Media Coverage for Changing the National Discourse on Healthcare.gov

Healthcare.govI’ve unexpectedly become a national technical “expert” on the problems plaguing the Healthcare.gov web site for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). By documenting the problems from my experience trying to use the site on the first day, I was among the first to warn that the problems were VERY serious. Much more serious than the initial suggestions that crashes were due to too many users. Based on my software development experience and how awful Healthcare.gov is, I sensed the site was created by people who may have never created a scalable, database web site before. My blog posts went viral:

As a result, I’ve received considerable national media attention in newspapers, television, and radio. I even Testified before the House Homeland Security Committee on November 13th.

Here are some of the media spots in chronological order as the controversy evolved.


Luke Chung Quoted in New York Times for Healthcare.govOctober 8: Quoted in the New York Times

Michael Shear of the NY Times called me yesterday and quoted me in today’s article: Health Exchange Delays Tied to Software Crash in Early Rush

“It’s poorly designed,” said Luke Chung, the president of a database company in Virginia who has publicly criticized the site in recent days. “People higher up are given the excuse that there are too many users. That’s a convenient excuse for the managers to pass up the chain.”


ForbesOctober 9: Quoted in Forbes by Avik Roy

How Obamacare’s Exchanges Turned Into A ‘Third World Experience’

IT developer Luke Chung, who supports the health law, blogged scathingly about his experience logging into healthcare.gov. “To deliver such low quality results requires multiple process breakdowns. It just proves you can create bad solutions independent of the choice of technology…it wouldn’t pass a basic code review. It appears the people who built the site don’t know what they’re doing, never used it, and didn’t test it.”


Luke Chung on the CBS Morning News for Healthcare.govOctober 9: CBS This Morning News

I was included in the national broadcast of the CBS Morning News. Read the text or watch the video in Obamacare website looks “like nobody tested it,” programmer says

Luke Chung on CBS News

“It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it,” said Luke Chung, an online database programmer.

Chung supports the new health care law but said it was not the demand that is crashing the site. He thinks the entire website needs a complete overhaul.

“It’s not even close. It’s not even ready for beta testing for my book. I would be ashamed and embarrassed if my organization delivered something like that,” he said.


Luke Chung on CNN Situation Room with Wolf BlitzerOctober 9: CNN Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

I was featured in an article on CNN entitled Obamacare glitches known ahead of time? Brian Todd came by the office to learn more about the challenges I encountered and the web site actually crashed while I was showing it.

Luke Chung on CNN Situation Room with Brian Todd


Luke Chung on Fox News with Peter DoocyOctober 11: Fox News with Peter Doocy

ObamaCare website neither fast or easy? Peter stepped through the site and struggled to even get a user name. Then I made a few comments around 1:11.

Luke Chung on Fox News with Peter Doocy

“It’s written as if it were created by people who had never created a database web application before…This can be fixed in a very short period of time, and it wouldn’t necessarily be that expensive”


October 11: KABC Radio Los Angeles (AM 790): McIntyre In The Morning

Luke Chung comes on to talk about the root cause of Obamacare’s website hick-ups… (7 minutes)

KABC McIntyre in the Morning


October 11: Ross Fire Show on KIRO Radio Seattle

Here’s my interview with Dave Ross of Ross Fire on KIRO Radio, a CBS Radio station in Seattle:

RossFire Radio Show

A computer expert’s take on the ineptitude of Obamacare online

Database expert Luke Chung has suddenly become an expert on the failings of the Obamacare computer system, all because it kept crashing as he tried to get a quote. Dave Ross and Luke go in depth on what Luke found after he dug into it (stunning ineptitude) and how he could fix it easily for a fraction of the cost. Whether you’re a geek or not, you’ll enjoy this fascinating conversation.

It’s my most in depth interview on the HealthCare.gov website. It includes my experience meeting with the House Energy and Commerce Committee staffers on Thursday, ways to improve the system, and how the Affordable Care Act can help FMS and other small businesses. I also suggested at the end of the show that our consulting team could rebuild the site for $1 million, and that I’d be embarrassed to accept so much. I think I can stand by that, but I probably should have checked with my managers first. :)


NBC Today ShowOctober 17: NBC Today Show with Tom Costello

Here’s my appearance on the Today Show:

Obamacare site gets failing grades from experts, public

Two weeks after the government’s healthcare exchange website was launched , it is receiving intense criticism from Americans trying to sign up, former White House staffers, and even a software programmer, who says the site looks like “amateur hour.”

Discussing Healthcare.gov on the NBC Today Show with Tom Costello

At 1:36: Tom Costello asks, “When you see this as a software programmer, what does it say to you. Luke replied: “Amateur Hour. It looks like it was created by someone who has never delivered commercial software before….A user should never see this. This would barely make beta testing.”

