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Thing is, I didn't read anywhere that the code itself was bad - just very bad deployment. No load balancer, no scalability, a local server (never heard of AWS?), no http->https redirect, no real use training, no dry runs, nothing. The RNP should have done this themselves before the primaries and used those as 50 real world beta tests instead of leaving it to the individual candidate.

Prokofy Neva

But this is the company, and these are the guys, who would write AND test the code. Why didn't they test it and make it user friendly?

I read about all these issues too.

Why do we even use https, given this nuisance factor! It's not a banking site! They could always have the campaign sight as one thing, and then from that, have the link to the donation site with the https if that's the issue, but why use https AT ALL? There is too much cultic worship of https.

Why the PDFs, as I said, built-in user frustration.

The RNP in this case consists of Zac Moffat, the digital director.

Red State has the fullest article on this of anybody, for obvious reasons. They take a different tack, however, in looking at these same tekkie consultants and just finding them venal and lazy and in it for the money:

"o what caused the breakdown and why didn’t it get fixed in time? Well according to sources who worked closely with the program, the blame is at the feet of consultants.

Specifically Targeted Victory, FLS Connect, and The Stevens and Schriefer Group. While the Romney campaign did work with other consultants, they were apparently not part of the problem.

They say that the truth is the consultants essentially used the Romney campaign as a money making scheme, forcing employees to spin false data as truth in order to paint a rosy picture of a successful campaign as a form of job security.

Zac Moffatt, Digital Director for the Romney campaign, was specifically named as having “built a nest egg for himself and co-founder of Targeted Victory, Mike Beach,” and that they “didn’t get social” media and ignored objections from other consultants and staffers in the campaign."

So we may have another narrative -- the two devs on whose shoulders this rested, despite their Obama-voter status, may have tried to do their job, but their bosses didn't listen to them. Hmmm.

The two other consulting groups don't have computer experts in them because they were working on analysis and other aspects of the campaign. So its Targeted Victory, Zac's group.

debra maxwell davies

Nice going guys. The Obama campaign had metrics down to a T, and it took them over the top, but Mr. "I should be president because of my Incredible Business Expertise's IT guys FAILED completely.So the problem couldn't have been incompetence, it had to be sabotage.

Prokofy Neva

It could be sabotage OR incompetence. Read what I wrote. Take your pick. I'm asking the question and looking for more information. Looks to me like the kind of sabotage that comes when tekkies are arrogant and casual and negligent and have no consideration for their client or the public. There are so many layers of shirking of accountability here. And when the digital director can't own the screw-up and keeps talking about how he had "good data" coming in, that lets me know that he isn't caring about Romney winning the campaign so much as buffing his resume with a high profile client. He didn't have enough computer guys on this job, it looks like, and enough firepower.


seems obama team developed their tools inhouse... romney outsourced thinking they would get the latest tech... obamas systems were 4 years old.. in the making..

beta or obsolete... lets hear it for the old.:)

my money is on "unfinished" the Bain..ha ha... of 99% ha ha of software projects.

Amanda Dallin

Out of date and functional is better than cutting edge that doesn't work.

Whether or not there was sabotage from the IT guys or if it was just incompetence then Romney and his top people screwed up by not catching it.

Romney would have been better than what we have but he was hardly the best choice for President.

Prokofy Neva

I think that technology can only do so much -- it should be in human hands instead of humans being in its hands helplessly, of course.

The Republicans don't have social movements, except the fringe movements of either the Tea Party or their various Libertarian cult groups, whether Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. And they aren't really countable in the GOP -- except that the Dems invoke their fringes as a way to discredit the party.

They don't really organize in the "community organizing" way that the Marxists learned to do long, long ago in the days of Port Huron or even long before -- learning from the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks knew everything from the Long March Through the Institutions to the displacement method to the popular front method to the identity politics method -- all of these have been used by the left -- and of course the Saul Alinsky methods which are the Bolshevik methods modified for America.

The lefty groups are going out now and helping the hurricane victims. My elected assemblyman and his people are walking up 30 flights of stairs in our complex without power and bringing water. Do you think I'm going to vote for some Republican up town who sat out the hurricane in his penthouse, or that guy who humped up the stairs? These are the basics of human life and ward-heeling and politics, and the left has it down to a science.

