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Note that the original healthcare.gov-fixers were "Friends of Obama" -- volunteers on Obama's presidential campaign. They have technical chops, but this is still largely patronage.

I would contest that "largely".

Once it became apparent the rollout was a fiasco, Obama was associated with two major tech projects, one successful (his reelection campaign infrastructure) and one now famously unsuccessful (healthcare.gov). Bringing in people who he had worked with, who he trusted, and who had famously done excellent work for him in the past was an absolute no-brainer.

I have trouble believing that Obama's motivations were "largely" along the lines of "these guys helped me on the campaign, I'm going to do them a solid and bring them in to work on this hellish, high-profile disaster of a project".

I read something where the question was asked "Why didn't Obama have these guys do healthcare.gov in the first place?"

The reason given was that he couldn't (hire them in the first place) or it would look like patronage.

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