WH: Chief technology officer too busy for congressional testimony
November 7th, 2013
05:51 PM ET
12 months ago

WH: Chief technology officer too busy for congressional testimony

Updated 7:30 p.m. ET, 11/7/2013

Washington (CNN) – The top technology expert working to repair the bug-laden federal health care website is too busy to testify next week in front of a Republican-chaired House committee, the White House wrote in a letter to the committee Thursday.

Todd Park, the U.S. chief technology officer and an assistant to the president, is "currently occupied full time on the critically important work of improving the website for the millions of Americans seeking affordable health insurance options," the White House wrote in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa dated November 6, suggesting instead a date next month.

Issa’s panel, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was set to hear from Park next Wednesday, along with other technology experts from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Office of Management and Budget, who are working to repair HealthCare.gov.

“His testimony needs to be scheduled at a time that is less disruptive to that work,” wrote Donna Pignatelli, the White House’s assistant director for legislative affairs, who added later that “pulling him away…even for a short time at this stage would be highly disruptive and would risk slowing the progress that has been made thus far to fix identified issues with the website.”

The letter goes on to cite Issa’s statement, made during an October appearance on CBS, that he hopes the website is fixed “quickly.”

Pignatelli recommended instead an appearance during the first two weeks of December–after the administration-set deadline of November 30 to have the health website up and running.

But Issa responded with a letter urging Park to reconsider his decision, saying the committee may use its power to compel him testify he refuses to attend.

"Your role in the development and rollout of HealthCare.gov...uniquely positions you to provide testimony that will be valuable for both Congress and the public," Issa said in the letter. "Thus, your participation at the hearing is imperative."

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and ranking member of the committee, said in a statement that Park offered to testify in early December and provide a briefing.

"But Chairman Issa’s letter completely ignores these offers and instead threatens a subpoena that would pull Mr. Park away from his critical role in improving the website," Cummings continued in the statement. "I am personally very concerned that the Chairman’s actions may have a direct and negative impact on efforts to fix healthcare.gov, which would aggravate the problem rather than help solve it.”


Filed under: Health care • White House
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Darrell Issa can give the guy a postponement or a continuance , Issa had a few of those during his own past legal problems.

    What about the IRS fiasco , Darrell was going to get back to us with indictments .

    November 7, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  2. unc dig

    sure he is

    November 7, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. GOP = Greed Over People

    The GOP, always putting their grand standing photo ops before the American people.

    Typical, more interested in optics over substance!

    November 7, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. GOP = Greed Over People

    The House GOP would do well to follow the example of The Pope, when it comes to those less fortunate than themselves.

    But, I forget, to them "empathy" is an expletive!

    November 7, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. the hippies were right

    Issa won't accept this. He doesn't want the problems fixed.

    November 7, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. Park

    We have a single, head programmer who is disgruntled.

    November 7, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  7. don in albuquerque

    I would find a reason not to talk to these idiots too. They have not seen fit to do their jobs in years (unless it was about creating a scandal), why should they expect anyone else to do their job.

    November 7, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. Pax

    As a former CEO of a Silicon Valley company, I can tell you that my head programmer always greeted me with his middle – if he bothered to come to work. There was absolutely nothing I could do without harming the company's income.

    November 7, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  9. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    In other words, he told Issa to pound salt!

    November 7, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  10. norma jean

    There goes Issa... throwing his weight around again.....I think the Democrats should reply "NO "....just what they have gotten from the Repubs since day one!!!!.....

    November 7, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  11. Evergreen

    This person is under a lot pressure to get the website working. A 2-3 week delay is reasonable. He will be better able to answer the guestion, "what when wrong", when finds and fixes the problem. But, like previous Issa hearings, Issa already knows what answers he wants.

    November 7, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  12. Grumpy2012

    You have got to be kidding me. Too busy to testify?

    I guess this guy doesn't think he works for the American people either.

    November 7, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. stars

    Thir guy Issa sound likd the devil. Hey Issa stfu.

    November 7, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  14. Name Uche Agonsi

    How does this Congressional investigation really help in fixing the website problems under what everybody sees as a tasked assignment to get them fixed within a time frame. Nothing could have been as disruptive as removing a key drama personae in such a critical situation and Congressman Issa should realise it. Infact, a deep study of the healthcare.gov problems, without gainsaying it depicts sabotage. Everyone shrills at any development impatiently at a such beneficial program to the people. The GOPers dont want it to work, still they their investigations sound like they want it rather than disruptive. The Corporations(Insurance Coys) are deliberately creating their own problems at the wrong time, and the website technicians now navigate from one problem to another with a seemingly endless encounters. These Congressmen/women should at least allow the key people battling to fix these problems time to do it if the Congress really desires the problems sort out in time. Otherwise, they are actually messing the works.

    November 7, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  15. Francisco joel villa

    well good days are getting better have faith the process is a shock.

    November 7, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  16. maggie

    congress needs to be non-partisan investigating the oversight of all contractors...it's a problem in every sector but particularly to services for consumers who are denied services to skim profits for contractors. There is a better way. listen to the consumers.

    November 7, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  17. Are you kidding me?

    This is a dog and pony show. This happens in the IT world very often so let's stop kidding ourselves. Where is the congressional hearing lead by the people to hold congress accountable for the shutdown or the mass amount or obstruction?

    November 7, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  18. Michael Benjamin

    Fine, let him testify and blame Issa for critical deliverables not met.

    November 8, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  19. Roice

    Wasting government surveillance resources since 1984............ha ha.......and what have you got? Nothing.

    November 8, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  20. orrball

    like he can't take time away from his coffee to talk? If this guy got sick and mist a day of work would the hole world come to an end ! How stupid do they think we are ?

    November 8, 2013 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  21. JC

    Seriously?! Going to the capital building for a few hours, even a full day , will derail the process if fixing the site? Is he the only professional working on it? This is another White House move to delay testimony of someone with direct knowledge. Why wouldn't they want him to testify and get it over with instead of prolonging it for weeks? Anytime the house calls on an administration official to testify there is some reason why they can't. Hillary all of a sudden became dizzy and too unstable to testify in the Benghazi hearings, even though she was still traveling around holding meetings and giving speeches.

    November 8, 2013 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  22. Tommy Gun

    I'll bet he is really working night and day...

    November 8, 2013 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  23. Humbrrto

    Didn't this lame Congress specify how the website was to be setup and funded ? Oh that's right, they don't have any money

    November 8, 2013 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  24. Humbrrto

    Any media person that suggested or out right lied about faulting Obama because he said if you want to keep you existing plan you can and called him a liar should be fined by the FCC for mis information to.deceive the public concerning where the fault lies. The President has no control how a private company does business in a community as long as their within the laws set forth by Congress.
    The half ass experts attempt to act ignorant about the hostile atmosphere to deceive they create.
    But of course the FCC won't do that,

    November 8, 2013 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  25. smdahl

    Let his boss testify for him, if he's not too busy on the golf course.

    November 8, 2013 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
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