Oregon to abandon its failed health exchange online marketplace

The system, developed by Oracle, never worked. Having spent $248 million, the State will dump the entire project and spend an estimated $4 to $6 million to use the Federal HealthCare.gov web site. The rest of the Cover Oregon operation is also running out of money and does not yet know how they will be funded for 2015.

While the Governor likes to call this a “technology failure”, his own personally selected outside consultant’s review of the project found the project failed due to leadership, management and organizational incompetence. Their report barely mentions technology.

This goes down as the largest information systems project failure in the State’s history. Other notable technology failures in Oregon include the completely failed Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network (OWIN) project and the Portland Water Bureau’s billing system disaster. In the case of OWIN, the State’s own project manager’s repeatedly lied to the Legislature, the Governor and the people. In the end, though, the only person who lost his job was the whistleblower.

In the case of the Cover Oregon disaster, the executive director of the Oregon Health Authority, Bruce Goldberg, was fired. The OHA’s CIO Carolyn Lawson was fired. The Director of Cover Oregon, Rocky King resigned for “medical reasons”. Since then, the CIO, CFO and COO of Cover Oregon have been fired. The wreckage left behind is substantial. The Governor will hopefully by fired by the voters in November.

I suspect this will become a classic case study in software engineering courses for the next one to two decades.

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