None of the conservatives groups -- hell, not even some of the *religious* groups -- have been out working the hurricane. A mystery to me -- the Salvation Army is not visible. I don't get this. They don't do floods? Surely they are there, but I don't see them. Whereas they were the first on the scene on 9/11, I will never forget them then.

Sean Gallagher

I have found no proof that Targeted Victory developed the code for Orca. Gallegos is a social media developer, and has no experience dealing with mobile web apps, so it would be very unusual for him to be tasked with this (especially given how much money was spent on it). My sources say it was Accenture that built the app, but I'm trying to get confirmation.

Prokofy Neva


You don't have a denial that Targeted Victory *didn't* develop ORCA, *either*.

So I will continue asking questions about this.

And even if they didn't develop ORCA -- I totally get it that they may do a different line of development work judging from their clients' and job lists -- it's still the right question to ask. Why indeed do they have Al Gore's dev working on Romney's social media development?! Truly, how can they expect dedication?

It's indicative of a completely casual and remote attitude toward the task at hand that Moffat could manage things this way -- after all, he was the digital director and should have run a tighter ship.

You comment on Gallegos and don't comment on the other two I've mentioned.

If it were Accenture, you're the only reporter saying this -- but Accenture may be good at hiding its tracks.

If it *is* Accenture, I'd look very carefully at the devs there and their resumes and don't doubt you'll find more Obama voters there, too.

Again, why do you have people who worked on Al Gore's campaign working on Romney's campaign? I mean, that's just whack.

Prokofy Neva

At Ycombinator's forum, a good place to go for geek gossip, there's this comment from an anonymous poster:

gautamc 2 days ago | link

Someone told me that Accenture build it in India - poetic justice, I'd think, if that was indeed true.

Prokofy Neva

Political Freakshow says it may have been "outsourced to India"

The rumor in some tech lists is that the Romney campaign outsourced the development of Orca to Avanade, a branch of Accenture, which is heavy in the use of developers in India, China, the Philippines, Spain, Morocco, Argentina and Slovakia. It seems that the Romney campaign was so paranoid that the Obama campaign might learn something about their application - they did no actual training on it and didn’t turn it on until election day.

Prokofy Neva

This is a useful comment as well "blame Comcast" is the default tekkie belief, however:

xwindowsjunkieArs Centurionet Subscriptor
reply 3 days ago
twdog wrote:
Dilbert wrote:
Anyhow..... only 57,000 users TOTAL? HAHAHA! That's a small-ish user base. The code their devs cranked out must have been incredibly inefficient to choke on just that many users.


When you consider the MASSIVE amounts of money both parties were putting out, the amount of people involved, and that Romney HQ considered this mission critical ... it's shocking how poorly it was done.

57k isn't nothing, but it's very manageable number that should be easily met. I'm not sure how much of it was code issues, it sounds like the infrastructure was horribly designed. They were running on a comcast connection? 11 DB servers to 1 web server? wtf?

This kind of app screams to be run on AWS or Azure ... it's already a web app ... Easy dynamic spin up of more servers, massive bandwidth, multiple data centers ...

These are solved problems. Why weren't they doing this the correct way?

They "low-balled" it. They waited until they thought they had the APP finished by their OUTSOURCED programming service. (That tells me all I need to know about the Mit and how he would work as president. This is the one time I feel like I voted for the right guy to be president.)

They bought Xfinity ComCast business service, likely the only ISP network service they could get on short notice. The number of servers sounds like a Microsoft suggested configuration for SQL DB service for the number of expected SQL query sources. (Having just gone through SQL Server MCP testing.) They could have made ComCast aware of the expected type of service profile they were going to run but didn't. The service shutdown sounds EXACTLY like an automatically defensive move by ComCast ISP servers. If I was in charge of ComCast's servers, and saw thousands of packets of traffic coming from all over the US hammering on a SINGLE IP address doing SQL queries, most of them NOT getting connected properly, and without any notice from the customer, I'd think it was a SQL injection attack combined with a DDoS.