2:07: Experts say a lot of work needs to be done: “If they don’t change management, this project is doomed. Because we’ve already seen what the existing management considers ready for shipping, and it’s not.”


NBC Nightly NewsOctober 17: NBC Nightly News with Tom Costello

I also appeared on the evening news with a different clip from the same interview:

More than $196 million spent on glitch-ridden Heathcare.gov

The company that built the botched website where people are supposed to sign up for the Obama’s health care exchanges has spent millions of dollars developing Healthcare.gov, but people are still having trouble signing up. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

healthcare-nbc-nightly-news

At 1:54: Tech experts say the problems with the US web site are serious. Luke says: “It doesn’t work. It’s supposed to get you a quote. It doesn’t do that.”

Luke Chung owns a software database company. If this was your product, what would you say? “I’d be embarrassed, and I’d use language with my development team that couldn’t be on the air. This is ridiculous.”


CNNOctober 18: CNN Situation Room with Brian Todd

Brian Todd came to our offices again for this story: Insurers suffer Obamacare site glitches

CNN Situation Room October 18

I’m on at 1:12 discussing the unnecessary complexity of the system and ways to improve it.


October 18: Sean Hannity Radio Show

A nice conversation with Sean Hannity helping him understand the technical problems with the Healthcare.gov web site. About 15 minutes.

Sean Hannity Radio Show

Sean liked the conversation so much, he invited me to appear on his TV Show next week.


October 18: Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America

Interviewed by Joie Chen on Al Jazeera America shot at their studio located in the Newseum. This was my first live broadcast. I don’t think anyone saw it, so it was good practice.


October 22: Geraldo Radio Show

Interviewed by Geraldo Rivera on his morning radio show.


October 23: Hannity TV Show

A very engaging four minute one-on-one conversation with Sean Hannity.

Hannity TV

Tech expert calls ObamaCare site an ‘awful’ process

Luke Chung and Sean Hannity

Tech Expert on Healthcare.gov: ‘I’ve Built More Complex Systems for $1M’ (partial transcript)

“It’s just an awful website…As I was using it, the system kept crashing on me. And as soon as it started crashing, I was like ‘Oh, my God, this system is not ready for prime time.’ The types of crashes I was experiencing had nothing to do with too many users. It was just bad…They had developers who I sensed had never been paid to create software before. It was really amateurish. It looks like it was their first job…The programming was really bad; it looks like it wasn’t tested, and even if they had programmed it properly and tested it, the design was wrong. So it really didn’t matter whether they did it right…They haven’t thought through the buying process…$200 million at $200 an hour is a million man hours, 500 man years. How did they have time to use 500 man-years? Or triple that, 1500 man years..This is just filling out a paper form and getting a subsidy…It shouldn’t be that complicated.”


Luke Chung on MSNBC October 24: MSNBC Chris Jansing Show

A relatively lengthy eight minute interview where I evaluate the existing system and point out the problems with federal contractors. Chris Jansing does a nice job challenging some of my conclusions: “It’s just an awful web site”

Luke Chung on MSNBC Chris Jansing Show

An article by Paul Bremmer commenting on my interview including a complete transcript of the conversation:
Software Expert Slams Healthcare.Gov On MSNBC: ‘This Really Shouldn’t Be That Difficult’

Luke Chung and Chris Jansing on MSNBC


NBC Nightly NewsOctober 25: NBC Evening New with Tom Costello

Healthcare.gov to ‘work smoothly’ by end of November
White House economic advisor Jeff Zeints has said that by the end of November — just five weeks away — the federal healthcare website will be working smoothly for the vast majority of users. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

NBC Evening News 2013-10-25

Starting at 1:50, I make a few comments:

“Every time I come to my application, it says it’s incomplete…It’s extremely difficult to take over someone else’s code, figure out what’s wrong with it, and fix it. Sometimes you have to throw it away and start from scratch.”

Tom Costello concluded from my comments that I didn’t believe the new team would be able to fix the site by the end of November. While I believe that will be a challenging deadline, my contention all along is that this website is not that difficult to implement. With the proper design and development team, they could create a functional version of Healthcare.gov in five weeks. Their families, however, shouldn’t expect to see them much over Thanksgiving weekend.


fox-and-friendsOctober 26: Fox & Friends interview by Clayton Morris

This interview was focused on how the Healthcare.gov site could be designed properly with graphics of my recommendations based on my blog post: Creating a Healthcare.gov Web Site that Works

Unfortunately, I haven’t received a clip of the episode. Will post it if/when we receive it.


