The Health Connector Launch Was Worse Than You Could Even Imagine

Our good friend Ed Lyons took months to write a 30,000 word autopsy of the Connector Authority.  He has published it with a Creative Commons 4.0 license which means we can publish it here.  His original version can be found at this link.  I suggest going over to it.  Here is the summary and overview:

by Ed Lyons


This 31,000 word report covers the entire story of the troubled Massachusetts Health Exchange project, and provides expert commentary from an IT expert. It was created to help the public fully understand what happened, and why.

The bulk of the report is a timeline. This was done to show the difference between what was known internally, and what the public was aware of. It shows that severe problems with the exchange were hidden from the public all the way to the launch. Afterwards, the problems continued to be hidden, or were minimized. Worse, the government consistently put out false information about the project before, during, and after the launch. The report also aggregates newspaper stories about people who were harmed by problems renewing their health insurance, and points to previously unreported evidence that there are customer service logs at the health connector documenting how serious many of the problems were. The report comes to the following conclusion:

Our government was so proud of its health policies, and so worried about the image of the policy-makers, that it decided nothing else mattered as much: not good government, not sound management, not telling the truth, and not even the people who needed health care.

What’s new in this report

There have been many stories in the newspapers about episodes in this story, but these are items previously unreported:

* An analysis of unreported weekly and monthly audit showing that the project was in trouble from the very beginning, long before July of 2013, which the press discovered in January.

* A series of misleading and false claims in public documents from the Health Connector about the state of the exchange. These documents were published after they knew the failure of the exchange was “likely” yet they say that everything was fine, and that people would be getting features that the Connector leadership knew they would not be getting. The most absurd is the Health Connector annual report, which comes out weeks after the collapse, and says everything went great.

* A strong link to Governor Patrick’s cabinet. The Executive Director of the Health Connector, Glen Shor, leaves to becomes Chairman of the Board in January of 2013, and also joins Governor Patrick’s cabinet. Glen Shor is the previously unnoticed link between problems in the Connector to the Governor’s cabinet, making it hard to believe Patrick didn’t know about problems with the exchange.

* Numerous false or misleading statements to the public by Health Connector Excutive Director Jean Yang.

* Strong evidence that it was the government who was primarily at fault for the failure of the exchange.This is in contrast to the government’s repeated claim that it was almost entirely the fault of the primary vendor, CGI.

* Evidence that Governor Patrick’s statements about the exchange in January and February are at odds with what he was in a position to know. For example, he claims that the government didn’t know how bad the condition of the exchange was until late November. This is untrue.

* Evidence and commentary showing that the technical management of the exchange project was in violation of many standard practices and features utterly irresponsible decisions, such as launching a complex web application without any testing done by the users.

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