HE DIDN'T KNOW: President was unaware of health care Web site's problems before launch
Web site crashed during test run; Sebelius maintains that Obama didn't know
United States Health Chief Kathleen Sebelius maintains that U.S. President Barack Obama was unaware about the problems with the Affordable Care Act's Web site until after the launch on October 1st. Insurance companies raised their concerns about the site, which crashed during a test run before the launch. According to Sebelius, Obama was apparently unaware of the technical problems.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, fearing they would otherwise be fired, programmers said they raised doubts among themselves whether the Web site could be ready in time.
The Web site has come under severe scrutiny since its launch. Programmers have said they expressed concerns beforehand but were ignored by their seniors. A review of technical specifications found an overly complex system put together by stressed programmers. The result was a final product that congressional investigators said was tested by the government and not private developers with more expertise.
A team of experts has now been drafted in from Silicon Valley to solve the issues with the site, Sebelius says. Led by Jeff Zients, who is a former CEO and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, the glitches should be repaired shortly.
Sebelius says the administration hoped that the HealthCare.gov Web site had the 'A-team' working on it from the start, when asked why the experts were not brought in before its launch.
"We want new eyes and ears. We want to make sure that we get all the questions on the table, that we get all the answers and accelerator the fix as quickly as possible," she said.
An "extremely high" volume of users contributed to the problem, Sebelius said, with close to 20 million people using the new Web site in the first three weeks. Sebelius said the president and his team were not satisfied with the workings of the Web site, which they planned to be easy to use allowing consumers to compare healthcare policy plans.
Half a million accounts had been created on the site - and yet not all of them have enrolled in healthcare plans.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, fearing they would otherwise be fired, programmers said they raised doubts among themselves whether the Web site could be ready in time. They were reportedly crammed into conference rooms with pizza for dinner, some programmers working past 10 p.m. with energy drinks in hand.
Others rewrote computer code over and over to meet what they considered last-minute requests for changes from the government or other contractors.
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