White House has plans to prevent another Healthcare.gov

By Carl Franzen


In the wake of the glitch-ridden launch of the US government’s online health insurance marketplace, the Obama Administration is reportedly considering loosening the requirements for hiring federal tech workers and establishing a special agency to oversee future tech projects, according to The Wall Street Journal. No final plan has been crafted, but several broad new efforts are being considered, including giving government agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — the agency responsible for the error-prone Healthcare.gov website — the ability to engage in “direct hiring” of software developers.


Currently, federal agencies are required to sift through multiple job candidates for tech hires and give preference to veterans, among other requirements. They also have up to 80 days to make a decision, but the White House wants to speed that process up. The White House is also said to be evaluating the idea of having government tech workers “rotate through private-sector companies.” But as The Journal notes, there are other labor issues ingrained in the federal tech workforce that may make it difficult to attract private-sector talent even if any of these proposals go into effect, including more sporadic funding, an older employee base, and the perception that the workplace culture doesn’t support innovative tech ideas. But given how poorly Healthcare.gov performed at first, it’s understandable why the White House would be looking at options outside the current system.


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