Verizon will be part of the Healthcare.gov "tech surge" that President Obama explained on Monday. The company's Enterprise Solutions division has been brought in to improve the site's performance, an anonymous source told USA Today.
On Sunday the Department of Health and Human Services released a statement saying they planned to bring in "some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team." Besides being the best and brightest (sorry, AT&T) Verizon has worked with Health and Human Services, as well as the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services. "They are people who already know the government process," Aneesh Chopra, the Obama administration's former chief technology officer, told USA Today.
Of course, several people—a mix of anonymous sources familiar with the situation and tech experts unfamiliar with the project—have doubted whether the problems with Healthcare.gov can be fixed in time to meet the December 15 registration deadline. Rusty Foster, a computer programer writing for The New Yorker, argued that bringing in new contractors might just slow things down. He wrote:
Can a "tech surge" work? In his seminal book on software project management, The Mythical Man-Month, Fred Brooks writes that "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." This is known as Brooks’s Law, and it is taken as gospel by programmers because it is usually true: it takes so much time for new coders to comprehend the system that they’re supposed to be fixing that typically it would have been faster not to include them at all.
However, Foster acknowledges that this particular project is made up of dozens of parts, from 55, different contractors. Despite Brook's Law, Healthcare.gov could be improved by several groups working together. This is just one in a string of government IT disasters, Foster notes, including the 10-year, billion-dollar revamp of the FBI website completed last year. The government might not learn from his disaster, but the site will get fixed. Eventually.