Something the Romney Camp forgot or probably didn't know was that orca orca will kill and eat their own from other pods, other Orcas.

Rex Cronon

if Rick Santorum had 4chan members working on his staff( than it is possible that at least some of those that developed ORCA were also part of the same group.

Another person who should get blame is Dan Centinello of the Checkmate Company. They hosted the ORCA app.

Prokofy Neva

I've seen his name mentioned in the various accounts of the melt-down, where he was personally trouble-shooting. But he is always described as "deputy political director" of the Romney campaign, not as a consultant in another company. And his linked-in describes him that way.

Centinello was Chris Christie's field director for his gubernatorial campaign in 2009 for 6 months.

And he stretches back to Schwarzenegger -- at least we don't see Al Gore in this resume!

Slate called the campaign out on outsourcing back in July:

"Romney’s digital department has gone on a summertime personnel spree, hiring former employees of Apple, Google Analytics, Ominture, and—in the case of the new manager of Romney’s online store— (A cluster of newly hired engineers have been permanently situated in Utah, partially to exploit the time difference when working on overnight projects.) But the bulk of the online analytics come from commercially available services marketed by outside firms. Web ads are largely directed through segments packaged by the company Lotame based its own online-behavioral models. Other vendors have been enlisted for their boutique products, as ClickZ has reported: Pulpo for profiles of Hispanic sub-segments online, and Say Media for online video targeted at voters who do not watch much television and are hard to reach through traditional ads. "I don't think we thought, relative to the marketplace, we could be the best at data in-house all the time,” says Moffatt. “Our idea is to find the best firms to work with us."

Sean Gallagher

Actually, I do have an explicit denial that Targeted Victory or any of the other firms working for Moffatt on the Digital side were involved in Orca.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

That's good, but I don't see that you've reported it yet.

Meanwhile, the Daily Caller has:

And the question still remains: why is Al Gore's dev on ANY social media or ap or website job for the Romney campaign!

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Avanade has told me on Twitter that they did NOT work on the ORCA project.



"but why use https AT ALL? There is too much cultic worship of https."

To have secure login that can't be sniffed? Is this a serious question?

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Yes it is a serious question.

We all had log-in that was secure enough in the days before https was so promiscuously used, you know?

And when you have a situation where you have massive user input by people who *already* have a pre-assigned pin to even log in with, why the https hobble? What does it really do for you?

And...what's the point of sniffing? These are public records. They couldn't get the voting rolls if they weren't public. So it's really more about a clerical exercise, not something secret.

Peter Wolf

Funny, anything that goes wrong with the country, is blamed on Obama, regardless. Yet apparently, Romney, the great manager type, doesn't get blamed for the failings in his own campaign. How very quaint.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Well, things that go wrong with the country should be blamed on Obama, he's the top dog -- like Benghazi.

As for Romney, I take seriously the critique of him at Bain. I looked patiently at all the hate youtubes on this, and I read the New Republic articles carefully and was very concerned about Bain. In fact, I wasn't going to vote for Romney at first.

Then I read the article in the Wall Street Journal that patiently debunked all the left wing hysteria and prevarication about Romney at Bain, so that you could see that this steel mill that was held up as destroyed by Bain was in fact bailed out by it, and the steel market tanked worldwide, and it was hard to keep afloat. Obama really stooped low when he claimed a woman died of cancer over Bain.

I also take seriously the charge the Romney can't manage things, possibly not modern things. That was a reason why I didn't vote for McCain, he was too old, and too unable to cope with the modern world. The fact is, I like McCain better than Obama and his political positions are closer to mine, but Obama was the younger, stronger, more energized and idealistic candidate and that won my vote.

I'm not persuaded that Romney himself or his managerial ability caused Orca. I think he had a trusted digital manager -- he's not some troglodyte, he was governor of a state and had digital people working for him. He ran the Olympics.

I think that the people he trusted failed to perform, out of vanity, negligence or not really being all that into him. That part is what I think is the story.

So you didn't persuade me by snarking.

Peter Wolf

So why is everyone looking for someone to blame for the alleged failings in Orca. Romney was the top dog in his campaign was he not? Good for the goose, good for the gander. Let Romney take the blame for his campaigns failings, you need look no further.

