The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

ORCA: Romney’s Killer Fail

Posted on | November 9, 2012 | 61 Comments

Back home this evening after a 12-day road trip to Ohio, I’m perusing accounts of how the Romney campaign recruited 37,00 volunteers to participate in its ORCA project to monitor Election Day turnout, a project that turned out to be a spectacular failure of epic proportions. The name that keeps coming up in these accounts is Dan Centinello, deputy political director for the Romney campaign:

Centinello was quoted in The Huffington Post on Nov. 1 touting ORCA to volunteers in these grandiose terms: “There’s nothing that the Obama data team, there’s nothing that the Obama campaign, there’s nothing that President Obama himself can do to even come close to what we are putting together here.”

That’s a boast suitable for framing, eh? Centinello is an experienced operative whose LinkedIn profile traces his career going back to his start with the Republican Party in San Diego in 2005, his subsequent work with the 2006 California gubernatorial campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger, on to Romney’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential primary campaign, Chris Christie’s 2009 gubernatorial campaign in New Jersey, and Roy Blunt’s 2010 senatorial campaign in Missouri. He was hired as a deputy to Romney campaign political director Rich Beeson in April, not long after Romney essentially clinched the GOP nomination.

Nothing in Centinello’s resumé suggests that he is the kind of clueless bungler capable of devising a digital Rube Goldberg device like ORCA and yet his fingerprints are all over this laughable catastrophe. The scope of the failure is hard to exaggerate and John Ekdahl at Ace of Spades HQ explains that the failure was predictable:

From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of “rah-rahs” and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame. . . .
They assured us that the system had been relentlessly tested and would be a tremendous success.

When your “training sessions” seem more like an multi-tiered marketing sales pitch, this is not generally a good omen. In hindsight, the bad omens were there all along. In July, Centinello’s name cropped up in an account by Sascha Issenberg of Slate about “a new data-science team within Romney’s strategy department,” which was at that time evidently involved in trying to copy the Obama campaign’s strategy:

“We watch where the president goes,” says Dan Centinello, a Romney deputy political director who oversees the weekly meetings. “We’re trying to piece together what we think are his top ranks.” . . .
Romney aides scoff at the glowing pieces written about Obama’s data-driven methods, but their obsession with reverse-engineering his analytics is its own concession. It is the statistician’s version of trailing a motorcade in a honking bus to find out where the president is headed, in the hopes of later divining why. “It’s one thing to know ours,” says Centinello, “but it’s even better to know what his strategy is.”

This is the guy who, three months later, was personally answering e-mails from volunteers asking questions about the ORCA system, as Bethany Mandel of Commentary reports:

Shoshanna McCrimmon signed up to volunteer on Romney’s website several months ago. She was contacted by Dan Centinello of the Romney campaign and underwent online and phone training that lasted for several hours in order to volunteer locally on Election Day. . . .
Thousands of man-hours went into designing and implementing a program that was useful on one day and one day only, and on that day, it crashed. My source familiar with the campaign described it this way, “It was a giant [mess] because a political operative sold a broken product with no support or backup plan. Just another arrogant piece of the arrogant Romney campaign.”
The operative in question, Dan Centinello, Romney’s Deputy Political Director, was Shoshanna’s only point of contact with the campaign. After a two-and-a-half-hour conference call with volunteers across the country, Shoshanna still had questions about minor details about ORCA and volunteering at her polling place. Her emails were answered within 24 hours, always by Centinello. There appears to have been no delegation on Centinello’s part, and every question sent was answered by the ORCA project manager personally. It’s likely that if this was taking place with the thousands of volunteers in Project ORCA, Centinello was spending hundreds of hours answering basic questions from volunteers that could have been addressed by lower level staffers.

