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Rollout rolled on despite warnings

End-to-end testing of the healthcare.com website started two weeks before the scheduled Oct. 1 rollout. During this test, several hundred people tried enrolling on the website, causing it to crash.

At this point, it should have been obvious to the Secretary of Human and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the website wasn’t ready for prime time. She adopted Admiral David Farragut’s philosophy of “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” and rolled out healthCare.gov as planned.

You know the result. The website crashed shortly after midnight when several thousand people tried to start the sign-up process.

Why wasn’t more time available for this critical test? Schedule slippages probably occurred because of problems with and specification changes to the website subsystems. This decreased the time available for testing because the president would never agree to change the rollout date. This would embarrass him and strengthen the House Republicans’ argument for delaying the individual mandate.

Secretary Sebelius has accepted responsibility for the rollout fiasco. That’s a noble gesture.

Does the Peter Principle apply to Secretary Sebelius? Has she risen to her level of incompetence?

I think she has. As Kansas’ governor she oversaw several disastrous information technology projects like the Department of Labor’s unemployment compensation computer overhaul and the update to the DMV’s computer.

All is not lost. President Barack Obama is now involved. He has assured us that the website problems will be resolved by Nov. 30. If they aren’t, I hope somebody has the courage to tell him.

Carl Schaefer

Amherst