Oh, and by the way, Romney would not have won if Orca was 100%. The polls (unless one was living in the conservative media bubble) for far too long had Obama in the lead, so did the betting sites. The simple fact of the election was that the majority of voters, and electoral college, went for Obama.

Blame what you will, but that is the simple reality.


So true.

How can we trust these blacks? White power!

Catherine Fitzpatrick

It's not about "trusting blacks" as that's irrelevant, and I don't believe in anything related to "white power".

It's about whether or not Obama voters can do a good job for Romney's campaign.

It's a fair and just question to ask.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

The discussion of whom or what to blame for Romney not getting elected is a larger one, and one on all the big blogs, so I don't need to reiterate it.

As for Romney himself, this was a telling remark at Red State, which noticed these tweets:

Murdoch: “Met Romney last week. Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful.”

CEO Jack Welch: "Hope Mitt Romney is listening to Murdoch advice ont campaign staff..playing in league with Chicago pols..No room for amateurs did not have the savvy or experienced campaign staff to take him past the primaries and through the national election."

I guess Romney was too provincial for these big figures like Murdoch.

But that's not the topic here. The topic is *who did the software and who is directly to blame for the software not working*.

Whether or not he would win is not something I'd trust you to judge, as you didn't vote for him and don't care. But I'm interesting in process and fairness, and I want to study how to get it. I would not get it from Obama voters unless they are exceptional individuals.

When the vote is 51/48, you don't keep nattering about majorities and bubbles. It's a split.

Peter Wolf

"It's about whether or not Obama voters can do a good job for Romney's campaign.

It's a fair and just question to ask."

Ergo, the Republicans can't do a good job for the country. It's a fair and just question to ask.

Joe P.

You posted four updates to basically admit that your initial premise is full of shit and that you don't know anything that you claim to know?

Your blog sucks.


First, what was the backup plan? What great leader doesn't plan for failure?
Secondly, had they had a backup plan, using the old fashion strike lists, just maybe a centralized OP center could have been in contact with the field leaders and the switch would have been seamless. They didn't. Field workers were left to their own devices, which was with zero backup paperwork or contact.
Thirdly, why would anyone want such a failure to pretend being a world leader?

It's rather obvious, the right guy lost because he couldn't lead his troops to get out the vote for himself. Did he think unicorns would just magically give him the vote totals for a win?

Blame Romney, blame the GOP and call it a day. Demand answers from them for your grief, but blaming outsourced labour for this loss is rather short-sighted. Very short-sighted to be exact. Moles, ghosts, and bogeymen didn't cause Mitt to lose. Mitt ran an awful campaign all the way to the finish. Where is Mitt now, he's left you to wander around loss in the woods searching for answers he should have given you.

My gosh.


It's pretty clear Romney lost because his platform was nebulous and wishy-washy and he has the social skills of a mop.

You're missing the forest for the lichen.


So I guess this means that Romney really won? BWAAAHAHAHAHAHA -- you guys are so cute when you're butthurt.

But there's all these things that don't make sense to me...

It's A CONSPIRACY!!!! A conspiracy I tells ya - otherwise the slick business mogul would have won! It's a CONSPIRACY!

cube inada

there were loopholes in the programs..what they were i cant tell you.. you'd pick them each apart.- but believe me, they will create 12 million jobs.
mitt ;)

anyhow... software usually doesnt work.


You have uncovered a vile nest of WRECKERS!!!

Good job Comrade!


What's the big "mystery" - the Romney campaign refuses to name the company that rolled this out because it was Avanade - Accenture's Indian division.
That's right kiddies - Mittens did it the Bain way - offshored American jobs for cheap labor.
He would have done to this country what he did to his own campaign. He is a born-rich failure whose only "work" has been to sit in offices and sign papers the people his daddy hired handed him - that and being the failed, universally hated one term governor of Mass.
Your boy is a loser - quit blaming reality for the fact that he lost.

cube inada

vegitarian's working at mcdonalds?
i saw the ars technibabble site forums... geez.. youve stepped fully into MIPs territory...

tech accelerates and amplifies... and nothing one can "say" will stop the bleeding...

best to be obtuse and appear crazy online.... its the only way to win.
unless you own the machines. and alot of them.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

@Joe. P No, I posted four updates because answers to the questions I raised began to come in. It's ok to ask questions in a democratic society with a free press, you know? Do you ever post updates and corrections to your blog or do you just post anonymous comments? My initial premise isn't full of shit. My premise that Al Gore's dev may not do the best job for the Romney campaign stands, as the other ap for the VP Pick also failed, and Romney also lost, which means every aspect of the Internet facet of the campaign has to be examined.

