Thursday, October 17, 2013

When it’s a government IT project, how do you know it’s a glitch?

As overheard earlier this week...(with all due respect to Monty Python and The Holy Grail... Original scene here )

American Public: We have found a glitch! (A glitch! a glitch!) Fix it… Fix it!

American 1: We have found a glitch, can you fix it? (cheers)

Sebelius: How do you know it’s a glitch?

American 2: My PC rebooted! Look at this screen shot.

Sebelius: Bring it forward. (advance)

Contractor: It’s not a glitch! It’s not a glitch!

Sebelius: ehh... but the blue color and cryptic hexadecimal notation says it’s one.

Contractor: The GOP forced us to use that color and incomprehensible message!

GOP Senator: Naah, no we didn't... no.

Contractor: And this isn’t our responsibility. We never got paid to do it right the first time around!

(Sebelius holds up $400M contract)

Sebelius: Well?

Contractor 1: Well we did get a couple hundred million to do THAT work.

Sebelius: And all the contract amendments?

Contractor 1: ...they were only for $300M. But it’s not a glitch!

(All: yeah, fix it, fix it!)

Sebelius: Did you overwhelm like this?

American 1: No! (no no... no) Yes. (yes yeah) a bit (a bit bit a bit) But I still couldn’t create an account!

(Senator 1 points at source code)

Sebelius: What makes you think it is a glitch?

Senator 2: Well, when I tried to create an account it turned me into a newt!

Sebelius: A newt?!

(Senator 2 pauses & looks around)

Senator 2: I got better.

American 2: Fix it anyway! (fix it, fit it!)

(Aneesh Chopra walks in)

Sebelius: There are ways of telling whether it is a glitch.

Senator 1: Are there? Well then tell us! (tell us)

Sebelius: Tell me... what do you do with glitches?

Senator 2: Pay to fix'em! Pay to fix them up! (pay pay pay)

Sebelius: What do you pay to fix apart from glitches?

Senator 1: More glitches! (Senator 2 nudges Senator 1)

Senator 3: Elections!

Sebelius: So, why must glitches be fixed?
(long pause)

Senator 2: Cuz the contractors didn’t get them right the first time around?

Sebelius: Gooood.
(crowd congratulates Senator 2)

Sebelius: So, how do we tell when the glitches are fixed?

Senator 1: The contractors send us an invoice for their fixes!

Sebelius: Ahh, but haven’t the contractors already charged us for the original work?

Senator 1: Oh yeah...

Sebelius: Do we always pay 2 or 3 or 4 times for the same work?

Senator 1: Usually

Senator 2: Let's throw the contractors into the bog! (yeah yeah ya!)

Sebelius: Who also charges us for work they’ve never done or previously been paid for?

Senator 1: Other contractors

Senator 2: Politicians

Senator 3: HHS procurement staff
(Sebelius looks annoyed)

Senator 1: Lobbyists

Senator 3: Criminals

Chopra: Prime contractors!
(all look and stare at Chopra)

Sebelius: Exactly! So, logically...

Senator 1 (thinking): If a prime contractor was previously paid for their code, and their code is not working now…

Sebelius: Therefore…
(pause & think)

Senator 3: it’s a contract amendment! (Senator 1: an amendment)(Senator Public 2: an amendment)(all: an amendment!)

Sebelius: We shall use our most liberal amendment!
(Sebelius jumps down)
(walk over while cheering)
(signs a high value contract amendment)
Sebelius: Overnight this to the contractor!

All: A glitch! fix it, fix it!