Healthcare.gov may be up and running now, but it’s impossible to forget the groundswell of negativity surrounding its troubled launch. Yes, there were serious issues and challenges with the site’s launch; that’s something we certainly wouldn’t argue with. But instead of bemoaning how ineffective government is – there are enough others already doing that – here at the Govtech Fund we want to take a different approach.
Here’s our take: Healthcare.gov has put the importance of government technology front and center in mainstream debate. And that’s a very good thing to be talking about publicly. Technology is critical to the effectiveness of government. The efficacy of legislation passed is dependent upon the ability to implement it and increasingly that will mean needing technology to function properly. Get the technology wrong – healthcare.gov as a case in point – and it’s difficult to get the legislation to work as intended.
“tough questions about how the government buys and builds information technology are now suddenly a topic of mainstream debate.”
We’re not the only ones looking at the issue in this way: Joseph Marks’ article succinctly points out that the silver lining is “that tough questions about how the government buys and builds information technology are now suddenly a topic of mainstream debate.” An editorial in the New York Times, he mentions, emphasizes the issue by calling out for smarter IT buying throughout government.
“The moment reminds me of 2007, when the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis that crosses the Mississippi river collapsed, killing 13 people,” Joseph writes. “For months afterward, the nation’s aging infrastructure was debated on TV sets and in bars and coffee shops across the country. The public didn’t become civil engineers then any more than they’ve become software coders now, but it was an issue they cared about, knew enough about to follow and wanted fixed.”
The good news is that it can be fixed. Entrepreneurs we invest in at the Govtech Fund are actively building companies to modernize technology at all levels of government. And that’s the silver lining of healthcare.gov worth focusing on.