At this point I can only speculate on the total cost to build out Healthcare.gov . . . . Based on the available data, however, a conservative estimate puts the cost so far at over $500 million . . . .
Given the complicated nature of federal contracts, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison between the cost to develop Healthcare.gov and the amount of money spent building private online businesses. But for the sake of putting the monstrous amount of money into perspective, here are a few figures to chew on: Facebook, which received its first investment in June 2004, operated for a full six years before surpassing the $500 million mark in June 2010. Twitter, created in 2006, managed to get by with only $360.17 million in total funding until a $400 million boost in 2011. Instagram ginned up just $57.5 million in funding before Facebook bought it for (a staggering) $1 billion last year. And LinkedIn and Spotify, meanwhile, have only raised, respectively, $200 million and $288 million . . . .
[T]he failure of Healthcare.gov isn’t because the people in our government are inept mouth-breathers who regard the work as a meaningless burden, but because the factors that play into which companies receive government contracts, a process called “procurement,” are fundamentally broken.
“Contracting officers – people inside of the government in charge of selecting who gets to do what work – are afraid of their buys being contested by people who didn’t get selected,” writes [a quoted software company]. “They’re also afraid of things going wrong down the line inside of a procurement, so they select vendors with a lot of ‘federal experience’ to do the work.”
And when things still go wrong, they simply throw “more money at the same people who caused the problem to fix the problem.”
Like Clark, I want to praise Couts for being a liberal who wants healthcare reform and the exchanges to succeed who’s also willing to call out shenanigans and waste. Liberals, I think, should be especially irritated by this kind of thing: as people who believe government can do good things for our society, we ought to be especially outraged by every tax dollar spent that doesn’t actually do that. A dollar spent wasted in an inefficient, ineffective website development process is a dollar that can’t go to schools, feeding the hungry, or, um… helping people get health care.