Obamacare Website Manager in Dark About Security Flaws

Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 02:31 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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The chief project manager for Obamacare website HealthCare.gov is scheduled to testify before legislators that he knew nothing about potential security risks to Obamacare consumers when he recommended the site go live.

Henry Chao says he did not see a memo written in early September warning of possible security issues, including two characterized as “high risks,” he told investigators with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in an interview before his testimony, according to The New York Times.

“What I recall is what the team told me, that there were no high findings,” Chao told the committee, confirming that gaps in security could lead to cyberattacks – such as identity theft — on consumers, CBS News reports.

Mitre Corporation, responsible for evaluating the website’s security controls, conducted the tests which showed “limitless” security problems.

Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, made Chao’s statements to investigators on the committee public just as Chao and other administration officials are set to testify before the full committee about the site’s technical problems.

A month before the site went live, Tony Trenkle, chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, wrote the memo warning of security problems with the HealthCare.gov website.

Chao says he never saw it, something he told investigators he found “disturbing.”
Saying it was safe to launch despite incomplete security testing, Chao recommended going live with the site as planned on Oct. 1. He told investigators that he was unaware of the potential security risks when he made the recommendation.

Since the website debacle, it has been announced that Trenkle is leaving his government position.

The Chao controversy is the latest evidence that the Obama administration had plenty of harbingers indicating major flaws with the plan to implement the president’s signature piece of domestic policy.

It also underscores the dearth of communication and coordination between policy makers and the technology arm of the project.

Since its debut, the administration has been working around the clock to try to mitigate the public relations disaster and get the healthcare.gov site operational by Nov. 30.

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