Experts say the amount of information coursing through HealthCare.gov dwarfs that of any other government website, making it more similar to a high-traffic e-commerce operation such as Amazon.com or eBay. They contend the government didn't design the site with the kind of retail-like infrastructure it needs to keep up with demand and failed to knit its pieces together in an efficient way.
Curtis says visible parts of the website's programming code reveal a host of analytic and data coordination failures — a red flag that the site wasn't designed by people with a lot of experience building high-traffic websites. He notes that government projects are typically awarded to the lowest bid, a factor that limits the amount of money a contractor can make. As a result, bid-winners don't always assign their top people to those jobs.
Himanshu Sareen, CEO of Icreon Tech, a New York-based web and mobile design and development firm, says the government has made some progress fixing the site in recent weeks, but there are still big problems. He worries that the website is operating at half the capacity that it needs to.
Indeed, fewer than 27,000 people signed up for insurance through the federal website during the first month of open enrollment in the 36 states, according to federal health officials. Nearly 1 million more applied for coverage and were waiting to finalize decisions.
Sareen says he's shocked that so few people have been able to sign up. He says the government should focus on fixing the website's telephone support centers, the place where many frustrated insurance seekers are looking for help.
Michael Smith, a vice president of product development and operations for Compuware Corp., says the site's operations have improved significantly. Recent testing of HealthCare.gov's visible parts done by Compuware APM show seven states with unacceptable response times, down from 26 states on Oct. 25.