Tech & Work

How to craft your resume if you were part of the rollout

If you think your resume has a questionable spot or two, think how the IT pros on the rollout feel.

The CIO for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Tony Trenkle, is leaving CMS, the agency embroiled in the hideously ridiculous rollout of government's insurance marketplace website. He is departing effective Nov. 15 to take an undisclosed position in the private sector.

This shocks me—not the "leaving," part--but the part about going to a position in the private sector. I'm shocked because if I had one piece of advice to give anyone who worked on the project, either in a coding role or in tech leadership it would be this: Immediately X out that little adventure from your resume.

I don't care if you were just the spellchecker on the content side, distance yourself quickly. Plug something more palatable into your resume, like during those months you were Miley Cyrus' image consultant.

Even the folks at the top of this trash heap were able to spin a better story out of what happened, they would still have to admit that they were guilty of an unimaginable lack of communication.

Be clear: I'm not stating an opinion on the concept of Obamacare. I'm focusing here about the project. How could it happen? How could a project of such monumental proportions fail so miserably? You'd think that--knowing a whole political party was waiting with fingers crossed that something would go wrong--everybody involved would have treated the details of the project with the same scrutiny as they would in mapping the human genome.

I know the first excuse is that a short timeline was the culprit. Maybe so. Maybe the project's architects, managers, and coders were all screaming to slow the train down but no one listened.

But from what I can cull from news reports, it might have been a communication issue. Some of the people involved—like chief project manager Henry Chao—claim they were kept in the dark about serious failures in the website's security. But then, according to a later Huffington Post article:

In a July 16 email sent ahead of a meeting with then-prime contractor CGI Federal, Chao described the agency's low confidence level in the project work, from constant struggles with releases to changing delivery dates and poor quality assurance on software.

So was everyone on the same page or not? At some point it's clear that the communication stopped, whether out of pressure to launch on schedule or because the people in the trenches weren't sharing their concerns with the right people. Maybe they were scared. Who knows? The point is that there was information to be shared and it wasn't.  

I'm sure we'll find out the whole story in a year or so when Hollywood picks up the film rights. Which just may be the undisclosed position in the private sector Mr. Trenkle is headed to.

For more on communication in the workplace:


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.


I read an article (can't remember the source) that stated that anything done in IT for the government is not a straight-line process.  And that starts with multiple levels of providers, advisors, and anyone else the project is loaded down with - perhaps not even necessary.  And are you looking at a 'low bid' situation here?

There are thousands of extremely competent web designers/builders out there.  Start with the proverbial '10 year old down the street' .. to making it a class project for any college/university Web Design and Development certification program.  Now, *that* would be a nice addition to a resume!

It's like letting a bunch of politicians implement 'security policies' .. they're a mind-boggling joke.  Oh.  And not secure.


Those people who think the government can do things better than the private sector started with a campaign years ago to convince Americans, especially those in Congress, that American medicine was a mess. They emphasized the shortcomings in our system. And they pointed out there were 40 million or more uninsured. Instead of developing a system to provide insurance for the uninsured, the big government people wrote a law to take over all of medicine. Most of these people had no experience with the practice of medicine, hospitals or insurance. And they did not ask for help or advice from ANYONE who did not support their ideological approach to medicine even if these people had knowledge and experience which the Congress needed. Is there any surprise that ACA is in trouble? Physicians particularly pediatricians, internists and family practitioners are going to be squeezed hard by low reimbursements for all the new Medicaid patients. We all will have trouble getting appointments, diagnostic procedures, cancer care and surgery as there is no provision in the ACA law to train more physicians. In fact there is a cap on the number of specialists which the Federal government will provide money for training under Medicare/Medicaid provisions. This cap has been in place for 16 years.

There is plenty of blame to go around (Republicans and Democrats) for the mess we are in now. I don't think the Congress or the President have any idea how to fix the ACA mess.


I have to wonder if the pressure was on to get the site up and running, so they could tout a large number of subscribers asap. In the face of so much political opposition, hellbent on reversing the ACA, maybe they figured the sooner the site was running, with a fantastic number of happy subscribers they could point to who obtained better and cheaper healthcare, they'd have statistics to give the GOP some hard pushback.

Editor's Picks