'Tech Surge' Ordered To Fix Stumbling Obamacare Site


After a slew of software struggles on Obamacare websites, the White House finally addressed the complications at a press conference Monday, avoiding specifics and saying only that the administration is working on fixing the problems with a so-called "tech surge."

Since its Oct. 1 launch date, the Affordable Care Act enrollment system's flagship site healthcare.gov has been plagued with problems and struggled to maintain up-time. Although first blamed exclusively on unexpected high traffic, posting 20 million hits to date on the main site, many of the problems were later attributed to underlying software problems.

"I think it's fair to say that nobody is more frustrated with it than I am. ... There's no excuse for the problems and these problems are getting fixed," President Barack Obama said in his press conference speech Monday morning.

 

[Related: Software Problems Cripple Federal Healthcare System Rollout]

The Department of Health and Human Services, the department in charge of the site, announced over the weekend a "tech surge" to identify problems, solve them and implement further testing going forward.

"We are doing everything we can possibly do to get the websites working better, faster, sooner. We got people working overtime, 24/7, to boost capacity and address the problems. Experts from some of America's top private-sector tech companies, who, by the way, have seen things like this happen before, they want it to work. They're reaching out. They're offering to send help. We've had some of the best IT talent in the entire country join the team. And we're well into a tech surge to fix the problem. And we are confident that we will get all the problems fixed," Obama said in his speech.

Companies such as AppDynamics have already offered its programs to the site to help diagnose problems and get it up and running more smoothly, though the company hasn't said if the government has accepted its offer or not. "It's encouraging to see the President address these issues head-on, bringing in the effort and attention needed to fix these quickly. There is no doubt that the launch of an online consumer-facing property of this magnitude is complicated and challenging, and tuning and fixing the underlying software code will take a good amount of effort. AppDynamics works with 1,000s of the world's most visited websites and we remain committed to help the government with whatever assistance we can provide to fix these problems," said AppDynamics founder and CEO Jyoti Bansal in an email.

The government has asked the main contractor of the site, CGI Group, to increase staff hours and put its best people on the job, according to a Bloomberg report. CGI was reportedly paid more than $93 million to assemble the software for the site.

"CGI teams, along with CMS and its other contractors, are working around the clock toward the improvement of healthcare.gov, a system that is complex, ambitious and unprecedented. We remain confident in our ability to deliver continuous improvement in system performance and a more positive user experience," said Linda Odorisio, vice president of U.S. communications for CGI, in an emailed statement to CRN.

The website's problems are not the contractor's first struggle. As the Washington Examiner reported, the Ontario government fired the group after missing three years of deadlines on a medical registry program.

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