Kin Lane has been evangelizing the role and importance of APIs for years. Recently, his reputation as an authority in the API space earned him the attention of the U.S. government. Last summer, he left behind his t-shirt and bushy beard for a suit, tie and the opportunity to guide the development of APIs across U.S. government agencies as the Chief API Consultant to the White House.
No small thing, it all seemed to be going pretty smoothly until the government shutdown hit and Lane not only found himself without a paycheck for weeks, he also met a level of bureaucracy that annoyed every fiber of his API evangelizing ideals. As with so many government services that stopped when the funding dried up, so did the APIs—APIs people had come to depend on. Although he recently resigned from this position, Lane is still advising some federal agencies and has continued to speak openly about his take on the whole Healthcare.gov debacle.
We caught up with him at the API Strategy and Practice conference he helped organize in San Francisco last week. As you can imagine, his take on what went wrong with Healthcare.gov is far more complex, nuanced and closer to the mark than most of the responses you might find across the Web.
What do you think? Are these kinds of issues inevitable in such a large project, or is there a fundemental issue with the way the federal government handles software projects as a whole?