So the deputy campaign manager apparently didn’t have sufficient staff to handle the massive internal communications load necessary when dealing with an organization of 37,00 volunteers using customized software that had never been adequately field tested. Anyone could anticipate trouble in such a situation and yet, before Election Day, a Team Romney spokeswoman was bragging on TV about how 800 volunteers in Boston were going to run this awesome ORCA operation:

“The Obama campaign likes to brag about their ground operation, but it’s nothing compared to this.”
Gail Gitcho, Romney campaign communications director

Yeah: Team Obama had “nothing compared to this” colossal disaster. Sean Gallagher at Ars Technica discusses the basic problems:

[A]ccording to volunteers who saw and used the system, it was hardly a model of stability, having been developed in just seven months on a lightning schedule following the Republican primary elections. . . .
To build Orca, the Romney campaign turned to Microsoft and an unnamed application consulting firm. . . .
Orca turned out to be toothless, thanks to a series of deployment blunders and network and system failures. While the system was stress-tested using automated testing tools, users received little or no advance training on the system. Crucially, there was no dry run to test how Orca would perform over the public Internet.
Part of the issue was Orca’s architecture. While 11 backend database servers had been provisioned for the system –probably running on virtual machines — the “mobile” piece of Orca was a Web application supported by a single Web server and a single application server. Rather than a set of servers in the cloud, “I believe all the servers were in Boston at the Garden or a data center nearby,” wrote Hans Dittuobo, a Romney volunteer at Boston Garden, to Ars by e-mail.
Throughout the day, the Orca Web page was repeatedly inaccessible. It remains unclear whether the issue was server load or a lack of available bandwidth, but the result was the same: Orca had not been tested under real-world conditions and repeatedly failed when it was needed the most.

From the perspective of volunteers in key swing states, ORCA was a Kafkaesque nightmare, as Joel Pollak writes at Breitbart.com:

At one point during Election Day, the system had malfunctioned so badly that desperate volunteers wondered if the program had been hacked.
Romney volunteers in Virginia confirmed that the campaign had relied entirely on Project Orca to turn out the vote in key areas such as Roanoke, where Romney and Ryan had made appearances. Volunteers who had driven to Virginia from safely-Republican Tennessee were shocked at the disorganization they encountered.
While the Romney campaign waited for Orca to function as planned, the Obama campaign had placed signs outside every one of the city’s thirty-three polling places, and was fully staffed with two volunteers outside each polling place, and a strike list volunteer inside, all day long from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The best that the short-handed Tennessee volunteers could manage was 40% coverage of polling places; the local GOP, they said, had relied entirely on the campaign’s centralized Orca system in Boston to turn out the local vote.

John Ekdahl notices that top staff on the Romney campaign are trying to claim that ORCA actually worked and otherwise covering their asses:

Please, if anyone at the RNC is listening, do not let these guys near a major political campaign ever again.

Accountability? What a concept!

UPDATE: An Ohio reader e-mails:

On Saturday and Sunday, I walked my precinct for the Romney Campaign and received a list of voters from which I was to survey and find out if they were planning to vote on Tuesday and if so when.
Knowing one of these voters was well into her 90s and I was pretty sure had voted absentee, I took the liberty of checking against the Hamilton County Board of Elections records of who voted early and had returned their ballot. I was able to check off one-third of the voters I would have otherwise contacted, 32 of 106, and avoid having any of them or their friends or family find out just how inept the Romney folk were for contacting someone whose ballot was mailed back in weeks earlier.
When I returned to the Victory Center and told the person in charge that I found one-third of them had already voted, I was not thanked for finding this out, praised for efficiency, or anything like that.
No, the 22-year-old bitched at me for not following the procedures set forth in the instructions by the “professionals.”

UPDATE II: Ben Howe’s sources with the Romney campaign lay the blame with the consultants running the campaign:

The result of all of these false numbers and inaccurate ground reports is simple: Mitt Romney had no idea what was coming on election day and his false sense of confidence directly translated into how the campaign operated in the closing weeks. In the words of one source, it was a con job.

UPDATE III: Lots of interesting input in the comments — our readership evidently includes plenty of IT geeks — and this from Adjoran:

It sounds like a violation of the First Rule of Management: “You cannot manage what you do not understand.”

There’s also the saying, “Personnel is policy.” If you get the right people in management roles, they’ll hire the right people to do the work and manage them well. On the other hand, if you get the wrong person in management, he’ll inevitably hire people who don’t have enough knowledge to criticize his mismanagement, so that there is no possibility that feedback within the organization to expose incompetence and failure. This is a general trend in organizations, not limited to campaigns and politics.

