Congress can do two things in response to the HIM failure. It can use it to score political points to attack the Affordable Care Act and the Obama Administration. Or it can utilize the opportunity to drive real reform in federal IT contracting and management. Let us hope that they don’t overlook the latter.
Learning from Our IT Failures
One can’t pass a single day without seeing coverage of the failure of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace, HIM. It is not surprising the website had problems, but more that people are shocked it did. The current process of managing and acquiring federal IT is largely broken and the HIM example is just another in a long line of high-profile IT failures such as the delayed launch of USAjobs.gov and the Census Bureau’s handheld PC debacle. To address this we must reform federal policy to improve procurement, managements and oversight of government IT.
The Department of Commerce Should Establish an Office of Data Innovation
While President Obama has signed an historic executive order on open data and various government agencies have begun to promote data-driven innovation within their communities, such as the successful Health Datapalooza, there is still no federal government agency responsible for developing and implementing a national strategy to promote data-driven innovation across all sectors of the economy. To help fill this void, the Department of Commerce should establish an Office of Data Innovation.