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White House Reportedly Dismissing Key Contractor 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the assigning-blame dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Months after a problem-riddled rollout of the Website, the White House is dismissing a key contractor, CGI Federal, that built much of the portal, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper suggested the federal government is on the verge of signing a new contract with a replacement, Accenture, which has some experience in building online health-insurance portals on the state level. 'We are in discussions with potential clients all the time but it is not appropriate to discuss with the media contracts we may or may not be discussing,' an Accenture spokesperson is quoted as saying. Unnamed sources 'familiar with the matter' informed the Post of CGI Federal's dismissal, and suggested that it has much to do with continuing anger over the botched introduction of, as well as the pace of continuing repairs to the Website. As their contract is due to expire anyway at the end of February, government officials reportedly decided that it was the perfect time to pull the plug with a minimum of legal ramifications."
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White House Reportedly Dismissing Key Contractor

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  • Accenture? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:36PM (#45919797)

    Holy fucking shit we're fucked.

  • by 3seas (184403) on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:39PM (#45919837) Journal

    You can add another 9 months or more to allow whatever new contractor to take over the code base or start anew. And by the time, if ever, it is fully functional we can be sure the direction will have changed again.

    What I'd like to know is which taxpayers agreed on spending their taxes on this? The only citizens I found supporting this are those who do not pay income taxes.

  • Hmmm ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:40PM (#45919847)

    And the next question is will these guys do any better?

    I've been involved in contracting with governments, and failures of projects are as often as not caused by the incompetence of the government people and their inability to understand what they want, but then blamed on the contractors who couldn't make the system do what it needed.

    As is always the case, some times the devil is in the details, and just because the project failed, doesn't mean the people blamed for it actually were the ones who made the project fail.

    Sometimes, it just means it's easier to blame the contractor, when in fact the client was completely inept.

  • by Noishkel (3464121) on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:42PM (#45919875)
    ... but I don't think firing everyone in charge of a massive project does a lot of good when it you're trying to make it work.
  • by buswolley (591500) on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:45PM (#45919903) Journal
    Taxes don't pay for Federal expenditures. That is a fallacy that is all too common.
  • by EMG at MU (1194965) on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:48PM (#45919951)
    Who cares if they get dismissed a few weeks before their contract expired. Do they still get paid for the steaming pile of shit they created? Absolutely. Will they continue to get government contracts after this blows over? Absolutely.

    This is a PR move.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:49PM (#45919959) Homepage

    ... but I don't think firing everyone in charge of a massive project does a lot of good when it you're trying to make it work.

    No, but it gives the impression that you're Trying to Fix It.

    My question is "how much will change?" How much of this can be laid at the feet of the contractor, and how much was more of a symptom of the inability of the feds to handle the project? Because I've dealt with clients who essentially made a successful project impossible, and then groused when they didn't get a successful project (as if we could force them to do what was needed, but they ignored or failed to actually do).

    I don't always assume that just because they say "it was all their fault" that it was actually the case. Sometimes, it's people covering their own asses making the claim.

    Most especially where governments are concerned.

  • Re:Accenture? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:51PM (#45919991)

    There is nothing wrong with the IIS platform. Accenture is the issue. The vast majority of their PM team cannot find their dick with both hands.

  • Re:Accenture? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:55PM (#45920041) Homepage

    They bring in the "top tech talent" for the initial meetings, then bill you the same rates for a horde of junior incompetents, and you never see that senior talent again.

    But, really, do you see this as different from any IT organization/software company you've dealt with?

    The early enthusiasm and usefulness drops off pretty quick once the deal is signed and the sales guys get their commission checks.

    And then you have the people wondering how the hell to implement a flying car and deliver on the unicorns which were promised by the sales guys.

    I've certainly been on the receiving end of this from Oracle and a few others.

    The problem is the people who chase the deals and carefully craft the responses to make it look like you've solved the problem. In a lot of cases, it's basically a shell game.

  • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday January 10, 2014 @04:04PM (#45920143) Journal

    You are correct, but hiring a contractor with some rather spectacular failures (and numerous smaller ones) isn't exactly going to fix that...

  • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CubicleZombie (2590497) on Friday January 10, 2014 @04:18PM (#45920299)

    Sometimes, it just means it's easier to blame the contractor, when in fact the client was completely inept.

    Think about the worst requirements you've ever had to deal with. Now imagine 2700 pages of even worse requirements written by CONGRESS. Then throw Obama in the mix, issuing Executive Orders that change the system at every turn.

  • Re:Accenture? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Friday January 10, 2014 @04:20PM (#45920333) Journal
    Accenture might actually deliver the "top tech talent," at least for the first year. They would be foolish not to, with such a high-profile (and expensive!) contract on the line.
  • Re:Accenture? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fbumg (632974) on Friday January 10, 2014 @04:29PM (#45920421)
    I can only speak from personal experience, but to me the big difference is that IBM is at least technically competent. I guess as an opponent of Obamacare I should be happy, as this will undoubtedly allow the problems to continue. But I feel for the people that may be depending/hoping for this to come together. Accenture? Really?
  • by CyberLeader (106732) on Friday January 10, 2014 @04:29PM (#45920423) Homepage

    When you're tired of screwing it up like amateurs, bring in Accenture so you can screw it up like professionals!

    My firm has made a lot of money cleaning up Accenture's disasters. It's a living.

    So while Accenture was originally based in Bermuda, they've since moved their corporate HQ to Ireland. Could we at least pick a vendor incorporated in the U.S.?

  • Re:Accenture? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gregor-e (136142) on Friday January 10, 2014 @05:12PM (#45920917) Homepage
    No, it's that the first few weeks of a project, the people they send are actually pretty sharp, enough to make you wonder if maybe you should float a resume over there, since they're billing outrageous gobs for these sharp people, and, hell, if you only got half of that hourly rate it'd still be a good jump up. Then, one by one, they sub out the sharp people with complete drones who require tons of hand-holding and who make n00b mistakes that inevitably slow down the rate of progress. Conveniently, this allows them to bill even more hours at the same top-talent rate you were envious of. Your company ends up paying $200/hr for $20/hr talent, and pays for more hours of this crappy talent to boot.

    Anyone who contemplates renting talent from one of these big consultancy firms would do well to insist on naming specific individual developers in the contract, and add a performance penalty that multiplies the hourly billing rate by MIN(1.0, HOURS_QUOTED / HOURS_BILLED). That will prevent subbing in third-stringers billed at first-stringer rates and will provide diminishing returns for dilatory behavior, as well as incentivize them to think of everything that must be done before committing to a quote.
  • Classmate != Buddy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:14PM (#45922669) Homepage Journal

    Nobody's ever shown they are actually "buddies". Prominent Republicans have also gone to the same school at the time, and probably bumped into them at times. Does that make them "cronies" also? Let's not sling mud without solid evidence.

"Life is a garment we continuously alter, but which never seems to fit." -- David McCord