This is on us, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during his Thursday briefing. And that goes from the president on down. This website needs to work effectively for the American people. And we need to get the product that they so clearly desire to them as efficiently and effectively as possible.
At the hearing, Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president of CGI Federal, the contractor that designed and developed the federal marketplace, testified that the system passed eight technical reviews before going live on Oct. 1. She said her team never suggested delaying the site launch because that decision was up to HHS, which served as the site development manager.
Our portion of the application worked as designed, Campbell told Upton during direct questioning.
But in earlier testimony, she said, We acknowledge that issues arising in the federal exchange made the enrollment process difficult for too many Americans.
Those problems, Campbell said, stemmed from issues with the front door to the marketplace, where people register and create personal accounts. That application, designed by Quality Software Services Inc., created a bottleneck preventing the vast majority of consumers from accessing the marketplace, she testified.
Andrew Slavitt, executive vice president of Optum, which owns Quality Software, explained the front door bottleneck to lawmakers: It appears that one of the reasons for the high concurrent volume at the registration system was a late decision requiring consumers to register for an account before they could browse for insurance products. This may have driven higher simultaneous usage of the registration system that wouldnt have otherwise occurred if consumers could window shop anonymously.
Campbell testified that she believed the window shopping feature was ordered to be disabled in August by Henry Chao, deputy director of the Office of Information Services in HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Julie Bataille, communications director at the center, known as CMS, called the move a business decision to make sure that users understood their eligibility for a tax credit before enrolling in a plan.
Slavitt said he raised concerns with CMS about the risks associated with the lack of system testing on several occasions during the site construction process. He said he was told they understood the concerns
But Bataille acknowledged the fully integrated system not just its individual parts wasnt tested properly. Due to a compressed time frame, the system just wasnt tested enough, she said in a telephone briefing Wednesday.
While testing of the fully integrated system didnt occur until two weeks before the Oct. 1 launch, both Campbell and Slavitt said that several months of testing would have been optimal for a project this complex.
Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., said he believes political appointees manipulated the system to hide (test) data they didnt want the public to know. And were going to find out who that is because thats the crux of this problem.
At the White House, Carney dismissed a question of whether the administration was so wedded to the Oct. 1 rollout that it didnt allow adequate testing. He called the question Monday morning quarterbacking.