Also, we still have no answers about who developed Orca and what went wrong.

@Peter Wolf The election was very close, so I don't think it's a plebiscite on whether Romney can do a good job or not. I don't think you'd have a problem admitting that if Newt Ginrich's developer was hired for Obama's work, you'd get less than spectacular results. His heart wouldn't be in it.

@ratzo Sure, there should have been redundancy and back-up plans. That really is something the program managers on a coding job should organize and marketing and other bosses should demand. In fact, they had old-fashioned strike lists in some cases where their plan failed and workers still got frustrated as the phones were clogged. A centralized op center *was* in touch. But in fact centralization may have been the problem as it led to serial instead of parallel processing. Centralization requires enormous mobilization and discipline of the troops -- maybe Obama's centralization worked for that reason. Romney had more diverse followers and a lot of the volunteers are angry at the campaign's centralization.

I don't want to live in a society where people lose elections because the IT workers don't do their jobs for them. And that's the society you portray, one in which geeks get to decide elections by making technology work or not making it work. That's scary. Thanks for putting it so starkly though, that's helpful.

Er, I'm not lost in the wilderness whatsoever, as my life doesn't depend on what a presidential candidate does or doesn't do. I look forward to voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, because she doesn't have the animosity and aversion to business and capitalism that Obama does, even with her lefty past. I'm quite sure the Democratic candidate in 2016 will not be as suffused with the DSA politics as they will be more demonstrably visible as failures by then, but Dems won't want to lose power so they will move ever so slightly toward the center.

@Mike I liked all those images you used in your comment. I'm going to use them myself soon!

@But there's There isn't a conspiracy unless you count covering up the failures of coders and program managers on IT jobs a conspiracy. So PS why can't we find out who they are? We are finding out who the CIA chief emailed in his secret sex life and finding out about social hostesses and FBI agents and even the NATO guy. And what, we can't find out who the coders were on Romney's job? Please.

@John Avanade denied that they worked on Orca. They answered me publicly, on Twitter. I believe them. A company like that couldn't afford to lie about a thing like that. Accenture doesn't only use Avanade. And yes, that would indeed tend to shore up your notions of Romney if he outsourced *this* job! I totally agree. P.S. Could you give up that i-phone of yours? It's made by outsourced labour in China and other overseas countries. Insist that it be made in this country, and pay more for it, damn it. This country needs jobs! Oh, and if you have problems with any software product, could you stop calling overseas to India and other call centers? Because we need jobs in this country. Insist that they move the call centers back home and pay more for your products! Thanks!


I don't have an iPhone. I do, however, have a reasoning mind. And a reasoning mind employs a device called Occam's razor (or, properly, Ockham's razor, after the Earl of Ockham, who originated the concept) - that concept being that out of any number of explanations for a phenomena, the simplest and most obvious is usually the correct one.
And in this instance, the most obvious "culprit" is incompetence - incompetence from a man who has NEVER DEMONSTRATED ANYTHING ELSE IN LIFE.
He wanted a thing of a class of things he stupidly regarded to be "all the same" - so he bought the cheapest one he could. That's the Bain Capital way - and it was what he had planned for America. Consider yourself lucky he lost - we all are.


Even if your conspiracy theory were true-- it depends upon Team Romney FAILING TO BETA TEST THE SYSTEM BEFORE THE ELECTION. This is so breathlessly stupid and incompetent they deserve to lose for it alone.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Yes, we get all that, Lise. But beta test planning is part-and-parcel of any IT job that coders and program managers of coders -- IT specialists -- are in charge of. Why didn't THEY set this up. Marketing consultants need to know to demand this, and they did.