 

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/hazchic Court

    Complete embarassment. Ugh. I almost signed up for that shiz through Ace, but I couldn’t take the day off of work. I would have been livid. It was bad enough finding out that half of our county voter roles had to go provisional because of a ‘glitch’ that purged them. I still don’t know who my congresscritter will be. Over the next few weeks this will get worse with blogger on the ground reports.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    Reminds me of a famous short story by Arthur C. Clarke, titled Superiority

  • RichFader

    If Shakespeare were writing today, Dick the Butcher would be telling Jack Cade, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the consultants.”

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • http://twitter.com/JSF1970 Joseph Fein

    The one piece of news (that no one listened to me about) was how the Romney campaign hired a whole slew from the Meg Whitman 10 campaign.

    They lost, but b/c Romney and Whitman were friends, the Romney team felt willing to screw over the CAGOP and RPLAC.

    RS, remember the Southland Fundraiser? The same folks who killed that worked in the heart of the Romney campaign. “Local Yokels” know how to win, not slickters with Ivy degrees.

  • ReaganiteRepublican

    And his main selling point was managerial competence-
    &*%#$!

  • chapomatic

    37,00?

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    It’s in metric.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    I found a copy (might be violating copyright, I don’t know) here. It’s shorter than one of Ace’s movie reviews.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    It sounds like a violation of the First Rule of Management: “You cannot manage what you do not understand.”

    National GOTV and cutting edge apps are areas in which Romney had no direct experience. In such cases, the book is to call someone you trust who has such experience in the areas in question. But if this ORCA was a completely new program, there probably wasn’t anyone with any experience with it at all.

    The campaign may have been scammed by the contractor/developer. Some such apps work beautifully in small trial runs, but have never been tested on the scale they would be used in the real world. So the first customer amounts to a beta tester.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    So maybe Centinello was the guy put in charge, also lacked the qualifications to evaluate the product – or even to know how to go about an evaluation. The sales team tells him what he needs and wants to hear, and he’s sold. Happens every day, very often right after lunch.

    But it is the job of the manager to put the proper person in place to make that judgment, or at least with enough savvy to know when he needed expert help.

  • SDN

    Stacy, with 30 years in IT and 15 years current employment with one of the Big 5 database / middle-tier firms, I am prepared to bet you the price of my house that this statement:

    While the system was stress-tested using automated testing
    tools,

    is bullshit of the purest ray serene if this statement is true:

    Part of the issue was Orca’s architecture. While 11
    backend database servers had been provisioned for the system –probably
    running on virtual machines — the “mobile” piece of Orca was a Web
    application supported by a single Web server and a single application
    server.

    There is NO WAY that system was tested. OTOH, Microsoft was involved, and their definition of testing tools consists of one word: Customers.

    On the other hand, it’s exactly what I expect from an organization that is still sending me voting reminders via e-mail as of yesterday.

  • ThomasD

    “Volunteers who had driven to Virginia from safely-Republican Tennessee were shocked at the disorganization they encountered.”

    My wife was tapped early to join in this effort, but due to her prior organizational experiences, she saw it was going to prove a waste of time and bailed.

  • Blake

    SDN, I’m an IT guy also, and, if this truly was Microsoft stuff, and virtual machines were being used, I guarantee there were problems. The organization I work for uses several Hyper V machines and they are notoriously fragile.

    All that aside, this kind of garbage tells me all I need to know about the kind of president Mitt Romney would have been. Better than Obama? I really doubt it, if Romney was this inept at the grass roots level.

    And yet these same campaign consultants will be hired again.

    Insanity.

  • Coulter76

    All of these Republicans not showing up to vote is what I’m far more pissed at. Does anyone for a second doubt that these people were called multiple times and also received several door knocks? And think of all the outside groups that were also working those swing states that had nothing to do with ORCA? I mean, you’re a Republican in Ohio and you don’t make it to the polls, even with all the early voting available?

    I’d like to know what really happened regarding this system, but the GOP lost both the White House and got wiped out in the Senate in states Romney wasn’t contesting. You can’t lay all of this at an IT problem on the day of the election. I think it would be a mistake to just assume we lost purely because of a piece of software.

    I personally think Todd Akin had a lot more to do with Romney losing than ORCA. The gender gap in this election has never been wider in several generations. The GOP needs to reboot if a Democrat can win with an 8% unemployment rate. The country has changed and we’re still running the Reagan playbook from 1980. The only place it really works anymore is in the South, and even there, we lost Virginia and almost lost North Carolina.

