The Conversation

Obama's 'Tech Surge' Consisted of Six People

President Obama stood in the Rose Garden and promised a "tech surge" to fix healthcare.gov. In reality, the surge was a tiny influx of "about a half-dozen people."

In a multi-page story on the effort to rebuild the troubled website, the NY Times reported Saturday that one of the President's fixes was actually a bit of hyperbole. The "tech surge," which the President announced during a Rose Garden speech last month, was not a wave of software engineers. It was a tiny handful of people:

In fact, the surge centered on about a half-dozen people who had taken leave from various technology companies to join the effort. They included Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer at Google who had also worked on Mr. Obama’s campaign and now draws praise from contractors as someone who is “actually making a difference,” one said.

Even so, one person working on the project said, “Surge was probably an overstatement.”

It's doubtful anyone listening to the President's speech in the Rose Garden would have assumed the "tech surge" consisted of six people. Then again, no one would have guessed that the site would only enroll six people on its first day of operation. The White House has a habit of claiming big things are happening when, in reality, the number of people involved can be counted on two hands.


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