Representation Darrell Issa (R.-California) received three memos from the committee overseeing the Obamacare site. The first memo dated 10.12.13 AM (linked at the end of the article) reflected only six enrollments had been completed on October 1. While the committee advised of the enrollments they seemed to know little else, including if those enrollees would receive subsidies. Now in a struggle to overcome issues and boost enrollment, the committee is reportedly reaching out to tech experts from the private sector to help ease the issues from the website.
Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius seems to know very little. She did underscore the “glitches” as a real factor of issues. The baffled representative went under oath before Congress and claimed “We do not have any reliable data around enrollment, which is why we haven’t given it to date.” In all honestly, if any one person touted the success of a bill to only have 6 people sign up in its launch, it can be expected some cover-up would occur. To dilute the significant network issues with the Obamacare web access, the White House is reaching out for eyebrow raising assistance.
Per Bloomberg, Julie Bataille, spokesperson for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services advised on a conference call that reaching out to the private sector was a normal reaction. The administration wants to streamline the process and work out the kinks that are faring unfavorably to citizens who are accessing the site. Sebelius has a deadline before Congress to draw up raw data of enrollment by mid-November. Oracle’s CEO, Larry Ellison is tossing experts at the problem seeing it beyond politics, but a technology problem to cure. Google reliability engineer, Michael Dickerson is on leave and has been contacted for assistance. In addition, Greg Gershman the tech brain behind the popular Mobomo brand is slated to offer his hand as well.
The administration has a lofty goal, to enroll 7 million citizens by March 1, 2014. To this considerable number, the site would have to accumulate 39,000 enrollments daily. Some issues plaguing citizens include a big factor; unable to create a sign-in or go beyond the front page. A reported 8.6 million individuals did visit the site during its first week of release. With the involvement of the private sector tech geniuses, Bataille is leaning towards “better user experiences while interacting with government.”
Who’s to blame for mass failure of connectivity and network outages? Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the U.S. Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hedges on placing direct blame anywhere. During her own testimony before Congress, Tavenner did issue an apology to the trying patience of American citizens from sea to shining sea, “To the millions of Americans who have attempted to use Healthcare.gov to shop and enroll in health care coverage, I want to apologize to you that the Website has not worked as well as it should.”
CMS is the department tasked with creating the site. To do so, the agency selected the main contractor behind the Obamacare development; CGI Federal and Quality Software Services Inc. is the main contractor. UnitedHealth’s QSSI unit is tasked with collecting information from other government agencies, like the IRS for reliable information. The contracting companies shifted the blame back to CMS reportedly stating it was the agency’s lack of testing that contributed to the issues and flaws millions have encountered.
On a blog post dated October 31, Bataille implored the patience of citizens by touching on the following items for increase enrollment and smooth processes:
- Touting lead experts from Red Hat and Oracle for a review of site reliability and scalability.
- Dickerson is working directly with QSSI to increase performance and the reliability of the site.
- Gershman is working with CGI to make the site more “agile” states Bataille in the blog post.
- The blog has mentions two dozen engineers and developers who are working side by side to bring the site back to full, functioning use. A finalized date of November 30 has been given.
Issues have plagued the Obamacare site as millions visit the site for curiosity, frustration and hoping on lower cost exchanges. Administrators responsible for overseeing the site creation are assuring the public, steps are in place to deliver a cohesive experience. Private sector tech experts are now working closely with contractors to deliver a streamlined experience. To avoid further backlash from critics, delivering a fine-tuned site with reliable results is mandatory from the administration. By March 31 if uninsured citizens are not enrolled penalties starting from 1 percent of annually incomes will be assessed.
Written by Angelina Bouc