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  • http://rodericdeane.com/ Roderic Deane

    The Romney camp was made aware of rVotes, but chose to go with an untested design? Complete idiots.

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  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    The Reagan playbook hasn’t been touched since 1980.

    If it had been followed, we would not have Obama in the White House.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    Sooo. You gonna go and vote again?

    The program can’t be wrong.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Thanks, KB.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    This was a major Q/A failure.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    THIS.

  • Wombat_socho

    The updates drive home the point I made in Friday’s post. We can’t keep reinventing the wheel at the national level every four years, we need to build solid organizations at the local level that the state and national candidates can rely on. GOTV is not rocket science and doesn’t need some kind of high-falutin’ software to make it work.

  • pcarro11

    They trusted Microsoft. Heh.

    Despite what Stacey might have to say about Java, they’d have been better off with a politically savvy team developing on Grails/Tomcat/MySQL, or with STS and Spring Web MVC/Tomcat/MySQL.

    But what do I know?

    (Oh. Right. “Politically savvy team.” Sorry ’bout that.)

  • KC

    Well Romney campaign purposefully shun Tea Party grassroot local precint campaign which propelled GOP to a majority in lieu of ORCA which proved to be the killer failure. The consevative base were simply refrain from voting R&R, as the GOP thumbed their nose on their base. All it tooks was a Sarah Palins’s tweet to reach millions of Tea Party faithful and the independence. Yet Romney’s old-school made a conscious effort to shun SP from RNC and tied her infulence on Tea Party grassroot which was the difference why the conservatives votes were far less than McCain/Palin.

  • Stevels

    My name is Steve Adler and I am the original architect and co-founder of the Democrat’s infamous “VoteBuilder” system. This is the Dem’s national “ground game” system that has been credited with those two silly Obama wins, and hundreds of thousands of smaller wins since 2001.

    The really shocking twist to this story is that I’ve been begging the RNC, Karl Rove and Romney’s people to use rVotes – my improved system – for conservatives only, since I sold my half of VAN, Inc. (now NGPVAN) Please understand – this system works! – it’s the most proven and ‘winningest’ campaign technology in the world. There are a number of reasons why more Republicans aren’t using rVotes against the very technology I created – none of the reason will make you proud. http://www.rvotes.com

  • crosspatch

    My opinion having been both a systems administrator and a network engineer in addition to being a Republican:

    For GOTV information, this should be a system built by the party, not by a campaign, and it should evolve over time. This Orca system could probably be fixed if the concept is sound. But it should be something that remains with the party and is used for elections at nearly every level, not just Presidential. We really DO need a system for this but as is mentioned in the article, it should be able to crosscheck and scratch off people who have already sent in their ballot.

    The thing is the system is going to need to be tweaked state by state. You almost need 50 different state modules feeding data into a central facility but this also gives you resilience because the outside doesn’t have direct access to the central system and any attempted attack would have to be aimed at individual state modules leaving the rest of the system operating. Those state modules might even need to be tweaked for each individual county. Again, potential for more resilience as each county feeding data to the state, each state feeding to the national you have less chance of an outside attack taking out the entire system.

    Using VMs is a cheap way to do things for temporary operations such as campaigns but I believe a compromise should be made here. The back end databases should be stand-alone machines that are permanently leased. The data collected on election day could be useful for a considerable amount of time and we have elections every two years. We could open the door here to national pushes for Congressional races that could be quite effective. The front ends could be rented VMs that are dynamic in nature in that more are spun up as the load increases. Those front ends should be light weight.

    There should be a clear backup plan for when the system fails. I don’t say “if” here, I say when. There might be a power outage on election day due to a windstorm or something, who knows. At the very least you can maintain current county “scratch lists” on an external hard drive that can be connected to a laptop and printer on a UPS and hard copies printed off and run to the precincts in an emergency or copied off to thumb drives and run to the precincts.

    The key point is to keep local GOTV a local responsibility. Do not rely on the national office to do ANYTHING to keep that effort going. If the national database or data collectors fail, the state and county offices keep right on running, the only thing that is delayed is data transmission to the national center. We need a distributed system that evolves and is refined from election to election so it gets better over time and is not reinvented from one campaign to the next. Campaigns should be expected to donate some resources to the system, though.

