GAO: Only 65% of would be ready by October 1

August 1st, 2014

From GAO testimony before the House, we learned that as early as the spring of 2013, HHS knew that only 65% of the site would be ready by launch date.

Mr. Woods said evidence in the files of the Department of Health and Human Services, from the spring of 2013, indicated that the federal exchange would be “only 65 percent complete” on Oct. 1, when it opened to the public.

In an effort to meet the October deadline, he said, “changes were being made in contract requirements at the direction of people who did not have the authority to do that.”

Moreover, he said, federal health officials ordered contractors to perform additional work, at additional cost to the government, without the knowledge of the contracting officer, the only person who was authorized to change the terms of contracts for the federal exchange.

Yet, they proceeded to launch an unfinished product. It seems that no one in leadership knew:

MELISSA ATTIAS:  The top Democrat on the subcommittee, who is Diana DeGette of Colorado, really took pains to make sure this was clarified. The GAO witness said that files his agency reviewed suggest that people within CMS knew that the website would not work on Oct. 1. He said GAO found some indication that there were estimates in the spring of 2013 that the federal exchange would only be 65 percent complete by the deadline.

But he said he had no evidence that CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner or a former CMS official, Gary Cohen, knew that the site would not be ready – or live in other words – when they testified before the committee.