"Here we are in 2014 and we still don’t have a good online tool for producers to communicate and file applications on the simplest of programs (okay there are no simple programs)."Now I don't know how complex the ACA health insurance program is, as compared to the FSA programs. Obviously there were problems with the software last October, and I gather it's still incomplete as far as payments goes. But HHS only had a few years to get the software done and tested, while FSA has had over 20 years since the idea was floated. I'm really p****d at the botched rollout of healthcare.gov; it's almost enough to make me regret my political allegiance. But I guess if I'm going to be fair, I should admit that compared to USDA/FSA HHS looks pretty good. (That's probably the first and last compliment HHS will ever receive on their IT implementation.)
It's easy to argue I'm comparing apples and oranges, because I think administering the insurance program will be handled by the insurance company, not by the healthcare.gov website. And the philosophical question is simple: do you want to maximize efficiency or employment in rural areas. If the former, then go the way some of the loan programs did--centralize administration in St. Louis. If the latter, become friends with the senators and representative and fight to keep all offices open.
I suspect we'll continue to muddle our way down the road, closing some offices, doing some modernization, trying to reach both goals: efficiency and rural life.