With the well covered healthcare.gov fiasco in it’s second full month and no relief in sight, certainly not before the self-imposed end of November deadline that the Obama Administration set for itself, I can’t help but think back to the President’s proclamation that he would bring the “best and brightest of Silicon Valley” to bear to fix it. With that earnest statement the President inadvertently put a spotlight on what is wrong with this system.
Why didn’t the government have the best and brightest on this for the 3 1/2 years they were building a website and supporting systems as a cost to taxpayers that dwarfs anything the biggest companies in the Valley have built? Silicon Valley is as much ideological as it is geographical and when you focus on the ideology no one can dispute that the best and brightest in the tech industry simply reject working in the bureaucracy of government, with arcane rules and protracted timelines that attract not the best and brightest but those that simply survive in the system. Silicon Valley doesn’t want your stinkin system.
Washington values rhetoric more than accomplishment and the lack of engineering excellence in government becomes an antibody for those that value engineering above rhetoric. You can put a shiny new website up but at the end of the day it is still the same ‘ol clunky government behind the scenes. and this is something that our Blackberry-toting President doesn’t seem to grasp, you can’t talk your way out of it when you are a generation or two behind the current state of the art.
What engineers know that lawyers and politicians often don’t is that in the world of things, as opposed to people, there’s no escaping the sharp teeth of reality. But in law, and especially politics, inconvenient facts are merely inconvenient, something to be rationalized away.