State Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Parkland, said Monday that one reason for the problem-plagued rollout of the Obamacare website is that top information technology talent doesn't end up working at the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
"They clearly, clearly did not have the bright minds that we needed on it," he said.
The best work in the private sector or more exciting areas of the government, like the CIA, said Ring, who knows something about the high-tech world. Before turning to politics, he spent six years as an early executive at Yahoo!, the Internet search-engine giant.
Asked in an interview Monday why the federal government couldn't implement the Affordable Care Act website correctly and why the state of Florida had big problems with its new system for filing for unemployment benefits, Ring focused mostly on Obamacare.
"These websites are complex. They're not simple. Last I read you had over 1 million lines of code in the health care website. And you've got to get all the agencies to speak to one another," he told the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board.
"That being said, your top tech people are not necessarily going to go to work for Health and Human Services. Your smartest tech people are going to go to work for the private side or they're going to go to work for the military or the CIA or the FBI or something like that," he said. "So my guess is they didn't understand just how complex it is. They get it now. All of this is fixable."
Ring said the cost of developing the flawed health care site, estimated by some at about $500 million, "seems awfully expensive to build a website."
Ring, chairman of the Florida Senate's Government Operations Committee, said Florida government's information technology systems are poorly managed and have no coordination.
He said that helps explain problems with the state's new $68 million unemployment website, which went which went live Oct. 15, replacing a 30-year-old system that individuals used to claim their weekly benefits, monitor accounts and request information.
Last week, Department of Economic Opportunity Director Jesse Panuccio told members of a Senate committee that it might be mid-January for the system put together by Minneapolis-based Deloitte Consulting to fully outperform the prior system.
"We have no credibility on the I.T. side," Ring said in an interview reporters and members of the Sun Sentinel editorial board. "We do not have the competency, the capability, the credibility to be able to pull off something as big as that website."
Video of Jeremy Ring discussing government's information technology shortcomings at SunSentinel.com/BrowardPolitics
News Service of Florida contributed to this report.
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