Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch
November 19th, 2013
12:27 AM ET
10 months ago

Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch

(CNN) - A newly disclosed report indicates that officials in the Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services received warnings from a private consultant group that the federal online healthcare enrollment site could potentially fail to function properly for the October 1 launch date.

The analysis by McKinsey & Company was requested by the White House. It identified various problems with the exchange, including limited testing time and resources before the launch, and found that call-in centers wouldn't function properly if the website malfunctioned.

The Obama administration has come under fire for the botched October 1 launch of healthcare.gov. The site has been plagued with technical issues barring many enrollees from signing up for the federal exchange though the site. This report suggests problems were brought to the attention of key officials as early as March.

The administration has said the President didn't know of problems with the Affordable Care Act's website until after its fumbled rollout - even though insurance companies had been complaining and the site crashed during a pre-launch test run.

CNN received the report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The committee said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius received a briefing at the HHS headquarters with these concerns on April 4, along with acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Marilyn Tavenner and White House chief technology officer Todd Park. Park was also present at a briefing on March 28 at the CMS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Despite assurances from Secretary Sebelius, Marilyn Tavenner, and Gary Cohen that ‘all was well’ and ‘on track’ with the launch of the Affordable Care Act, we now have documents dating back to April that call into question what they told us,” said Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania).

On Tuesday, a House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee holds a hearing on the security of the federal healthcare website.

McKinsey's report says the group reviewed 200 documents and sources, interviewed about 40 people across a variety of federal agencies and participated in some meetings and work sessions. But the analysis did not include outside interviews with insurers or access computer code or programs.

The report also points to potential areas of risk that never became a significant issue - like the data hubs used by the state sites and the federal site, to verify applicants' income, citizenship and eligibility. Or prolonged call times, which have been brought down in the weeks following the launch.

The story was first reported by the Washington Post.

CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


Filed under: Healthcare • HHS • Kathleen Sebelius • Obama administration
soundoff (539 Responses)
  1. Chuck

    I cant help but keep thinking about all of those Speaches Obama gave about Bushes FAILED POLICIES
    well Barack, all of your policiees are not only failed, but designed to Fail

    November 19, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. Malory Archer

    Chuck

    I cant help but keep thinking about all of those Speaches Obama gave about Bushes FAILED POLICIES
    well Barack, all of your policiees are not only failed, but designed to Fail

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    One website doesn't equate to bankrupting the country and starting two useless wars, but thanks for playing. Please stop by the concierge desk on your way out to claim your consulation prizes.

    November 19, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  3. notfooledagain

    Will be known as:
    Obama the Unknowing
    or
    Obama the Liar
    or
    Obama the Unknowing Liar

    November 19, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  4. jinx9to88

    Here we go the conspiracy experts are in full force. LMAO!!

    November 19, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. rick

    If we as an employee made a mistake that cost one tenth of what they spent on ACA, we would have been fired instantly, without question. What makes these politicians immune to the American public?

    November 19, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. Rachel

    He took Billions out of Medicare Advantage plans that provide care to the elderly to finance Obama's "signature Obama Care.. What Democrat allowed this to happen??

    November 19, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  7. jinx9to88

    Obama is taking the blame for this!! Why are people on this blog saying he is blaming other people? Can people read?

    November 19, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  8. Dave Hawkins

    Another day another lie revealed. This is starting to like like an administrative habit at the White House. I think we now have more lies than it took to sink Nixon.

    November 19, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. sofork

    One thing the Obama administration is good at–lying and deceiving the American public.

    November 19, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. jinx9to88

    Dang you Obama I just found out my insurance went up $1.32 next year!!! Thats way more than the $75,000 I lost when the housing market crashed. Not really but you get my sarcasm. People get real, if the worst thing is glitches to a website is all you have to worry about I think you have it pretty easy.

    November 19, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  11. Michele, Info Security Analyst

    The glitches in this project were most likely covered up by all the middle management that didn't want to "look bad" in their boss' eyes. I have seen this for years working in IT and in Security. I cannot count how many times me and my team have brought serious issues \ concerns \ problems to management's attention only to be told, "make it work". Sometimes, you CANNOT make it work with the available TIME and TECHNOLOGY. Yet, management doesn't want to hear it and will actually blackball someone who continues to push back.