November 5: Sean Hannity Radio Show

Discussing the Healthcare.gov mess, what to do about it, and how the government contractors charged so much and delivered so little. Begins with Congressional inquiries of the CGI Federal contractors before my interview starts. I start a bit after the 2 minute mark (total 10 minutes)

Sean Hannity Radio Show


The Fiscal TimesNovember 6: The Fiscal Times by Brianna Ehley
Tech Expert: Scrap the Obamacare Site and Start Over

Luke Chung, president and founder of FMS, a software development firm based in Virginia, suggested the contractors should not try “to fix something that’s bad.”

“It’s like polishing a turd. Either way, you still have a turd,” Chung said bluntly.

He criticized the design of the site, and said it didn’t need to be so complex.He said a much simpler site would serve its purpose better, make it easier for the public to use and would likely only take a month to build.

Not my classiest quote, but you never know what a reporter will use after an extended interview. Here are the recommendations I’ve made for a better design and simpler implementation of the web site: Creating a Healthcare.gov Web Site that Works


Greta van SusterenNovember 6: Greta van Susteren Show

Appeared with Greta to discuss what went wrong.


The Fiscal TimesNovember 13: The Fiscal Times by David Francis
No Hope Left for Obamacare’s Website, Techies Say

“When I visited HealthCare.gov on October 1, that was the worst piece of software I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said Luke Chung, founder and CEO of the software company FMS. “It had nothing to do with too many users. It couldn’t serve one user.”

Chung, who is testifying in front of the House Oversight committee today, said these technical issues are the most frustrating.

“I have contended all along that this is not that difficult of a project,” he said. “It doesn’t provide health care, it doesn’t even provide insurance. It’s just a form to apply for a subsidy to get health insurance. It’s automating a paper form. It shouldn’t be that hard.”

“Technically, this is not that difficult,” Chung added. “It shouldn’t cost more than $10 million. And it should be something that can be done in a couple of months.”

“The idea that it would be perfect is never. All systems are never perfect. It’s never perfectly secure or functioning,” Chung said. “If you discovered hundreds of bugs on the initial launch, there are hundreds more or multiples of that that haven’t been discovered yet.”


November 13: House Homeland Security Committee

I was invited to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee. I provided a written testimony and gave a five minute opening statement before answering questions from Chairman McCaul.

Homeland Security Committee Testimony

Testifying before the House Committee on Homeland Security


CNNNovember 14: CNN by Joe Johns and Stacey Samuel

Official: Hackers tried repeatedly to attack Obamacare website

Quoted in this article based on my testimony yesterday before the House Homeland Security Committee.

“You would assume that for hundreds of millions of dollars it would be a secure site”

Was interviewed by the article’s authors on November 18th for additional research into how the contractors took advantage of taxpayers.


November 14: Sean Hannity Radio Show

My third appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show. I’ve become his “technical expert” and we discussed how the Healthcare.gov government contractors abused taxpayers in addition to being inept. Also discussed how the website could be designed properly and how we created the Logistics Support System for the United Nations, deployed in 80 countries, for under $500K. And that platform can be localized in any language while Healthcare.gov was supposed to also be in Spanish and they don’t even have that.

Sean Hannity Radio Show

In the month and a half since Healthcare.gov debuted, I think everyone has finally accepted how technically awful the website is. Maybe this will be the end of my media attention.


CNNNovember 22: CNN Situation Room by Brianna Keilar and Wolf Blitzer

Where’s the anonymous shopping perk?

While attending a week-long conference at Microsoft, I was asked to comment on the need for anonymous shopping on the Healthcare.gov website. I was taped from their Seattle studio, hence the Space Needle backdrop:

CNN with Brianna Keiler

I appear at 1:50 for a short quote in this 4:30 story:

“This is something people expect when they visit any web site to not disclose any personal information until they’re at a point where they want to make a commitment to buy.”


Greta van SusterenNovember 26: On the Record with Kimberly Guilfoyle

Will HealthCare.gov be in good health by Nov. 30?

Greta van Susteren is on vacation, so I chatted with Kimberly who was in New York City while I was on Greta’s studio in Washington, DC. We discussed how these contractors are “Too Big to Fire”

Kimberly-Guilfoyle-Luke Kimberly-Guilfoyle-Luke2

“Over time, I’m beginning to see that these government contractors who took over this project have essentially made every decision that favors them as much as possible – to maximize the cost to taxpayers, to maximize their profits.”

Related article by Greg Richter based on the broadcast: Software Developer: ACA Website Designers Just Lining Own Pockets


Luke Chung Quoted in New York Times for Healthcare.govNovember 27: Quoted in the New York Times

I’ve been a technical resource for Robert Pear of the New York Times since he quoted me in an article that kicked off all this media attention on October 8th.

