Hatch Release: Internal Watchdog Confirms Administration’s ‘Missteps’ Led to Botched HealthCare.gov Rollout

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) highlighted a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) which detailed a case study into the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) management of the rollout of the federal marketplace and HealthCare.gov. 

The report found “HHS and CMS made many missteps throughout development and implementation that led to the poor launch,” and identified an “absence of clear leadership, which caused delays in decisionmaking, lack of clarity in project tasks, and the inability of CMS to recognize the magnitude of problems as the project deteriorated,” as additional problems.  Chairman Hatch issued the following statement on the report:

“Today, the Obama Administration’s own oversight chiefs confirm what has long been said by Republicans in Congress:  the administration’s commitment to launching HealthCare.gov trumped known concerns about its security, integrity and workability.  The result, as we now know, left many to navigate a taxpayer-funded website that was unsecure and plagued with performance problems. And even today, as recent reports from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office have shown, this administration continues to put politics ahead of security in regards to the Obamacare website, leaving taxpayers and patients at risk.”

Additional findings from the OIG report include:

  • Administration officials were “eager to launch HealthCare.gov despite concerns shortly before launch, and were optimistic about its success.”
  • “CGI Federal reported that it did not request additional time or formally request that CMS delay the launch because it believed CMS would not delay due to the White House’s public commitment to launch on October 1, 2013.”
  • “HHS and CMS missteps included devoting too much time to developing policy, which left too little time for developing the website; making poor technical decisions; and failing to properly manage its key website development contract.”
  • “CMS’s organizational structure and culture also hampered progress, including poor coordination between policy and technical work, resistance to communicating and heeding warnings of “bad news,” and reluctance to alter plans in the face of problems.”
  • “CMS continued on a failing path to developing HealthCare.gov despite signs of trouble, making rushed corrections shortly before the launch that proved insufficient. These structural, cultural, and tactical deficiencies were particularly problematic for HealthCare.gov given the significant challenges of implementing a new program involving multiple stakeholders and a large technology build.”

Hatch has conducted rigorous oversight of the Obama Administration’s health law, including HeathCare.gov.  In June 2014 Hatch, along with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), issued a joint report detailing the failed rollout HealthCare.gov, which shared a number of findings similar to those in the HHS OIG report.