Why The Experts Are Probably Wrong About The Healthcare.gov Crack-Up

John Pavley | Huffington Post | October 7, 2013

Many technology experts are blaming the software behind Healthcare.gov for all the problems Americans have encountered while trying to sign up for health insurance in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.

That's not how I see it.

A look at Healthcare.gov's source code, on its own and through a couple of Google's performance-analysis tools, tells the story of a rush job, a website that seemed to start with the best of technical intentions but was opened to the public before it was ready.

You can supposedly find the software that powers Healthcare.gov on a publicly available GitHub.com repository. But it's a sanitized repository: All of the development history is missing. There is just one massive check-in of the code, called an "initial commit," which was uploaded three months ago. This indicates that, despite all the hoopla and Jekyll, a very innovative approach to scaling a website to accommodate thousands of requests per second by transferring most of work from the server to the user's browser. Theoretically, Jekyll harnesses the power of the user's computer and takes the load off the government servers. The other technical components of Healthcare.gov are just as innovative: Bootstrap, jQuery, Backbone.js, Underscore and JSON. These are not the old-fashioned horseless carriages of the Internet, they are the technological equivalent of the Tesla Model S and the Toyota Prius.