Nerdery uses health care glitches as cautionary tale - KMSP-TV

Nerdery uses health care glitches as cautionary tale

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) -

As government contractors testify about who is to blame for healthcare.gov's troubled launch, a web development firm in Bloomington, Minn., is watching to see what they can learn from the digital debacle.

On Thursday, contractors told lawmakers that the individual components of the site had been tested, but the government didn't check out the whole program until days before the launch.

Although the federal government's health care exchange operates separately from Minnesota's MNsure, even the local launch had a bumpy start. All the while, Adam Witter has been watching closely.

"How can I use this as a model since it's such a public thing?" Witter, of The Nerdery, asked.

According to Witter, the websites failures are not uncommon, they're just high-profile this time because uninsured Americans in 36 states are relying on it to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. So far, the site's been plagued by glitches.

"The developers are saying, 'You changed the feature requirements on us in a situation where we already had a short timeline,'" Witter paraphrased.

Witter also shared his take on the government's perspective.

"'Yes, we did that, but you guys didn't elevate this and tell us it couldn't be done,'" he role-played. "'You should have pushed back more and said this wasn't possible.'"

Witter said he believes the timeline set by contractors and government leaders led to many of the problems.

"Really, the accelerated timeline because of late-feature requirements being delivered to the contractors -- as well, there was not real chain of command," he theorized.

Now, he's trying to make sure his own clients don't ever ask him similar questions.

"There's probably plenty of blame to go around," he said. "Trying to learn from it."

Much more may be learned in the coming weeks as the Department of Health and Human Services starts to deliver daily briefings to explain the progress they're making toward fixing the website.

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