House Dem accuses Issa of selectively leaking Obamacare documents
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, says Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, "misunderstood or mischaracterized" information he released about HealthCare.gov.
November 8th, 2013
12:45 PM ET
1 year ago

House Dem accuses Issa of selectively leaking Obamacare documents

Updated 4:01 p.m. ET, 11/8/2013

Washington (CNN) – The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee accused the panel's chairman, Representative Darrell Issas R-California, of selectively leaking documents related to testing done on HealthCare.gov, the troubled Obamacare website.

Rep. Elijah Cummings D-Maryland, made the allegation Friday amid a battle over Issa's request for testimony from the Obama administration's top technology officer, Todd Park, at a hearing scheduled for next week. Issa has hinted he may subpoena Park to compel his testimony.

Earlier this week, Issa released a statement saying stress tests conducted on HealthCare.gov one day before its launch concluded the site was only "able to reach 1100 users before response time gets too high."

Issa said that performance stands in contrast with previous statements made to the committee by Park who insisted the site could handle a much larger workload, close to 60,000.

But Cummings said Issa failed to disclose that another top administration technology official, Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, backed up Park's testimony in a briefing with the committee's staff on November 1.

"You appear to be conflating the results of a much smaller testing environment with final production testing of the system at full capacity," Cummings said in a letter to Issa.

"Based on information obtained by the Committee, it appears that you fundamentally misunderstood or mischaracterized the document you released to the press," Cummings also wrote. "It is unclear why you did not disclose the information Mr. Chao provided."

According to portions of a transcript with Chao that Cummings' office released, the 1,100 projection was only a sample size, not the projection for the full production environment.

Chao further explained the process in the transcript, saying in "performance testing, you introduce (a) number of virtual users."

"Two hundred, 500, 1,000. You know, you're trying to introduce as many as you can handle in the performance testing environment to see where the breakpoint is," he continued. "And then, once you achieve that breakpoint, then you extrapolate, you know, from that how many concurrent users, how many concurrent sessions. Because you don't have a performance testing environment that equals 100 percent the production environment."

Hitting back, Issa's committee said Cummings, himself, left out a key portion of the testimony: Chao's response when he was asked “How many [registrations per hour] could it handle on October 1st?”.

"Maybe 8,000? Somewhere under 10,000," he said, according to Issa's office. "I don't have the exact metrics, but I know that it wasn't 30,000 registrations per hour."

A spokesperson for the committee, Caitlin Carroll, said in a statement that "if Ranking Member Cummings genuinely wants to be seen as a partner in oversight, he should start acting like it instead of using his position to twist facts and create false distractions on behalf of the Administration."

In a letter to Issa on Wednesday, White House officials said Park was too busy to testify at next week's hearing.

Park 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 Issa dated November 6, suggesting instead a date next month.

Issa's panel 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."

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."

– CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Darrell Issa • Elijah Cummings • Health care • Obamacare
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. bassman

    Kind of like what the White House does

    November 8, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    ....stress tests conducted on HealthCare.gov one day before its launch concluded the site was only "able to reach 1100 users before response time gets too high."

    Issa said that performance stands in contrast with previous statements made to the committee by Park who insisted the site could handle a much larger workload.
    -----------------------–
    Mr. Issa is conflatilng the significant difference between poor performance [slow response times] and a system failure due to too large of a workload. Those are two entirely different performance specifications. Response time. Maximum users.

    November 8, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Donna

    Well why doesn't this corrupt Obama administration simply disclose the information themselves? This has nothing to do with national security. Why all the secrecy? Becuase it is damaging to them, that is why, so they try to delay and stall.

    Does anybody believe that if the numbers were great for them that they wouldn't already have been leaked by the Obama administration? They have done that so many times in the past it is ridiculous.

    November 8, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. A True Conservative

    Yea, kind of bassman....except when the left does it....it's OK.....when anyone else does it.....well.......

    November 8, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    Nothing wrong with ACA, it is now a Law.

    November 8, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. TONE

    All of a sudden a car thief is someone who has credibility

    November 8, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  7. TONE

    Is this guy working for the American people or the koch brothers shouldn't this guy be investigated.

    November 8, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "You appear to be conflating "

    Haha...conflating...nothing the GOP/Teatrolls love more. All that "conflating" is keeping the hand cream industry in business though, so I suppose we should thank them for their contribution to the economy.

    November 8, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. California

    Like the White House doesn't do this all the time.

    Move along people.

    November 8, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    And yes, in other words, Issa was exploiting the fact that the MSM (a) will jump all over even the most rancid, maggot covered red meat the GOP/Teatrolls provides and (b) doesn't have the faintest clue about any of the technology or development processes, terminology or professional standards at play with respect to the website issue. He duped the MSM in order to dupe the American public. Why? Because retractions and corrections after the fact don't fix the misinformation persisting in the minds of those who heard what they wanted to hear.