In fact, Zac Moffat -- the digital director -- mumbles as his excuse that they *did* beta-test -- but only in Boston conditions and not in national conditions.

Catherine Fitzpatrick


Obama is a community organizer and college professor with a warmed-over stealth-socialist ideology he got from DSA and other similar organizations with which he worked his entire life. He was chosen by Democrats who thought he would be the perfect candidate for their agenda to take back power after Bush. They were right. I voted for him.

But he isn't some great manager and he has no understanding whatsoever of business. He hates business and rich people. He thinks the job of governemnt is to skim off taxes from rich people and redistribute them to the rest of us. He has no idea how to generate or protect wealth so that society continues. It's a failed ideology and has always failed wherever it is attempted, and that means even in Sweden, under more ideal conditions.

Meanwhile Romney is someone who has run a state; he has run the Olympics; and he has run a business. All of this is about thinking how to generate and preserve wealth and jobs, not redistribute. Massachusetts might have higher taxse but it isn't a socialist state like Vermont.

If you can demonstrate that Accenture outsourced the Orca job, you may convince even me. But we haven't gotten that evidence in yet.

I don't buy the hysterical narrative of the Dems on Bain with all the attack ads, because I read the WSJ along with the Nation:

GST Steel would have failed much earlier without Bain.


HAHAHA we liberals SABOTAGED your ORCA system!







JD Sender

Any beginning level project manager knows to performing a stress-test on a critical application. "beta-tested in a different environment" is usually followed by a validation run proving the system works 'in production'. Orca failed because it was managed by amateurs, not sabotaged by a lone techie.
The voters got it right: Mitt is not ready for prime time. Sorry

Catherine Fitzpatrick

But the manager is a techie himself, JD. And there weren't "lone techies" here, he had a staff of 80. They know all this.

The question is why they didn't do more testing, or why they did, and didn't get quality.

I will continue to demand the name of the company, developers, and the story of what happened. Neither Ars Technica or Zac Moffatt are credible sources about this failure as Ars is covering up for geekdom and Zac is naturally going to cover his own ass.


Here's a great idea! When a candidate loses blame the techs who didn't work on the app that didn't have anything to do with the loss! Brilliant! Let's publicize all their names and addresses! Why? If the party you've only recently switched to doesn't win, everyone not involved should lose their means to exist.

Logic, you're doing it wrong.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

No, here's an idea: ask questions of the digital manager of the campaign *who is from that company*.

Ask questions of the company that *did other failed aps for that campaign*.

Ask questions, because *these people know who *did* work on Orca but they are not talking*.

Targeted Victory and Zac Moffett likely shouldn't ever work on a Republican campaign again. That's because they did a terrible job. Their candidate didn't just lose; they had some screw-ups.

Now, Targeted Victory may not be responsible for Orca, but Moffett is and the mysterious outsourced people are, and that needs unearthing.

Gee this is much harder than it needs to be. That's because you're not willing for companies or coders to take responsibility for what they do, and you think it's fine that they just slurp up money from wealthy campaigns and go their merry way.

Look At This

Hi to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more from this web site, and your views are nice in favor of new people.

Foo Bar

Dear 3D Catfish or whoever you are, turns out it was Romney's own staff.

You're welcome.

Signed, random geek from Ars Technica.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

It doesn't matter. There were enough Obama devs and Obama supporters in this mix that shouldn't have been there, that every Republican campaign has to think this issue through completely.

Pull up Banners

Probably, it might be a huge reason why Romney didn't win the Presidential election a week ago. But everything is done anyway, no reason to be sulking of the past. Just give credit to the marketing strategies that the current president has employed because it's a winning one.

justin bieber shoes

I am another traditional Latin Mass Catholic for Israel and against barbarism.

"It passed almost unnoticed, but last month Benedict XVI significantly upped the ante in an argument he’s made one of his pontificate’s centerpieces. To the horror, one suspects, of some professional interfaith dialoguers and wishful-thinkers more generally, the pope indicated the Church should recognize that some types of religion are in fact “sick and distorted.”

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