    This also points out the need for more people to get involved with their local county committees. I have heard a LOT of complaining about “the GOP” but I am willing to bet that in the vast majority of the country only a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the registered Republicans in any county or district are dues-paying members of their local Republican committee. We need more people with real world technical know-how involved in the party apparatus. People sit around and say “the GOP” should do this and “the GOP” should do that. I think if more people got involved with “the GOP” and actually became a constructive part of what is going on, it would make a huge difference.

    Are YOU a member of your county or regional GOP Committee? Dues in my county committee are $35 a year. I pay more than that to take me and my kids to a movie and I feel this is a lot more important.

    Going forward, we can’t let this happen again. We need to first of all engage with our local GOP and get people to the polls. Sitting around waiting for something to just magically happen by those who actually DO get involved means they are missing out on your expertise and life experience. And I don’t mean going to a meeting and just bitching their, either. I mean listen .. make constructive suggestions on how things can be improved. Pitch in a little. My county has a bit over 200,000 registered Republicans. I am willing to bet less than 1% of them are dues paying members of the county committee. Of those that are, probably only 10% actually do most of the work.

    We can fix this. We can make sure it doesn’t happen again. We have elections in 2 years for state legislatures and Congress and some Governors. I say “let’s roll”.

  • crosspatch

    ” Does anyone for a second doubt that these people were called multiple times and also received several door knocks?”

    Not a single call or door knock ever in my state. Granted, California isn’t exactly a swing state, but the local party was dead.

  • crosspatch

    Delivered to the users the day before election day? Are you nuts?

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • Coulter76

    Please tell me what part of the Reagan platform wasn’t espoused by Romney, and why it cost him the election?

    Lower taxes? Check. Cut Spending? Check. Strong National Defense? Check. Traditional Values/Prolife? check.

    The GOP’s biggest problem is the nation is much more secular than it was 30 years ago. Even Joe Biden used to be a pro-life Senator who called for an outright federal ban on abortion.

    I’m certainly not celebrating the nation changing, but it would be foolish to use politicians to try and save the nations’ soul. That comes from the ground up.

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  • nms lists

    Who ever wrote this article doesn’t know ANYTHING about GOTV or how political Parties and candidate campaigns work. Yes, Obama’s GOTV may have looked better, BUT he had 4, yes read that again, 4 years to organize and implement this, compared to 5-6 months for the Romney campaign.

    And given all this, Obama’s turnout, was far lower than in 2008. I don’t think it was really all that good.

    If you want to know more, I have a GOTV for beginners manual for you sitting on my bookshelf. Having run a few of these, I can tell you first hand they are logistical nightmares and take time to organize and implement. Basic question, how do you handle 5000 volunteers showing up in the last 2 weeks with only 25 or so full time staff? Think for a second the challenges with scale. This is Forbes for christ sake, not some dink crap magazine, like the New Republic or a Thomas Friedman column

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    Reagan was a fan of Ayn Rand’s work. He was also gifted at not allowing abortion and homosexuality questions to dog him on the campaign trail.

    He could articulate conservatism because he understood where it came from, and read the principle authors of conservative ideas. Romney clearly spent little time studying the actual philosophical aspects of conservative thinking. He, like Dole and McCain, was just a guy who ticked of certain platform positions, like you just did, and called it “conservatism.” Which is pure crap.

    If one never bothers to understand the basic philosophy behind the founding of the nation, and therefore why conservatives honor it, then one cannot explain it to people in such a way that they will ever understand it. Such a person is unable to answer questions about their own positions.

    That was Mitt’s problem all along, and was why a lot of Republicans—especially conservatives—did not want him as the nominee.

    We were proven correct, too.

    One cannot checklist one’s way into the conservative movement leadership. You have to take the time to learn what it actually means to be a conservative.

    Romney refused to do that. He pointedly refused to explain the reason why individual liberty and self sovereignty were better than “freedom” and free stuff.

    He sucked at it.

    Reagan didn’t suck at it. He showed how it’s done. Romney, McCain, Dole, and Bush I and II all refused to follow Reagan’s example.

    They were all “smarter” than Reagan, you see. Just like Joe Biden is “smarter than you”.

    If no one is going to even bother to study Reagan’s methods and learn what the hell they are talking about, I refuse to support them, period.

