Cover Oregon probe wants access to Oracle staff
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Independent investigators looking into the failures with the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange have not been able to talk to six Oracle employees whom they've asked to interview, a state official told lawmakers Friday.
Oracle Corp., the main contractor working on the troubled technology, has made available only one senior staffer who wasn't among the six that investigators asked to interview, said Sarah Miller, Oregon's deputy chief operating officer who is overseeing the contractor performing the review.
Miller said Oracle has allowed questioning of its chief technology officer, who she said reports directly to the company's CEO, but she wasn't sure how involved he was in developing the technology.
The review is being conducted by First Data Government Solutions at the request of Gov. John Kitzhaber.
The lack of complete participation by Oracle concerned Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson, a Portland Democrat who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Legislative Audits, Information Management and Technology, which oversees information technology projects.
"The best way for us to find out what happened is for us to talk to all of the people who were involved," Vega Pederson said. "It doesn't seem like Oracle is giving First Data the opportunity to do that."
An Oracle spokeswoman, Deborah Hellinger, declined to comment.
Oregon is the only state that doesn't have an online portal where the general public can sign up for health insurance through a marketplace required under President Barack Obama's health care law. The state recently launched its enrollment system for insurance agents and community organizations that have been trained to use it, but there's no target for when it might be available to the general public.
Miller said the state produced 2,500 documents and First Data interviewed 67 people over the past three weeks, including officials from the governor's office, two state agencies, legislators, Cover Oregon and many of its vendors. The governor is expected to get a briefing on the report during the second week of March, at which time it will be delivered to the Department of Justice to review what information can be released publicly.
Information will only be withheld from the public if it's required by law, most likely information that Oracle asserts is a trade secret.
"If there's no data in the report that the public records law would require us to redact, there will only be one report delivered," Miller told lawmakers.
The report is being closely watched, in part because Kitzhaber and senior state managers have refused to answer many questions about Cover Oregon, saying they don't want to get ahead of First Data's review.
It isn't likely to attribute information to specific sources, Miller said, but it's expected to include a list of people investigators asked to speak with and a list of people they were actually able to speak with.
First Data asked to record audio and video of its interviews, but Miller said the state refused on the advice of lawyers. She declined to elaborate, but Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, said the state was probably trying to make sure there wasn't evidence created that could be used against it in a potential lawsuit with Oracle. The state has hired a law firm to review its legal remedies under its contract with the Redwood City, Calif., company.
Meanwhile, Cover Oregon officials told the committee that agents and community groups have signed up about 1,750 people for health insurance through the online portal that's available to them, up from about 700 a week ago.
About 100 Oracle developers were removed from the project this week. Cover Oregon's chief information officer, Aaron Karjala, said that's because the focus has now shifted to testing and fixing the system that's available to insurance agents with an eye toward releasing it to the general public.
"We do not need the previous staffing levels because we are not building new things at this point," Karjala said.
Several planned functions have been delayed, including a portal allowing small businesses to purchase coverage and interfaces to automatically transfer information to insurance companies.