The flailing convulsions that make up the launch and subsequent recovery of the Affordable Care Act's HealthCare.gov web site is still managing to inflect damage on vendors who had a hand in setting it up in the first place.
Next up: Verizon Terremark, which was the web-hosting provider for the online marketplace, has been given the boot by the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS opted not to renew its contract with Terremark, and instead awarded the winning bid to Hewlett-Packard, the Wall Street Journal reported.
HP's Enterprise Services group put in the winning $38 million bid to start taking over the web hosting duties this summer.
Anyone following the HealthCare.gov debacle will not be terribly surprised by Terremark's fallen status. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius threw Terremark under the bus in her Oct. 29 testimony to Congress when asked about a recent failure on the site. Sebelius pinned the blame squarely on Terremark.
A couple of things leap out at me about this move. The first is quite cynical: I hope HP can survive their encounter with HealthCare.gov. The second is more of an observations on mixing technology with politics: it rarely works.
The issue here is that in their quest to figure out what went wrong with HealthCare.gov, politicians are really seeking to figure out who to blame—and ensure that blame does not fall on them.
Verizon Terremark may have indeed dropped the ball on HealthCare.gov, but they are hardly the only ones. Pushing them out now may be necessary—none of us are fully privy to the mess that's been made—but it seems wildly counterproductive to lose one web-hosting provider and force a transition to another one at a time when many other things need to be fixed.
It's like asking a patient to be moved to another hospital, while he's in the middle of open-heart surgery.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.