    And by the way, I am not a conservative. I studied enough about the political philosophy of conservatism to know I am not one. This is why it was obvious to me immediately that neither was Romney.

  • tobe preston

    When I first heard the conference call I thought it was “Nuts” and I heard another one; my gut instincts were this is one huge hoax. I never saw it as a success, yet I was training people on it. ONe guy, a potential volunteer in a battleground state who was employed as a software consultant said it was NUTS and he bet me it would be a catastrophe. Turned out, we were both right.
    It was never tested beforehand, it failed from the beginning to end. It never delivered.
    I am very curious to see what spin the Romney team give this debaucle because too many now want answers.

  • tobe preston

    Orca was a joke and I am curious to read the excuses these people have because they will be held accountable; it is rumored to have cost over 10 million bucks.

  • tobe preston

    These people need to be scrutinized very carefully and I expect the media to expose them and this debaucle called orca.

  • tobe preston

    you should have been hired; you sound smart as do a few more here. they were a bunch of fools and I hope some investigative reporter does their job. This should be a warning for another campaign not to use these people with lame ideas.

  • tobe preston

    What they produced in that failure called orca is one huge embarrassment, costs over 10 milllion, someone made money and somone was conned.

  • crosspatch

    I work in a tech firm in Silicon Valley. We call our software developers “bug writers” because we EXPECT code to be buggy on the first iteration. It is only through active use that a lot of these problems are discovered. You can’t even really QA properly other than a basic functional check because when software ships you find out that it ends up being used in a completely different way than you expected. The features that were not YOUR priority turn out to be customer priorities. Features you didn’t think of are requested. Things you thought would never be used turn out to be key to the customer.

    I’d say Romney campaign got hoodwinked. But more importantly, why isn’t the RNC now taking ownership of this going forward. It can probably be fixed. The Democrats had a similar problem in 2008 but they had a manual backup plan.

  • signalfire1

    So. The Bloated Party of Limbaugh, Rove, O’Reilly, Fox News and all the rest Dies by Harpooning of their State of the Art Orca? How fitting.

    Thanks for all the laughs, Romney. But this. This takes the cake for holiest of high holy debacles. The Mittster being scammed by people in the EXACT SAME FORMAT as he used to skim the cream off the companies he took over.

    Suck it, GOP. You denigrated Ron Paul. Laughed at Jon Huntsman’s knowledge of Mandarin and integrity. And worst of all, never gave Gary Johnson a chance, forced him over to the Libertarian ticket where you spent millions in lawyers and lawsuits trying to keep him off the ballot. All men that actually could have won the race, but Noooooo! You had to jam the Mormon twit down our throats. Mr. Ken and Barbie… You got what you deserved. Maybe Mitt should hold himself down and cut off his own hair as penance. And warn him not to go near the ocean at his property in La Jolla. The sea life may want revenge based on the damage this has done to one of their own’s reputations…

  • http://twitter.com/catfitz CatherineFitzpatrick

    I’m a first-time Republican president voter at the age of 56. I thought with Catholics like me crossing over to the Republicans, there might be a better showing. I don’t blame Orca for Romney’s loss, but I do think it has to be scrutinized and I do think that the larger issue of voting tools for our democracy and the neutrality and competence of those who develop them have to get a lot more attention than they do.

    I’ve been asking for accountability from the geeks on this road wreck from day one. The managers like Dan may be at fault for not grasping the complexities of an IT project and the need to do a lot more testing and get a lot more user-friendly procedures (PDFs aren’t user friendly; https isn’t really necessary for a site like this and both hobbled users).

    You don’t mention Zac Moffatt, but he was the digital director of the campaign. He came from the firm he helped found called Targeted Victory, and $17 million was spent by the campaign on their social media and web services. They are the ones who came up with two failed apps — the misspelled AMERCIA app that got howling reviews and diminished the profile of the social media revolution that was supposed to be wheeled out by Republicans finally, and the VP pick app, which was also an abysmal failure as a project.

    That firm didn’t develop Orca, and while success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan — we still don’t know who did develop and code and deploy Orca. Engineers are the ones who bear the first line of responsibility; their program managers skilled in software management are responsible for doing things like calling up Comcast before the day of show to clear the traffic surge.

