HHS Senior Officials Ignored Warnings on Healthcare.gov Risks

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(Punditcy.com) – [via The Foundry] – A government security expert told members of the House Oversight Committee that she informed officials at Health and Human Services (HHS) in the days leading up to the rollout that the Healthcare.gov was “too dangerous to use.”

Teresa Fryer, the Chief Information Security Officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the branch responsible for ObamaCare, recommended “a denial of Authority to Operate (ATO)” for Healthcare.gov because she deemed it “a high risk.”  In spite of the security issues and Fryer’s multiple warnings, Healthcare.gov was launched as scheduled.  The results of the rollout have been extensively reported and can be categorized as catastrophic at best.

[image src=”http://punditcy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Sebelius_Secretary_of_HHA.jpg” width=”250″ lightbox=”no” frame=”light” align=”left” float=”left”]The security risks of the site were elevated within HHS, but Secretary Sibelius testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that she was never warned by anyone that the scheduled roll out of the Healthcare.gov website would be the disaster it turned out to be.

A CMS spokesperson has said that security measures are in place on the Healthcare.gov website, but Fryer, an expert in computer security, understood the truth about cybersecurity: You can be or have been hacked or have a serious vulnerability in your system and not even know about it.  And, as Fryer implied, these “unknown risks” can’t be fixed or mitigated because no one even knows they exist.

With full understanding of the known and unknown threats, Fryer recommended that the website not be launched.  Fryer not only told her boss, the now-retired Chief Information Officer of CMS Tony Trenkled, but she also briefed Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius’ top information officers including HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Technology.  They decided to ignore her warnings, despite the potentially “catastrophic” danger that it posed to Americans’ personal information.

Secretary Sebelius testified before Congress on Oct 30 and told Congress that “I can tell you that no senior official reporting to me ever advised me that we should delay. We have testing that did not advise a delay. So not—not to my knowledge.”  So, either one of two things are true.  Either the Secretary lied to Congress, or her staff is undeniably incompetent for not informing her of a risk of this magnitude.  And still no one has lost their jobs.

I have never understood why anyone would want the federal government to be responsible for anything, with the possible exception of national defense.  The designed bureaucracies and inherent inefficiencies of the federal governmental system were purposely created to limit how fast they could change.  The idea is that if things changes slow enough, a tyrannical administration or rogue Congress could get replaced before too many radical changes could put into effect.  This also means, although many just can not seem to grasp this concept, it is ALWAYS going to cost more than the private sector.  Additionally, it will never be as good as it would be in a private industry because the incentives are not the same.  Private companies perform for survival.  Government employees just perform.

It has been said that bureaucracy is not an obstacle to democracy but, especially in this case, it is complement to it.  The atrocities of the Affordable Care Act are just more proof that the government cannot do it better than can be done in the free market.   I would hate to surmise the changes that this government could propagate upon us if it were not for the bureaucratic brakes holding them back.

I leave you with this quote from Thomas Sowell:

“It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.”