By Sandy Fitzgerald
Michelle Snyder, who supervised the troubled Obamacare rollout, is retiring this week, government officials said Monday, marking the second administration official to step down after the federal insurance exchange launched with numerous problems.
Snyder is leaving as the No. 2 official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, The New York Times reported Monday.
Marilyn Tavenner said Snyder, who is the agency's chief operating officer, is retiring "after 41 years of outstanding public service."
Her deputy, Tim Love, will fill the position on an acting basis. Snyder is in charge of day-to-day activities at the agency and of allocation of budget, personnel, and other resources, and as the HealthCare.gov website was being built, technology experts working on it reported directly to her.
Snyder's retirement comes after Medicare Chief Information Officer Tony Trenkle left in November to take a job in the private sector. Snyder had been prepared to retire at the end of 2012, said Tavenner, but stayed on "at my request to help me with the challenges facing C.M.S. in 2013.”
A former agency official, though, told The New York Times that Snyder "had to go."
"She was responsible for the implementation of Obamacare," the official, who was not named, said. "She controlled all the resources to get it done. She was in charge of information technology. She controlled personnel and budget."
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, at a congressional hearing on Oct. 30, tagged Snyder as the person responsible for developing the Obamacare website, but added that Snyder "is not responsible for those debacles. Hold me accountable for the debacle. I’m responsible."
CMS has undergone management changes since the botched rollout, but until now, only Trenkle had decided to leave. Meanwhile, Tavenner praised Snyder's "intelligence, experience and formidable work ethic" in her email announcing the career bureaucrat's retirement, while not mentioning the Obamacare website itself.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration announced on Dec. 17 that former Microsoft Corp. executive Kurt DelBene was stepping in to oversee the improved HealthCare.gov site, reports Reuters.
His work will include acting on a report issued by management consultant Jeffrey Zients, a former Office of Management and Budget official who will become head of the National Economic Council in January. Zients said said the website's issues were caused, in part, by slow decision making, bad management and a lack of accountability among people responsible for getting the site up and running, reports Reuters.
Technicians supervised by Zients fixed or improved more than 400 items on a “punch list” that grew quickly starting the week of Nov. 9.
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