Obamacare Omen? Annals of Government Tech Failure

A serving military officer writes in with the following:

The sad thing is that this administration already had an example of a big web-based database failure, on a much smaller scale than Obamacare.  I’m a serviceman, and what I refer to is the DOD program known as Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, or DIMHRS. This program sought what would seemingly have been a straightforward goal: to merge all DoD personnel and pay management for all four military services – including Guard and Reserves – into a single system, vice the patchwork of disparate systems that serve each military service as well as each separate component of each service (Active Duty, Guard, Reserves).

Sounds simple, right?  Nope. Utter catastrophe. After years of work and hundreds of millions of dollars spent, Secretary of Defense Gates scrapped the whole system, famously quipping that “I would say that what we’ve gotten for a half billion dollars is an unpronounceable acronym.” The Army is bravely Soldiering on (no pun intended), continuing to try and roll out its own version of DIMHRS as the Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A), but is doing so in pieces over time.

The point is that if a comparatively small project like putting all military personnel into a single administrative and pay system proved impossible, what made the administration think that something infinitely more complex as Obamacare could be pulled off?

I’ve read separately that the British National Health Service also experienced a massive, multi-billion dollar IT debacle trying to consolidate patient information.  Hayek, call your office.


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