- Price tag is six and a half times higher than original $94million contact
- Contractor CGI Federal built the site and demanded more money from the government as costs soared
- Only a handful of Americans have been able to sign up for the health insurance exchanges on Healthcare.gov
- Site still is issuing error messages when users try to sign in
The federal government has spent $634million on the Obamacare website – more than it cost to build Facebook or Twitter, it was revealed today.Despite the massive bill to taxpayers, the Healthcare.gov still doesn’t work properly ten days after it was launched – allowing only a handful of Americans to sign up for plans on the insurance exchange market.
And experts warn that the site is likely to continue to experience significant glitches for months to come as engineers work out the bugs they failed to to spot before the site went live on October 1.
The price tag for the broken healthcare site is more than six and a half times higher than what the government initially meant to pay.
In 2011, the Obama Administration agreed to pay contractor CGI Federal $93.7million to build, launch and maintain Healthcare.gov.
In the two and years since CGI Federal won the bid to build the Obamacare site, the company requested more and more money to cover cost over-runs. And the federal government had agreed.
Experts say the site has dramatic problems with the back-end architecture has resulted in servers becoming overloaded and bogging down. But the interface is also a problem. Much of the site contains grammatical and typographical errors. Java Script errors prevent pages from loading correctly in browsers.
Even more infuriating, Andrew Couts of Digital Trends points out, is the fact that much larger, more successful sites have been built for far less money.
Facebook operated for its six years, until June 2010, on less than $600million in outside funding – a acquiring more than half a billion users and more than 130million monthly unique page views.
Twitter, founded in 2006, operated on $360million in investment until 2011 – when servers were processing more than 140million tweets a day.
The professional social network LinkedIn built a base of more than 230million users with $200million in funding.
The Washington Post reports that 4.7million people tried to log onto the site in the first 24 hours.
But, the government has refused to release traffic number for Healthcare.gov since.
On Thursday, the site allowed visitors to create a username, but was not allowing log-ins.
Digitial Trends points out that it’s not as though the United States of is short on talent when it comes to developing online software – Americans invested the Internet itself, after all.
CGI Federal has refused to comment on the glitches and why Healthcare.gov has failed to work – or when full service might be restored.
The Department of Better Technology, a federal contractor that competes with CGI Federal, sheds some insight into why the Healthcare.gov contract might have failed so spectacularly.
‘That cancer is called “procurement” and it’s primarily a culture driven cancer one that tries to mitigate so much risk that it all but ensures it. It’s one that allowed for only a handful of companies like CGI Federal to not only build disasters like this, but to keep building more and more failures without any accountability to the ultimate client: us,’ the company wrote in an op-ed posted on its site.
On top of promoting mediocrity, the federal procurement system also weighs down site developers with 6,500 pages of registration and regulation for contractors.
Those restriction ensure that ‘very few new businesses can compete for contracts, and the ones that do end up becoming specialists in those regulatory burdens, not in doing the right thing,’ the Department of Better Technology says.