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

    "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"

    Limited resources? Seriously? On a website project that charged over ten times more than any similar site has ever cost, there were limited resources?

    I'd certainly like to hear more about that.

    November 19, 2013 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  2. Nick

    He's certainly competent at being a liar and claiming he was blindsided by everything. Obama is obviously not up for the task of being president; ObamaCare the massive welfare program resulting from his incompetence should be promptly scrapped but it's doubtful he has the honor or integrity to do so.

    November 19, 2013 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  3. elitephpcoder

    So the government lies.. is anyone here completely shocked?

    It is such a normal occurrence, no one is even outraged anymore when the truth comes out.

    November 19, 2013 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  4. elitephpcoder

    so the government lies, is anyone here completely shocked?

    November 19, 2013 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  5. Kenweil

    Let me guess Obama still knew nothing.

    November 19, 2013 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  6. LostInSpace

    And the hits just keep a comin' !

    November 19, 2013 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  7. Barrack "it's not my fault" Obama

    When will it finally dawn on people that Obama's form of Liberalism simply does not work? Everything this man puts his incompetent hands on turns to garbage. Stay out of our lives Barack, we don't need you. And he's a bald-faced liar to boot. It all started with Chris Matthew's leg tingle. Obama was supposed to be "the one". Finally, a young, bright, liberal minority to right all the wrongs of society. To breathe new life into the system, He was going to be the "hope and change" all the Liberals had been dreaming of all their lives. At long last he's finally here. LOL.

    November 19, 2013 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  8. Retired USAF

    What a surprise !

    November 19, 2013 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  9. Jeff

    American was warned several times with tons of information that this guy shouldn't be President and he was elected twice.

    November 19, 2013 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  10. Paul

    What a suprise

    November 19, 2013 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  11. Hazardous

    So the Obama administration hired a private firm to find problems with the website, the firm finds and reports problems, the administration ignores the problems, then they claim ignorance when the problems happen... Am I missing something here or is this administration completely incompetent?

    November 19, 2013 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  12. Bhandover

    So, we are faced with the choice of either an incredible incompetent Whit house or a President who has lied continuously to the American :People. I believe in health care for everyone. I believe this is a human right but this administration makes the last one seem like angels and the last one wallowed in the mud of lies and deceit. Those who take one side or another are petty hypocritical partisan lapdogs.
    We now have had over 12 years of Presidential lies and deceit. From Iraq to Drones. From "No Child Left Behind" to The Affordable Health Care act.
    Both Bush Jr. and Obama are guilty of war crimes and profound lying to the American People. Bot parties are incapable of telling the truth. Conclusion?- Revolution that shakes the very foundation of D.C. politics.

    November 19, 2013 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  13. Chris

    Is any of this surprising anymore? Politicians lie. Constantly. And nothing is done about it.

    November 19, 2013 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  14. Scott

    Obama was too worried about weather or not he should use the 4 or 5 Iron when this report was being gone over for the largest most American life altering piece of legislation was being reported on. And you Libs still want to defend him?

    November 19, 2013 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  15. ME

    If I were going to create a website..I would have hired the people who created the Amazon...the LLBean...the Macys...the ebay...the Starbucks...the websites that have been selling to millions of people on Black Friday without even so much as one glitch...
    I would have gone straight to Cisco...Silicone Valley..or whomever is the best at building these sites..
    I have found many government sites to be too complicated....ambiguous...and difficult to surf.
    I have found my State Government websites to be Friendly and awesome..
    I hope a lesson has been learned ....in this day and age....we have the talent...Hire the Best and Get the Best Results!!

    November 19, 2013 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
  16. Name

    Thats because the government never takes the time. The time needed to ensure that theres ample time to conduct the testing and fix the problems . This is to ensure that the system works properly. Thats from experience with military equipment.

    November 19, 2013 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  17. straighttalk

    Where is Sibelius? She was in charge and now kick her butt out the door and fast.

    November 19, 2013 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  18. Kimo

    What an inept administration; I know nothing, I hear nothing, I see nothing. Does the Commander in Chief know how to fire anybody??

    November 19, 2013 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  19. Generalista

    Sound like a normal QA process, to be.

    The problem is not finding issues in advance – the problem is not addressing them, properly.

    From what I am reading, this is a typical case of the Government using the lowest bidder (or one with the strongest lobby/ best connection), rather than finding balance between quality and cost. This is not an overly complicated site to build, properly – even in the relatively short time allotted.

    November 19, 2013 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  20. oldsarg

    Does it matter anymore? It has been nothing but lies since this started. Obama and those of the progressive movement has been actively working to undermine life as we know it in the United States since their rise to power. Obama and his ilk may very well be born here but they do not share the same culture of values as Americans.

    November 19, 2013 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  21. Free Press

    The most dishonest Adminstration ever assembled.

    November 19, 2013 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  22. ken

    Mr. President, you are incompetent.

    November 19, 2013 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  23. Sundara0000

    Everyone except for the die hard fans knew he was lying. He hasn't done anything but deny every problem that has been exposed.

    November 19, 2013 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  24. larry

    LIAR also knew we were all going to lose our health insurance plans that he said we could keep. He knows exactly whats going on and he planned it.

    November 19, 2013 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  25. What in the world

    Funny I listed that on CNN when this thing first went live......

    November 19, 2013 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22