Private consulting firm warned of glitches before launch
November 19th, 2013
12:27 AM ET
7 years ago

Private consulting firm warned of glitches before 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 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. Name

    And those surprised by the Obama admin lack of understanding of business execution core fundamentals like internet exchanges please raise your hand. Buehler. Buehler.

    November 19, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  2. McBob79

    The web of lies from president Obama and his administration are so tangled they can't keep their story straight on anything. The scandals are on par with the Nixon administration.

    November 19, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  3. Joe

    Failure. Lies.

    November 19, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  4. Mike in SA

    What??? You mean Obama lied to us again when he said he didn't know? What???

    November 19, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  5. Bobbie

    Cigna sent me a letter yesterday tellimg me my rates would go up by 17.71% next year due to the ACA

    November 19, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  6. cleat

    Bushes fault...
    but it sure was "neat" voting for "hope"...

    November 19, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  7. Jd

    The President says he didn't know. Would any of you have something like this and not log on before the release? So, he never logged on? He never hit the UAT site?

    November 19, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  8. Truth

    "If you want your canceled plan, you can keep it... for a year. Period."
    -B. Hussein Obama

    November 19, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  9. sportsmedicine

    So Obama lied – AGAIN??

    So, boys and girls, thats what happens when you tell a lie. You have to tell more and more lies to cover up the original lie.

    Then, nobody believes anything you say anymore.

    And its not to say we, meaning Reoublicans and Conservatives, didnt warn you.

    November 19, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  10. El Hombre

    szinda – "I believe he is brilliant at coming up with policies ..."

    As the man once said, "Amateurs talk strategy; Professionals talk logistics" Anyone can white board a strategy or vision. However, success is defined by execution, not "the idea". is a perfect example of how much talent it takes to be a community organizer.

    November 19, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  11. Duh

    Hopey changey falling apart!! New scandal!! I love watching this!!!! Life is good!!!!!

    November 19, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  12. Name

    Carter > Obama

    November 19, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  13. Sam

    szinda – you vocalized everything I wanted to say and thank you!

    November 19, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  14. Doc

    SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE, CNN stuck their finger in Obama 's eye to share the truth! Welcome to the world of unbiased journalism. Glad to have you on board!!

    November 19, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  15. Denise

    Thank goodness the American electorate elected him twice despite the FAUX News, dittohead lala land

    November 19, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  16. cmml

    Has there ever been a president more disconnected with his administration? Either Obama is lying (again) or those in his administration should be fired for not communicating.

    November 19, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  17. Graeme from Ottawa

    Its not like he invaded a country on faulty intelligence. Did anyone ever investigate when Bush might have been told that the Iraq WMD intelligence was erroneous? The website will be working in a few weeks and all this will be for not.

    November 19, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  18. deee510

    We get it the website is not running smoothly. How many times will this story be recycled? the only stories that gets a lot of hits are Obama bashing stories because Obama has a lot of losers that hate him.

    November 19, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  19. steve

    Wow, another lie? Another problem? And the shutdown was caused by who? Love watching the wheels coming off the big liberal bus. Obama and the dems are done!

    November 19, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  20. Lars

    Acosta, Davidsen, and Walsh clearly believe in "beating the dead horse to death".

    Get over it already, the system didn't operate properly, and is now in the process of being fixed.

    BTW, the grandfather clause, as was originally written into the ACA law, clearly permitted those who had purchased sub-standard health insurance policies BEFORE the ACA law went into effect to keep those policies without penalty.

    The recent fix to the grandfather clause will now allow those who bought sub-standard health insurance policies AFTER the law went into effect to will now be able to keep those policies for one (1) year without penalty.

    November 19, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  21. Jeff

    Right now the dems are sitting around wondering how they are going to blame this on Bush.

    Obama has been the worst prez, ever. That's saying something.

    November 19, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  22. I AM

    You win some and you loose some. Can't blame a guy for trying.

    November 19, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |

    Forget the ACA. It will always be Obamacare to me. He wanted that to be his shining mantle. Now it is what it is, an albatross around his neck.

    November 19, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    They KNEW they had major problems.......they simply don't CARE!!

    November 19, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  25. jw

    It only took 5 years to win WW2 And they cannot get a website up and running in 3 y???

    November 19, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
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