New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. She said it is too early to assign blame for the disaster.
Republicans are calling for Sebelius to be sacked, but it is uncertain if the bureaucrat will lose her job.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has dispatched the “weed whacker,” Jeff Zients, to fix the smoldering wreck that is HealthCare.gov.
Zients, a onetime federal budget official and deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, is a former member of the board of directors of XM Satellite Radio. He also served on the boards of Revolution Health Group, Best Practices and Timbuk2 Designs.
“Let me be clear — HealthCare.gov is fixable,” he told reporters on a conference call set-up by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week.
The question that will undoubtedly be shuffled off to the memory hole will of course remain unaddressed: why was the project headed up by the demonstrable failure Sebelius and parceled out in what was essentially a no-bid contract to a former classmate of the president’s wife?