Yesterday I wrote about the New York Times article citing an anonymous “specialist” who made absurd claims about the software that drives the new Healthcare.gov website, particularly that the web application consists of 500 million lines of code (highly doubtful) of which 5 million need to be fixed.
Here’s a really good piece with more on these ridiculous statements, by David Auerbach: Healthcare.gov Problems: What 5 Million Lines of Code Really Means.
I have no idea who the Times’ sources were, but they sure sound like employees of CGI Federal. Because they almost certainly aren’t programmers, I’d guess they are probably mid- or high-level managers who are trying to salvage CGI Federal’s reputation. They may well be “specialists,” but their specialty is more likely the art of procuring government contracts.
This is to be expected. What’s less expected is that such anonymous sources would be treated with this degree of credulity by national reporters who lack technical understanding of their subject matter and are thus more likely to parrot whatever a “specialist” tells them. The Times has a great tech reporter, Natasha Singer, who has done well-informed work on consumer profiling, taking little for granted. They should put her on this story.