First, I would not have given this contract to a Canadian information-technology company. Why not give it to a U.S. company simply given that, alas, this is the U.S.? Have some pride in our American companies, for heaven's sake. I wonder if the people at IBM ( IBM), for example, are cracking up about how CGI, the fifth-largest information-technology company in the world, could have gotten this contract and screwed it up so badly. I am surprised -- and I say this facetiously -- that the U.S. government didn't give the work to SAP ( SAP), and Infosys Limited ( INFI). If you are going out of town and offshore, why not go all the way off the darned continent and give it to SAP, located in the heart of scenic Walldorf, Germany? Or why not give it to Infosys, in good old Bangalore, India? At least SAP is run by Bill McDermott, an American, and I think that company would have never performed as poorly as this CGI. Nope, I would have stayed in the country and approached the whole thing differently from the way Sebelius has done. You see, this isn't and was never an information-technology initiative, and it should never have been given to an information-technology company.
It was a customer-relations-management project -- and if there's a real issue here with Sibelius and her crew, it was their failure to recognize that this whole Web site was about the client, the citizen of the United States, and not at all about the health care system. I would have given this entire contract to Salesforce.com ( CRM), and told CEO Marc Benioff to make sure that the customer gets all the help he or she needs to figure out how to choose the right health care plan. I bet Benioff could have put together an all-star team of companies to make this work, perhaps Google ( GOOG), to answer queries and Apple ( AAPL), itself to develop the cleanest app and Amazon ( AMZN), to deliver a hard copy with instructions if you didn't know how to use a computer.