Emanations from Planet DC. HealthCare.gov is ‘teachable moment’


Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel spouts perky inanities about the wonderfulness of healthcare.gov and is so clueless about software development it makes my head hurt.

I present to you this gem of confusion.

“We should all be proud of the fact that something this complex, this integrated to legacy systems — and there are mainframes out there this thing hooks to — was done at Internet scale and taken online in this way. Just the fact that we have transactions moving between agencies using open data, using modular development, using technology in a way that moves really from a 19th and 20th Century government paper approach to an online approach is something we all should be proud of,” VanRoekel said.

Oh my God, you mean the online healthcare.gov can actually talk to mainframes? This staggering new development has only been going on since, oh, shortly after the birth of the Internet. Modular development of software, which he thinks is cutting edge, has been around for 50 years or so. I’ve no clue what he means by ‘open data.’ I suspect he means ‘open source.’ For the head techie of the US government to not even get that basic concept and jargon correct in deeply troubling. And ‘Internet scale” is…?

He also said it was “a teachable moment for government,” but not apparently in the sense that government has something to learn from the disastrous rollout of healthcare.gov, but that they should congratulate themselves for the awesomeness of healthcare.gov.

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