Saturday, March 8, 2014
Three War Rooms for Health.gov
CMS opened three “War Rooms” during the start of the Health.gov website. It was a high priority for the White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough who commuted almost daily between CMS headquarters in Bethesda, MD (home of CMS) and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It was so disorganized that 3 war rooms were needed either by design or by default.
The ‘Joint Chiefs’ of Health.gov included CMS head Marilyn Tavenner, Jeanne Lambrew, HHS head Kathleen Sebelius. The group failed to find ‘actionable intel’ about how and why the website was failing for all to see They resorted to opening their laptops at the White House and tried to log on to health.gov .
The initial findings were the website was not able to process the number of simultaneous users. Five days after it’s opening Todd Park, the U.S. Chief Technology officer told USA today health.gov was designed for 50,000 and 250,000 attempted to use it at the same time. The real amazing fact was that Todd Park was never involved in the design of the system. Park is a highly successful health-care tech entrepeneur. During the redesign it was found the site was designed to only handle a few thousand users.
Chief of Staff Denis McDonough’s assignment was to determine if it should be abandoned entirely. Yes, on October 17 the President was ready to scrap the whole thing.