ACA's Healthcare.gov website 'didn't have a chance in hell'

Major commercial and government development projects routinely go over budget and fail to meet user expectations early on -- and that was the case with the ACA website.

Most large enterprise IT projects miss deadlines, go over budget and fail to make users happy, according to Standish Group research.

That was certainly true of Healthcare.gov, which stumbled badly after its Oct. 1 launch.

President Barack Obama says there's "no excuse" for the problems that have afflicted the website that people are supposed to use to shop for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Jeffrey Zients, a former management consultant appointed by the administration to fix Healthcare.gov, is promising to have all the remedial work done by the end of this month. But "it'll take a lot of work," he said. "There are a lot of problems that need to be addressed."

The troubled rollout shouldn't come as a surprise -- the early success rate for large, complex IT systems is very low.

And this particular initiative was extremely complex, experts say.

Healthcare.gov isn't just a website -- it has multiple interactions and interdependencies with data stored at other agencies and private-sector companies, said Lev Lesokhin, senior vice president at Cast, a software analysis and measurement firm. It's likely the site has 500,000 lines of code, he added.

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