Nevada kicks Xerox to the curb, moves to for 2015

Hat Tip To: 
Esther Ferington

First Oregon told Oracle to go pound sand after paying the company hundreds of millions of dollars for a useless website; now Nevada has officially done the same thing to Xerox:

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board voted unanimously Tuesday to end its relationship with Xerox, the vendor contracted in 2012 to build the exchange’s Nevada Health Link website.

In place of Xerox, the exchange will adopt the federal exchange’s eligibility and enrollment functions for the sign-up period that begins Nov. 15, though it will keep its status and funding as a state-controlled system. The exchange will also issue a request for proposals to evaluate replacement systems in coming years. A new platform could come from a state with a functional marketplace, or from a vendor with a similar, proven program.

Unlike Massachusetts, which is taking a dual-path approach (they're scrambling to replace their own crappy site with a new one while simultaneously preparing to move over to just in case the first plan doesn't pan out in time), Nevada is sort of doing the opposite: They're moving over to this year, but reserving the right to try a do-over on their own exchange for 2016 and beyond.

It'll be interesting to see how Nevada's approach plays out in the media, given that unlike the other two states, NV has a Republican governor.

I also have to point out that while the elected officials in all of these states certainly deserve some share of the blame for their botched websites, no one seems to be pinning any of the blame on the private, for-profit corporations which were responsible for actually developing the websites, and which failed miserably. These aren't little pipsqueak startup companies either; Xerox and Oracle are huge, established technology powerhouses, so they can't exactly play the "in over their heads" defense.

Now, as a website developer myself (obviously at a slightly lower level), I'm not going to pin all of the blame on the companies; I've had more than my share of clients who give confusing instructions, try to change the scope of the job in mid-development, don't provide a consistent point of contact and so on. However, when you're talking about a high-profile project worth hundreds of millions of dollars, it's also not acceptable for the developer to simply shrug stuff off and say "oh well, it's not precisely laid out in the contract so I'll just keep my mouth shut and pocket the paycheck."

If Xerox or Oracle can provide clear evidence that they expressed their concerns, warnings and so forth repeatedly throughout the process, then I'll retract my criticism, but I find it very hard to believe that these huge "professional" technology corporations are 100% blameless in their respective debacles...yet it's only the public officials who seem to be catching the heat so far.

In any event, as of today it looks like the 2015 lineup will still consist of 15 state-run exchanges...except with Oregon and Nevada swapping places with Idaho and New Mexico.

Massachusetts' status is still unknown. Maryland plans on swapping out their crappy system with Connecticut's excellent one, but we'll have to see if they can pull it off in time.

Minnesota and Vermont are also having issues, but to my knowledge neither of those are critical. That leaves Hawaii as the only other state likely to pull the pull the plug on their exchange.