Alum writes piece about healthcare website problems

Harper Reed ’01, former Chief Technology Office for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, co-wrote a piece for the New York Times about why the government’s healthcare exchange site is an example of bad government coding.

Harper Reed ’01
Harper Reed ’01

Reed, along with Clay Johnson,  lead programmer for Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign and the chief executive officer of the Department of Better Technology, wrote about why the highly-publicized problems with, the  site created to let people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, is one of the 94 percent of large government technology projects that have been unsuccessful in the past 10 years. The article notes:

“Nearly 20 million Americans, in fact, have visited the Web site since it opened three weeks ago, but only about 500,000 managed to complete applications for insurance coverage. And an even smaller subset of those applicants actually obtained coverage.”

Reed and Johnson go on to suggest that the government stop using undependable vendors and create its own Government Digital Service, which would also allow easier contracting with small businesses and start-ups.

Reed won a measure of political fame when he led the technology team behind Obama’s re-election efforts, which included many private-sector trained programmers. Reed and Johnson contend that federal regulations about purchasing do more harm than good, allow wasteful spending, and don’t do enough to ensure successful projects.