By JENNIFER HABERKORN |
11/7/13 6:45 PM EST
The Obama administration is refusing to make Todd Park, one of the chief technology officials repairing HealthCare.gov, available for a hearing next Wednesday with House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa.
They say he’s too busy right now fixing the Obamacare enrollment portal.
“Mr. Park is open to testifying at a hearing before your committee and to providing an appropriate pre-hearing briefing for you and your staff,” Donna M. Pignatelli, assistant director for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to the chairman. “However, because Mr. Park is currently occupied full-time on the critically important work of improving the website for the millions of Americans seeking affordable health insurance options, his testimony needs to be scheduled at a time that is less disruptive to that work.”
Park is devoting “nearly all of his attention and expertise” to helping CMS, Pignatelli wrote. “Pulling him away from that work even for a short time at this stage would be highly disruptive and would risk slowing the progress that has been made thus far to fix identified issues with the website.”
Park could provide an interesting look inside HealthCare.gov’s problems. He was central to the development of HealthCare.gov as the chief technology officer at HHS. But he left the agency in March 2012 for the White House, where he is the chief technology officer.
The letter from the White House to Issa was dated Nov. 6 — the day before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced the hearing.
Issa’s committee released the hearing notice earlier Thursday, saying it was to investigate the “operational challenges in the development of HealthCare.gov” and whether IT best practices were followed.
The committee released a witness list that included Park, HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Technology Frank Baitman, CMS Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao, U.S. Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel and David Powner, director of IT management at the Government Accountability Office.
The White House suggested rescheduling for the beginning of December.