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Firm Warned HHS Website Wouldn’t Be Ready

From the Washington Post:

Private consultants warned of risks before HealthCare.gov’s Oct. 1 launch

By Juliet Eilperin and Sandhya Somashekhar | November 18, 2013

The Obama administration brought in a private consulting team to independently assess how the federal online health insurance enrollment system was developing, according to a newly disclosed document, and in late March received a clear warning that its Oct. 1 launch was fraught with risks.

The analysis by McKinsey & Co. foreshadowed many of the problems that have dogged HealthCare.gov since its rollout, including the facts that the call-in centers would not work properly if the online system was malfunctioning and that insufficient testing would make it difficult to fix problems after the launch.

For the record, Chelsea Clinton ‘worked’ for McKinsey and company for about three years, starting in 2003. (Well,let’s say she collected a huge salary from them.)

The report was provided to The Washington Post by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In other words, it’s a story from the Republicans in the House. The news media would never have ferreted this out on its own.

This risk assessment, which was encapsulated in a 14-slide presentation, was delivered to senior White House and Department of Health and Human Services officials in four briefings between March 28 and April 8, the committee said.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Marilyn Tavenner, then acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS); and White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park attended a session about the report on April 4 at HHS headquarters. Obama health policy adviser Jeanne Lambrew and then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Mark Childress received a briefing April 8 at the White House.

And yet Ms. Sebelius and company continued to claim the website was ready in all of her subsequent appearances.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who chairs the panel’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said the presentation suggests that, in the run-up to its fall debut, the enrollment system was more troubled than administration officials have let on.

“Despite assurances from Secretary Sebelius, Marilyn Tavenner and [CMS official] Gary Cohen that all was well and on track with the launch of the Affordable Care Act, we now have documents dating back to April that call into question the assertions made to this committee,” Murphy said…

Well, we now know that everyone in the Obama administration was eager to knowingly lie for the cause.

One slide notes that the policy and requirements of a program are best defined at the outset, leaving sufficient time for testing and revision. By contrast, McKinsey noted, the federal marketplace’s design was marked by “evolving requirements” that shifted throughout the design phase, leaving scant time to test the system before its launch.

It also warned that the federal government largely depended on contractors to construct the marketplace, and that it lacked an overall “end-to-end operational view” of the system to ensure that its different parts worked well together…

The consulting firm suggested that some of the project’s troubles occurred because there was “no single empowered decision-making authority,” or person in charge, who could make changes or define what constituted success.

One industry source close to the project, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter frankly, said this lack of an overarching project leader complicated the system’s development because contractors received “absolutely conflicting direction between the various entities within CMS.”

Gee, what a surprise. No one in government wants to take responsibility.

McKinsey suggested some ways to mitigate the risk, including creating a “version 1.0” that was fully tested before the project was finished and assigning a single leader to oversee its implementation. It urged federal officials to set “shared metrics for success” on April 12, more than five months before the rollout.

The administration did not develop metrics to evaluate the site’s performance until late October, The Post reported Sunday…

But they said they did everything McKinsey recommended. Was that a lie, too?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

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