Healthcare.gov’s 500,000,000 Lines Of Code?

This popped up in my Facebook feed today:

Click to enlarge

You can enlarge it to see the punchline, but it’s this: Healthcare.gov supposedly requires 500,000,000 lines of code.

I’m going to call BS on that.

The idea is that the site was programmed with such an absurd degree of incompetence that it bloated to an unprecedented size. But when I saw the graphic, it seemed like someone was just saying “One billion gagillion fafillion shabadabalo shabadamillion shabaling shabalomillion.”

I guess if you count the front end, the database, every line of off-the-shelf code, and every state system, it’s maybe slightly a little bit conceivable that you can get 500,000,000 lines of code

Also, “lines of code” is not really all that useful in determining how big or inefficient a program is. I guess compiler reports counting all the libraries and everything else in all the various pieces of the system might yield half a billion “lines” of “code.” For example, more than 80 libraries called Boost have 19,458,640 lines handling all kinds of tasks so programmers don’t need to reinvent them every time. No one working on Healthcare.gov wrote a line of it.

Still, that’s still a long way from 500,000,000. It just sounds made up. The cost and non-functionality of the system is bad enough without exaggerating.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.


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