Burwell Pushes For New ‘Culture Of Transparency’ After Latest Obamacare ‘Mistake’

Font Size:

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is not happy with her agency’s “mistake” that falsely upped Obamacare enrollment totals by almost 400,000 and is asking staff to commit to a “culture of transparency.”

Burwell has been talking a big game about transparency since taking office earlier this year, making it even more embarrassing when a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigation revealed that under her guidance, HHS agencies had twice released falsified Obamacare enrollment numbers.

Burwell wrote to her senior staff Sunday evening, attempting yet again to instill transparency into the agency, in an email leaked to Vox.

“I believe strongly that a hallmark of effective leadership and management is instilling a culture of transparency, ownership and accountability,” Burwell wrote. “As leaders, we all must have a sense of urgency in promoting these cultural values.”

“Let me be clear: this mistake was unacceptable,” Burwell said of the enrollment flub. “One of our most important obligations to the American people is to report information and data accurately. We are working quickly to understand what happened and to improve our processes in order to prevent similar mistakes from occurring again.”

The agency double-counted stand-alone dental plans in its totals for medical insurance, incorrectly boosting the numbers above the Obama administration’s goal for the law’s first year. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief Marilyn Tavenner has suggested the administration’s failure to finish HealthCare.gov’s automated systems for reporting between insurers and the federal government caused the problem. (RELATED: Official Suggests HealthCare.gov Flub To Blame for False Obamacare Numbers) 

“As an initial step, I am asking each of you to schedule a staff meeting to ask for suggestions to strengthen this culture of increased transparency, ownership, and accountability, and for those suggestions to be reported back to me,” Burwell wrote. “I will convene a senior leadership meeting to hear and discuss those suggestions.”

Burwell promised last week that she’d take action to find out what happened and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“While we understand some will be skeptical, our clarity that this is a mistake and the fact that we have quickly corrected the numbers should give people confidence,” Burwell said in a Facebook chat with MSNBC host Chris Hayes. (RELATED: Burwell: Trust Us Because We Admitted Our Obamacare Mistake After The Media Reported It) 

Follow Sarah on Twitter