The PJ Tatler

Obamacare Web Site 'Basically DDOS'ed Itself'

The Obama administration outsourced building the Obamacare website to a Canadian company. Evidently Canadians will do jobs, very poorly, that Americans won’t do.


Now that Obamacare has become 404Care — an error-filled pile of fail — that contractor just doesn’t have a thing to say.

Days after the launch of the federal government’s Obamacare website, millions of Americans looking for information on new health insurance plans were still locked out of the system even though its designers scrambled to add capacity.

Government officials blame the persistent glitches on an overwhelming crush of users – 8.6 million unique visitors by Friday – trying to visit the website this week.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversaw development of the site, declined to make any of its IT experts available for interviews. CGI Group Inc, the Canadian contractor that built, is “declining to comment at this time,” said spokeswoman Linda Odorisio.

Tech experts tend to say that 404Care’s problems are fundamental and not the result of any traffic “crush.” That traffic “crush, by the way, was not extraordinary. Drudge handles more traffic in one day than handled all of last week.

For instance, when a user tries to create an account on, which serves insurance exchanges in 36 states, it prompts the computer to load an unusually large amount of files and software, overwhelming the browser, experts said.

If they are right, then just bringing more servers online, as officials say they are doing, will not fix the site.


Right. It won’t.

It looks like they built the site, very poorly, but never put it through any real-world stress tests at all. Which is pretty stupid.

Hancock described the situation as similar to what happens when hackers conduct a distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attack on a website: they get large numbers of computers to simultaneously request information from the server that runs a website, overwhelming it and causing it to crash or otherwise stumble. “The site basically DDOS’d itself,” he said.

That’s quite an achievement.

Americans could have learned more about Obamacare’s online failures during today’s briefing with the president, but no one in the press corps asked him about the spectacular failure of his signature policy and law, the very law that is at the heart of the current government shutdown.

Isn’t that a bit odd — to not ask the president about the failure of his policy, which has Washington in a state of near civil war, and which is flaming out across its first week as the law of the land?

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