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HealthCare.gov All Over Again: Biden Overhauling Online Experience for 17 Federal Agencies.

United States Digital Service Admin, Who Botched Healthcare Rollout, to Spearhead.


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Key Points

  • President Biden has signed an Executive Order to overhaul the online experience for 17 Federal agencies.
  • The disaster that was HealthCare.gov is still fresh in the minds of Americans.
  • Bidens newest initiative involves engineers from the HealthCare.gov rollout.

HealthCare.gov launched in October of 2013 and was an immediate punchline for media outlets and late night wise guys. Then-Daily Show host Jon Stewart interviewing then-HHS Secretary quipped, “I’m going to try and download every movie ever made, and you’re going to try to sign up for Obamacare, and we’ll see which happens first.”

…back when the Daily Show was funny.

It may be slightly misleading to even claim the site “launched” in October 2013; it immediately crashed. Originally meant to cover 36 states that failed to create exchanges, the website buckled under the demand of a quarter million users – five times the amount anticipated. The site was down for 2 hours and only worked intermittently for months after. Experts claim it was a lack of experience, leadership and time restraints that led to the disaster.

Skip forward to today. President Biden has signed an Executive Order to update the online customer experience for 17 government services. Can we expect another HealthCare.gov? Maybe.

Here’s what the White House said in a statement:

“The President will sign an Executive Order, Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government, directing that Government leaders account for the experiences of the public in seeking Government services. The Executive Order includes 36 customer experience (CX) improvement commitments across 17 Federal agencies, all of which aim to improve people’s lives and the delivery of Government services.”

“We looked at the points of greatest friction for people with their government — filing taxes, applying for social security benefits, waiting in TSA lines — and focused on ways to reduce that friction,” Neera Tanden, senior adviser to the president, said on a call with reporters Monday.

“All of these actions are near term in nature, meaning that they will generally be completed in the coming months, within one year,” said Jason Miller, deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget.

“Near term in nature”? Sounds like a short development cycle for something that was just announced. Putting that aside for a moment —who’s in charge of this project?

“[The United States Digital Service] will be a significant asset in improving consumer experience with agencies, as they have done at the VA,” Tanden said of USDS. “In September, the White House said Mina Hsiang, an engineer who worked on the Healthcare.gov rollout, would become USDS administrator,” Protocol reports.

So Hsiang, who worked on one of the worst government rollouts in recent memory, is now in charge of bringing 17 government services online? Borrowing from Jon Stewart for a moment: I’m going to try and download every movie ever made, and you’re going to try to renew your passport online, and we’ll see which happens first.