A talk with the team who was called to fix healthcare.gov and what they learned from it.

Mickey Dickerson – engineer – Code for America


Reviewed O’reilly’s discussion of what food stamp app process for it is – Allen Williams – fellow who tested the system

  • Gov initially wanted to enroll 7 million – did not meet
  • after 2.0 – 8 million enrolled
  • Current numbers 16.4 million and going

Healthcare.gov 2.0 – build the healthcare.gov that should have been:

  • Scalable Login System
  • Plan Compare 2.0
  • Application 2.0

Use a standard consumer technology stack: – Backbone, Node, MY SQL, Capistrano

“One privilege the insured and well-off have is to excuse the terrible quality of services the government routinely delivers to the poor. Too often, the press ignores – or simply never knows – the pain and trouble of interfacing with government bureaucracies that the poor struggle with daily” – Ezra Klein, Washington Post

One excuse government has is that “it has limited technology”
Now it has Code for America
They design for experience


The TechFAR Handbook highlights the flexibilities in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) that can help agencies implement“plays” from the Digital Services Playbook that would be accomplished with acquisition support — with a particular focus on how to use contractors to support an iterative, customer-driven software development process, as is routinely done in the private sector.
Link to Playbook:
The TechFAR Handbook for Procuring Digital Services Using Agile Processes


iE: “The secret life of a food stamp” – Marketplace
Where someone tried to sign up for Food Stamps and went through the system in California – SF

  • What they went through:
  • On hold 45 minutes –
    • Users don’t have unlimited cell plan
    • Atms charge $.75 to check balances
  • Endless and extremely hard to understand food stamp qualification letter

End result
https://www.codeforamerica.org/apps/promptly/ – video 6:03 sec


Things that can be fixed:

  • Warrants for unpaid parking tickets
  • Student loans (need fafsa #)
  • Foster kids identity theft
  • Federal Pensions
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Immigration and visas

Look for “People not Data” – Article on Medium

If you have time to donate:

  • govcode.org
  • codeforamerica.gov/brigade
  • codeforamerica.gov/talent – forward to people recruiting for federal gov.
  • Presidential Innovation Fellows
  • ATF USDS – US digital service
  • Govtechfund
  • Small business admin
  • we the people
  • Organize around meeting people’s needs

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