Back in late February, a new contract document revealed that the Department of Health and Human Services would be paying $60 million for the computer cloud that supports back-end data sharing for HealthCare.gov and state Obamacare marketplaces, more than five times the amount in the original contract. This week HHS revealed that the contract has been further revised — to roughly $120 million, now more than ten times the original $11 million value of the contract when Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services first awarded it in 2011.
In most professions, when you end up spending ten times what you budgeted, the consequences are swift and severe. Heads roll. Responsibilities are reassigned. Budgetary authority gets yanked. This, of course, is not how things work in the federal government.
When George W. Bush was in the Oval Office, liberals often argued that conservative wariness and distrust of government made them poor managers of it. Because they didn’t believe in the power and benefits of an active, powerful federal bureaucracy, they tolerated and came to expect waste and mismanagement.
Alan Wolfe articulated this idea in the Washington Monthly in 2006. “Unable to shrink government but unwilling to improve it, conservatives attempt to split the difference,” he wrote, “expanding government for political gain, but always in ways that validate their disregard for the very thing they are expanding. The end result is not just bigger government, but more incompetent government. . . . As a way of governing, conservatism is another name for disaster.” His article was entitled simply “Why Conservatives Can’t Govern.”