Yesterday we chatted about how a web site needs to be built to support maximum volume which will come on the deadline date. Quite a challenge since they can’t even support the early volume. His article appears on the front page:

Health Exchange Delays Tied to Software Crash in Early Rush

Luke Chung, the president of FMS, a database company in Virginia, said building the website to handle 50,000 simultaneous users was “not unreasonable.” But he said the government must be prepared to handle much larger numbers at peak times like Dec. 23, just as the Internal Revenue Services does at the tax filing deadline in April.


CNNNovember 27: CNN by Leigh Ann Caldwell

White House: Enroll in Obamacare, but not too fast

After confirming I wasn’t involved with the Healthcare.gov project, I was interviewed by Leigh Ann Caldwell about the new rollout while trying to board to flight at BWI:

Luke Chung, president and founder of Virginia-based software development company FMS Inc., said success for the website would be determined by both the number of users as well as how long they are in the system. He compared it to a highway, noting that 50,000 people traveling 60 miles per hour is smooth traffic while the same number going 10 miles per hour is a jam…Chung cited December 23 as the most significant deadline, noting that demand would be “huge” because people by nature wait until the last minute to act.


NBC Nightly NewsNovember 29: NBC Evening News with Kristin Welker

Deadline hours away for Obamacare website fixes

The Obama administration has just one day to get its Healthcare.gov website running more efficiently, but officials are already trying to limit expectations once again.

nbc-nightly-news-2013-11-29

Taped from sunny Sarasota, FL over Thanksgiving weekend, this was the lead story of the evening news. Thought a beach shoot would be better but they said they’d have to explain that. Starting at 0:45, I make a few comments in response to Secretary Sebelius’ comments that people should use the new Healthcare.gov web site during off-peak hours:

“It tells me the system isn’t full baked. This system should be able to accommodate as many people who want to get on as possible.”..cut to President Obama…”50,000 is not a number that’s unheard of for websites to be able to support at one time. So I think the challenge is not just the number of users, but whether there are still bugs in the system that will prevent the process from running smoothly.”


NBC Today ShowNovember 30 Today Show with Kristin Welker

Crucial Weekend for Healthcare Web Site

nbc-today-2013-11-30-logo

A portion of my taped interview yesterday was also included in the following morning’s Today Show at 1:06:

“The system either works or it doesn’t work….the 50,000 number that they’ve put out is a little ambiguous because what one wants to know is how many people per hour can get through the system.”


CNNNovember 30: CNN with Tory Dunnan

Tory Dunnan had a Skype call with me to better understand the capacity of the relaunched Healthcare.gov site. I now know that I need better lighting for a Skype call. This interview was cut into multiple stories that aired all day long. Here’s one of them appearing at 1:30:

cnn-2013-11-30-Tory-Dunnan cnn-2013-11-30-Skype

“So the challenge isn’t how many lanes do you have on the highway, but it’s how fast the cars can go down the highway. Because if there’s any breakdown, you can have a big traffic jam and pile up behind you.”

More details: Deadline Day: Obama administration ‘on track’ for website goal, agency says


fox-and-friendsNovember 30: Fox & Friends Live Interview with Clayton Morris

ObamaCare: Mistake or moneymaker?

A one-on-one interview with Clayton Morris for four minutes discussing how large government contractors profit from delivering systems that don’t work: “If we follow the money, we’ll see the stink in the system…Too Big to Fire”

fox-friends-2013-11-30-clayton-luke-graphic fox-friends-2013-11-30-luke

Featuring Sarasota Bay behind me.


msnbcDecember 2: MSNBC News Nation with Tamron Hall

I appeared on a panel with three others for a live interview discussing the relaunched Healthcare.gov web site.

My appearance is available and summarized by Noah Rothman in this article: Tamron Hall Interrogates Tech Expert After He Criticized Supposed ‘Improvements’ to ACA Site

Here’s a new blog post with my more detailed technical assessment of the new web site: Who Thinks the Relaunched Healthcare.gov Performance Metrics are Acceptable?


Luke Chung Quoted in New York Times for Healthcare.govFebruary 11, 2014: Quoted in the New York Times: Creators Still in Demand on Health Care Website

Robert Pear of the NY Times called me and quoted me in this article: Creators Still in Demand on Health Care Website

The contract for the Healthcare.gov site has moved from CGI Federal to Accenture, but Accenture doesn’t really have a better team to put in place. In the typical large government contractor world, the winner of a contract simply hires the existing team and moves them to their payroll. The people who do the work remain and change their business cards. Do we really expect significant improvements from a team that created the original site and thought it was ready for the public?

“This appears to be a typical government contract shuffle,” Luke Chung, the president of FMS, a software development company in Vienna, Va., said of the handoff. “A new company wins the contract and hires many of the old people. It happens all the time in government.”