The Corner

Cover Oregon Hiring IT Overseer, Witholding Pay from Primary IT Contractor

Cover Oregon, the Beaver State’s Obamacare exchange, is increasing oversight of its primary IT contractor.

Dr. Bruce Goldberg, the exchange’s interim director, said yesterday that he is hiring experts to look at the coding work on the exchange’s website done by Oracle in order to make sure the company isn’t creating new problems even as it works to solve bugs. Still, the IT contractor will continue its work on the site.

Though the Oregon Health Authority, which had initial control of the website, planned to hire an IT general contractor—known as a systems integrator—to oversee Oracle’s work, Carolyn Lawson, its Chief Information Officer, scrapped that approach two years ago. The state oversaw the work instead even though three consultants had approved of hiring a general contractor because of the state’s lack of technical expertise.

Though Lawson has defended her decision, Goldberg said Monday that a systems integrator was “certainly something that, in retrospect, would have been beneficial.”

Oracle has already been paid $90 million for its work even though the website has suffered from repeated setbacks and won’t be ready until well after January 1, 2014. However, Oregon is withholding millions of dollars in payment and Goldberg says the exchange is “finalizing arrangements with independent counsel . . . on the options that we have to hold the contractor accountable through the contract that we have.” 

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