    November 8, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  11. Hector Slagg

    Aw,
    Don't believe it is any big secret what's happening to Obama Care. It's all over the News.

    November 8, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    ""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." "

    So schedule it after hours or on the weekend, dimwit.

    November 8, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Doyle Wiley, MI

    How did we elect so many children?

    November 8, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Richard in Houston

    I always thought you took care of the customer (that would be the citizens of the U.S.) First and then find out what happened. The republicans running aound like they are so concerned for the ACA is a joke. They wanted to kill it and hav e been doing everything they can toi achieve that goal. The department runnung the ACA wanted funding to get the word out about the ACA but were repeatedly denied by the republican house. Now the republicans say a poor job was done get the word out about the ACA. What joke. If they were so concerned why not help and stop all of this political posturing. I swear. The republicans are not politicians any more. They are actor and running the government is there stage. It government sdtupid not theater!

    November 8, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    You mean just how he selectively chose to leave out the FACTS of the previous IRS, Fast & Furious and Benghazi hearings. Issa's committee has become nothing but a witch hunt committee.

    November 8, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Richard in Houston

    Sorry for all of the typos before. One more thing. Don't get fooled into believing the tag bag people (Cruz and Co.) shut down the gov't. It was the republican party. Cruz and Co. Got played and big. Republican party let then rant take the blame and now the party seem like the level headed part. But still they will get credit with the Tea people. We as a people have short memories and by 2014 the shut down will be forgotten. If I was a bagger I would bolt the republicans and vote libertarian or form your own party.

    November 8, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Richard in Houston

    Sorry for all of the typos before. One more thing. Don't get fooled into believing the tea bag people (Cruz and Co.) shut down the gov't. It was the republican party. Cruz and Co. Got played and big. Republican party let then rant take the blame and now the party seem like the level headed part. But still they will get credit with the Tea people. We as a people have short memories and by 2014 the shut down will be forgotten. If I was a bagger I would bolt the republicans and vote libertarian or form your own party.

    November 8, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Donna

    Well why doesn't this corrupt Obama administration simply disclose the information themselves? This has nothing to do with national security. Why all the secrecy? Becuase it is damaging to them, that is why, so they try to delay and stall.
    --------------------–
    Don't act so ignorant and obtuse. Give them a chance to find out the problems and fix them, so that they can have something of substance to report. Only someone with a hidden agenda would start demanding an investigation into an event before the event has finished occurring.

    What Issa is doing is politically motivated, and ignorantly short-sighted. Should they fail to meet their self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline, they will have Mr. Issa to blame for interfering and pulling them away from their grindstones.

    November 8, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Tampa Tim

    After all the damage the Republican Party has done to our country for the last 15 years, they should have to wear warning labels.

    November 8, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Issa makes All Capone look like a boy scout !

    November 8, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    Well, since the GOP House does not understand the concept of work, its hardly suprising they are yet again resorting to this tactic so they can get some wonderful soundbites ( after skillful editing and splicing). This will go the way of all of Issa's fishing expeditions: oblivion.

    November 8, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Jules

    Issa is an evil man and a big bully. He is always selective when it comes to the hearings he conducts. They are never anything than a witch hunt and the overwhelming majority of the information he puts out is later proven that it was taken out of context or he was just plain lying.

    November 8, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. smokeee

    Republicans will do anything to make Obamacare look bad to get rid of it. Its their #1 agenda due to their big money base supporters being fanatical about abolishing it. Republicans are going to go to new nay saying depths to fear monger the end of all things if we don't get rid of Obamacare. Its really how the right wing operates and have been operating based on exaggerated doom and gloom for a long time now.

    November 8, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Tampa Tim

    Rove refused to testify during the outing of Plaime, maybe Darrell should check that out. Issa releasing edited testimony is like the Hannity show, make it look bad when you got nothing.

    November 8, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. Ron -IN

    First of all both sides do this and it is ALWAYS a waste of time and counterproductive to any situation. The bottom line is this, there was NO WAY the Obama Adminstration was not going to launch this site on the 1st of October. Anyone who thinks differently is just fooling themselves. You need to look at it like launching any other large scale project. You expect problems to develop and you debug it as you go along. The fact that most American won't make up their minds until the deadline is closer makes it easier to launch and debug now instead of delay and still have to debug. Don't misinterpret this as an excuse for the poor launching of the website. If I were the President and Sec. Sebelius worked for me, I would have asked her for her resignation. This law/project was much too important to be handled so poorly.

    November 8, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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