Image: Obamacare Health Site's Biggest Problem: No One Was in Charge

Obamacare Health Site's Biggest Problem: No One Was in Charge

Monday, 28 Oct 2013 03:53 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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The Obamacare website launch disaster shouldn't have come as a surprise to the administration since no single official was apparently tasked with the chief responsibility for overseeing and coordinating the mammoth project, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

During the planning process, young policy wonks worked on the program from Bethesda, Md., while 40 miles away in Baltimore, computer experts with different bosses handled the site's hardware and software development.

Back in Washington, meanwhile, White House advisers dealt with the politics of the law, purposely delaying final decisions to avoid controversy during the 2012 presidential election, according to the Journal.

The end result of the scattershot planning process has resulted in minimal enrollment, especially among younger Americans, the key demographic to making the healthcare marketplace sustainable. The enrollment of younger, healthier people is designed to offset the costs for the elderly and infirm.

"This was the president's signature project and no one with the right technology experience was in charge," said Bob Kocher, a former White House aide who helped draft the law.

In March, Forbes.com ran a story about the lack of leadership for implementing the new law aimed at ensuring all Americans carry health insurance.

But even the warnings of politicians and pundits didn't spur the appointment of a project director. Since the HealthCare.gov enrollment site went live earlier this month, it has been plagued by crashes and bad data, and a variety of other technical design issues. It's been an embarrassment to the Obama administration and fodder for Republicans looking to defund the program or hoping that it will fail on its own.

Well known problem-solver Jeffrey Zients, a successful businessman and a former White House budget official and trusted adviser to President Barack Obama, has been charged with expediting repairs of all the software glitches on the website and overseeing Quality Software Services, which was recently named the project's general contractor.

Quality Software is one of 55 contractors that worked on the website. The company has said it will have the myriad of technical failures repaired and the site fully operable by the end of November.

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