"When the realization of impending disaster finally hit government officials at the Aug. 27 meeting — just 34 days before the site went live — they threw out nearly 30 requirements, including the Spanish-language version of the site and a payment system for insurers to receive government subsidies for the policies they sold.
Even then, the system failed a test of only 500 simulated users in late September. Panicked, agency officials sent out an urgent order to almost double the system’s data capacity, technicians involved in the project have now confirmed. But the site was still down more than half the time in mid-October.
The acrimony between the Medicare agency and CGI had built steadily over the preceding months, the new interviews show. By late summer, teams of agency officials had parked themselves in CGI Federal’s headquarters in Herndon, Va., demanding on-the-spot reviews and demonstrations of new code that was never tested. Agency officials complained that CGI missed crucial deadlines and that it could not control other contractors, although the company said it had no power to do so.
CGI and other contractors complained of endlessly shifting requirements and a government decision-making process so cumbersome that it took weeks to resolve elementary questions, such as determining whether users should be required to provide Social Security numbers. Some CGI software engineers ultimately walked out, saying it was impossible to produce good work under such conditions.
“Cut corners, make date,” said one specialist, who like most of the people interviewed for this article would not allow his name to be used because the Obama administration has requested that all government officials and contractors involved keep their work confidential.” - Tension and Flaws Before Health Website Crash, NYT, 11/22/2013
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