Leaders of the chamber’s Energy and Commerce Committee are pressing for public answers after the Obama administration and companies involved in the site's development and launch said the online health care exchange was “on track” for the October 1 start.
However, the site, which provides a menu of insurance plans for Americans in the 36 states without their own site, has instead been plagued by such problems as crashing under heavy user traffic, failing to let customers register or purchase plans and reportedly logging inaccurate information.
Committee Chairman Fred Upton began focusing on Secretary Sebelius after she went to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” last week to talk about the website.
“Secretary Sebelius had time for Jon Stewart, and we expect her to have time for Congress,” the Michigan Republican has repeatedly said.
The committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday that will focus on whether officials involved with the site “Didn't Know or Didn't Disclose” problems.
The NYT has more on the government's attempts to correct some of the problems:
One major problem slowing repairs, people close to the program say, is that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency in charge of the exchange, is responsible for making sure that the separately designed databases and pieces of software from 55 contractors work together. It is not common for a federal agency to assume that role, and numerous people involved in the project said the agency did not have the expertise to do the job and did not fully understand what it entailed.
And of course the classic problem,
Communications between the administration and contractors improved over the weekend as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began negotiating agreements with contractors on responsibility and deadlines for repairs, people involved in the project say. They hope to have a plan before a Congressional hearing set for Thursday. “The issue right now is between C.M.S. and the White House,” a specialist said Friday before communications improved. “Everybody sits and waits and the meter runs.”
The article discusses the prime, a Canadian firm,
CGI Federal, a unit of the CGI Group, based in Montreal, has the biggest contract and is responsible for the architecture of major parts of the system, but not for its integration. Quality Software Services Inc., or Q.S.S.I., a unit of the UnitedHealth Group, developed the identity management system, another major component that allowed consumers to register and establish accounts. The identity management system from Q.S.S.I., which also taps into government databases to retrieve users’ personal information, was a particular source of trouble when the exchange opened. Change orders show that on Oct. 4 — after millions of people had been trapped in technological loops trying merely to log in — the government asked CGI to help it devise a new identity management system to replace the one provided by Q.S.S.I. But specialists said that approach was abandoned as too risky. Ultimately it was decided to fix the current identity system.
Of course, I mentioned in a previous post the architecture and prototype I developed while detailed to MITRE, but that seems to have been ignored in favor of an off-shore solution. Which seems crazy, in these uncertain economic times. Why is the federal government going outside our borders for technological expertise of this nature?