Lessons from HealthCare.gov

Dateline: April 25, 2014

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius lost her job as the result of the disastrous HealthCare.gov project.  While no one expected her to actually write code and she certainly had some of the best IT advisors available to help manage the project, when the problems with the IT  became persisted, it was her credibility that suffered and her job that was lost.  Could things have been different?  Recently Information Week Editor, David Carr, commented on Ms. Sebelinus’s role in the failed IT project.

What could Kathleen Sebelius have done differently? She could have asked for the real story, the worst-case scenario, and pressed her subordinates to check with their subordinates on whether the project really was on track. She could have insisted on more checks on the process, or taken the audits that were done and raised red flags more seriously….

There’s a whole other blame game to be played about poor work by contractors and how those contracts were awarded, but that still boomerangs back to management oversight. There are always plenty of people to blame when an IT project craters. If you don’t want to be one of them, pay closer attention to the chain of command reaching all the way down to the people who really are writing the code.

When do you rely on your staff to manage a project and when should you get involved personally?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a nice weekend.


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