Washington (CNN) – Officials overseeing the Obamacare website said it is still prone to errors and slow response times, but it has improved since its disastrous October 1 launch.
A key part of the site will be down over the Veterans Day weekend, including Monday, CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille told reporters on a conference call Friday.
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The site “remains a long way from where it needs to be,” according to Jeffrey Zients, the management consultant and once and future White House staffer brought in to oversee fixes.
But he argued they are making it better in each of the five weeks it has been operational. He still hopes it will be operating smoothly by the end of November.
It is by no means perfect yet, however, and that was clear again this week, Zients said.
“The system was very slow and sporadic for many users for significant periods of time during the week. As we put new fixes in, volume is increasing, exposing new storage, capacity and software issues.”
“On both of our key metrics – response times and error rates – were headed in the right direction, but we have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said.
In the first few weeks of operation, he said, users were waiting an average of eight seconds to access each page. That time has been cut to an average of “well below 1 second,” he said.
On the other important metric, Zients said there is now a 2 percent per-page error rate, which he argued is an improvement from the more than 6 percent page error rate users were encountering when the site launched.
The site will be down over the coming holiday weekend, according to the CMS spokeswoman. She said in particular administrators would be tweaking the portion of the hub tied to the IRS that verifies a user’s income.
That means Americans who visit the site will be able to set up an account, log on and shop for insurance. But they’ll have to wait until after the weekend to complete a purchase.
But the outage, according to Zients, will allow administrators to work through a dozen or more of the issues on their punch list.
That punch list – which Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said this week is hundreds of items long – is an evolving thing, according to Zients.
Administrators solve some issues and identify others, he said. He wouldn’t disclose the length of the punch list now.
Zients also revealed more about his role.
He is soon to take a job at the White House as a top economic adviser, but he told reporters that right now he is working as a trustee and without pay. He is spending time both with contractors in the field and at CMS headquarters.
Briefers would not address a report from two Republican Senators that the exchange for the District of Columbia–one of 14 not run by the federal government–has enrolled only five people.
CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille said the agency is focused on giving accurate data, which she said they can’t offer until next week.
She also argued the administration refrain that “there will be a low number of enrollments this first month and that it will ramp up over the course of the enrollment period.”