    I'm all for being positive and concentrating on what CAN be done, and not harping on what CANNOT be done. But at some point, the business is asking for something that can't be accomplished in their narrow time frame. I am quite certain that is what has occurred here.... and as far as Pres Obama is concerned, I cannot speak upon what he may or may not have said if he knew the truth... but I doubt the "truth" was ever properly conveyed.

    November 19, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  12. TONE

    The media our media has joined the racist right wingers in condemning this president, just because he tried to get people health insurance, who otherwise would be bankupt to get well in this country. Things did not start off well but are we going to come together and see this through, or just sit on the sidelines and laugh because you think it's going to fail, i wonder who some of you will blame when it start to work properly the media who mislead you because they themselves do not have a clue CBS anyone. After they racked up millions in commercials they came out and apologised for their lies about bengazhi.

    November 19, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  13. ru serious

    So, it's either a White House that is deceptive and/or incompetent. While you would think the voting public might learn a lesson from this, but the more likely scenario is they will vote for the next celebrity endorsed smooth talker that comes down the pike.

    November 19, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. george t hibs

    The Obama legacy is shaping up as the worst president of all times. He has already surpassed Jimmy Carter. He lacks the most basic of leadership skills and is the single most divisive president ever.

    November 19, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  15. blakenaustin

    Another lie from the compulsive liar. Of course Obama knew. The man has zero credibility. You cannot believe a single word that comes out of his mouth. For the good of the nation he needs to be removed as president.

    November 19, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  16. itwasntme904

    Only an idiot would believe Obama did not know! Of course he did, but he will deny it to the end. And the m0r0ns that follow him along with Clinton ( I could not tell the truth if I had too ) will continue to believe that it was Bushs fault or the tea party or some other ludicrous bs.

    November 19, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  17. steve

    All we can say is "WE TOLD YOU SO". Anybody still defending Obama and his administration is a fool.

    November 19, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. Chi(Easternsailor) Tran

    Saint Paul said, When it is The End of Time and the Knowledge and the Source of Nature have No More! And that's why Obama is sittin' on the Hot Seats!

    November 19, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. The Brutal Truth

    If elections were held today, Romney would win.

    No wonder Obama lied!!!!!!

    "PRESIDENT ROMNEY – How significant was President Obama’s “if you like it” bait and switch? The latest WaPo/ABC News poll says that if the election were held today, Mitt Romney would beat Obama 49 percent to 45 percent. That’s an 8-point swing from the results of last year’s election.

    And that’s among registered voters, saying nothing of what voter intensity would do to those numbers given the growing opposition to the health law and the president’s management.

    The survey shows public opposition to ObamaCare at 57 percent, in the latest WaPo/ABC news poll.President Obama’s approval is also suffering with 44 percent of adults now saying they “strongly disapprove” of the job he is doing."

    November 19, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  20. TONE

    I will vote for Obama over any of the nutjobs fielded by the GOTP.

    November 19, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. Malory Archer

    Chi(Easternsailor) Tran

    Saint Paul said, When it is The End of Time and the Knowledge and the Source of Nature have No More! And that's why Obama is sittin' on the Hot Seats!

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    What?

    November 19, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. Hogarth

    Why do you need the federal website anyway? Can't you just go to the website of your insurance company and purchase coverage there?

    November 19, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  23. Malory Archer

    guest2

    It must be embarrassing to be a liberal today or to have voted for Obama today.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Nope, not at all. While your ilk gets all up in a froth over a faulty website, those of us with more than two active brain cells to rub together understand that faulty websites happen all the time. At least President Obama is trying to do something positive for Americans whereas the rethugs, acting on orders from their deep pocketed owners just want to continue the destruction of the middle class that's been taking place for the last 32 years.

    November 19, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  24. $$$$

    @TONE
    "The media our media has joined the racist right wingers in condemning this president, just because he tried to get people health insurance, who otherwise would be bankupt to get well in this country"
    ------
    Right on schedule. Whenever someone dares to criticize Obama the liberals always throw the race card.
    We are criticizing the President because of his poor performance. If you want to tie that to racism, then I think have much deeper personal problems to deal with.

    November 19, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. HEYDUDE

    Point is the lies...not the www site.

    November 19, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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