    I’ve asked very pointed questions about why Moffett made the decision to hire Democratic developers — and gotten a tidal wave of hatred for doing that by geeks who think that they are neutral players creating a level playing field for us all. I don’t believe it for one minute, particularly because of their fury when I raise this question.

    Moffett hired Obama’s 2008 Campaign director of analytics; he hired Al Gore’s developer; he had apparent Obama supporters throughout the operation. Did they really work their utmost to ensure a win for Romney? Maybe they did; we’d all like to imagine there are professionals for that kind of price tag. But I ask the question again and again.

    Regardless of whether you think that crossover devs from your rivals really give you the grit and determination you need, the whole idea of outsourcing everything and spreading non-responsibility over half a dozen tenuous relationships was a disaster. Obama kept it all tightly under wraps inhouse. That’s what the GOP needs to do.

    Who actually worked on Orca? Sean Gallagher of Ars Technica seems to know and is guessing but hasn’t confirmed it. One rumour was Accenture, but they farm out to others; it’s not true that it was outsourced to an Indian firm (I checked). Another was that it is mindSHIFT, a company that does IT back-end work and got $811,000 out of the campaign budget according to Open Secrets.

    http://3dblogger.typepad.com/wired_state/2012/11/face-palm-romneys-digital-director-used-obamas-director-of-analytics.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/debby.berg Debby Berg

    Sorry guys, if you are asking these questions now then it wasn’t the devs who should be smacked for this. Looks like Centinello should be taken out to the woodshed for micromanagement. The buck was supposed to stop with him and it didn’t. It stopped on election day with the poor schmucks out in the field and the Repubs lost their behinds because of it. End of story. All the Monday morning quarterbacking in the world won’t change the fact that this was a monumental foul up and it can be layed directly at the feet of the authors of this screw up; Centinello and Mitt Romney. They both suffered from an unfounded arrogance in thinking that they could “reverse-engineer” POTUS’s success with computer driven campaign strategem and it was their undoing. A previous poster was correct; you cannot manage what you do not understand. Centinello knows didly squat
    about software and look what happened. They made themselves laughing stocks. In fact I heard a rumor somewhere that it took between 100 and 105 different passwords before they thought of hacking. Really? REALLY? Wow guys, if you couldn’t run a successful campaign what in the world made you think you could be the leaders of the free world?

  • http://www.facebook.com/debby.berg Debby Berg

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Remember these are the same people who had their transitional website up and operational the day after the election that they lost.Wonder if it was constructed by the same outfit that developed their user-specific software?

  • http://www.facebook.com/debby.berg Debby Berg

    Tobe – don’t count on it. Exposing this stuff falls to the “liberal media”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/debby.berg Debby Berg

    Get a grip lady. You obviously don’t understand a mind that lives to create software that truly levels the playing field. I am not surprised you were met with hostility. Think about how you asked the questions and from what part of your heart they came. Having worked among some of these people you so easily malign I can tell you that their fury is more justified than your disdain. They truly have no political allegiance other than binary code. They live in the world of the 1 and 0. That is the absolute they live by. Mitt Romney and Barak Obama mean next to nothing to these people. There are other leaders in their field to whom they pledge fealty so try again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/debby.berg Debby Berg

    And yet he lost and you chew on sour grapes………..

  • http://www.facebook.com/debby.berg Debby Berg

    Perhaps they do not understand that to the degree you and I do. When I first heard about this I was as appalled as you are. I happen to understand this but poiticians see computing as a finite science that has evolved only as far as they need it to function. They have no conception of the potential uses, misuses, security features or any of the features of VM computing. They talk a good game but they know next to nothing. That’s why they are politicians and consultants. They need to know more about the tools of their trade and they need to employ people who know them well enough to use them effectively. Somebody like you perhaps. Speaking as a Democrat (lifelong as the matter of fact) I can safely say that one of the reasons I have not voted across party lines in more than 30 years is the fact that intellect seems to have abandoned the Republican Party at about the same time Ronald Regan was elected and he allowed the Party to be co-opted by The Moral Majority. It would be a pleasure to see people like you running campaigns and running for office in the future. Tell the crazies to go home and take a Xanax and have a cup of coffee and calm down while the thinking Republicans return to the forefront of the party and speak in an intelligent voice we can all understand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/debby.berg Debby Berg

    I can figure out those reasons for myself. Makes me think it’s time to bleach the gene pool.