Sebelius calls for investigation into healthcare.gov development

Dec. 11, 2013 at 9:37 AM   |   0 comments

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she has asked the department's inspector general to look into the development of healthcare.gov.

"I am asking ... Inspector General Dan Levinson to review the acquisition process, overall program management, and contractor performance and payment issues related to the development and management of the healthcare.gov website," Sebelius wrote in a blog posted Wednesday on the department's website.

"The launch of healthcare.gov was flawed and simply unacceptable," Sebelius said.

She said she asked Levinson to review the acquisition process and overall program management, as well as contractor performance and payment issues related to development and management of the website.

"I believe strongly in the need for accountability, and in the importance of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars," Sebelius posted in her blog.

Sebelius said she has asked Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to create a chief risk officer position for the CMS tasked to mitigate risk in CMS programs.

"The chief risk officer's first assignment will be to review risk management practices when it comes to IT acquisition and contracting, starting with identifying the risk factors that impeded the successful launch of the healthcare.gov website," Sebelius said.

Sebelius said the individual would report to her in 60 days "with recommendations for strategies to mitigate risks in future large-scale, CMS contracting and IT acquisition projects."

Finally, the department will update and expand CMS employee training on best practices for contractor and procurement management, rules and procedures, the secretary said.

"We will expand the scope and content of employee training to ensure that all CMS employees are getting the most extensive and up to date guidance -- on a regular basis -- for managing projects undertaken through contractors, including best practices for internal communications and processes," she said.

The steps announced Wednesday "build on reforms we have already made that have led to significant improvements to the website," Sebelius said.

"While there is still more work to do, healthcare.gov is working faster," she said. "[It's] responding quicker, and we are able to handle larger volumes of concurrent users."

As the department works to ensure problems that plagued the website when it was launched don't happen again, "our top priority will remain the same: making sure that every eligible American who wants to obtain the security of affordable health coverage will have the opportunity to do so," Sebelius said.

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