Report: Feds didn’t allow testing of Obamacare site until week before launch

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The federal agency overseeing the implementation of the Obamacare federal exchange did not test the site until a week before its Oct. 1 launch, The Washington Examiner reports.

According to individuals with knowledge of the development of the site, the root cause of the problems that beset the launch of the federal health care exchange is a decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to act as the central coordinator for the project — a “systems integrator.”

CMS continued to make changes to the project all the way up to a week before the site’s launch, delaying testing that normally takes four to six months to work out.

That testing, one source said, is normally done by a company with technical capabilities like IBM — not a federal agency — to act as a systems integrator.

“The challenge with this project was that the decisions were made very, very late in the project, and no one organization … seemed to know how this complex ecosystem of applications, interfaces, user processes and hardware should all work together,” the source told the Washington Examiner.

IT problems frequently occur when federal government agencies choose to take on roles normally reserved for private contractors.

An expensive overhaul of the federal government’s left users frustrated after an Oct. 2011 relaunch that plagued users with failed login attempts and a confusing site design.

Former director of the Office of Personnel Management John Berry blamed the site problems on high user traffic volume.

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