As yesterday’s conversations with Chairman Fred Upton and Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts revealed, while the focus is on next week’s testimony by HHS Secretary Sebelius, quite a lot of preparation has gone into tomorrow’s hearing with five of the contractors who helped create the biggest glitch in government domestic policy history.
House Republicans have promised investigations into the website problems, and witnesses from four firms who hold Obamacare-related contracts are scheduled to appear at a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing Thursday. No witness from HHS is expected, although Sebelius will likely testify at another hearing next week.
The absence of a government witness at the Thursday hearing could allow those present to push blame toward the government — a tactic that is typical when contractors and the feds end up in a fight over failed or delayed work.
Of course this isn’t primarily a contracting issue, but a question of deception for political purposes. The Committee Republicans at least have to stay focused on what warnings did the contractors give and to whom, and how often did they repeat them.
As important is the question of data security: Are Americans importing great quantities of their most personal data into secure sites, or have warnings been given there too?
Specific, focused and often repetitive questions are the order of the day, and grandstanding by Committee members should be strangled immediately by Chairman Upton.
Suggested key lines of questions:
Does the theft of any of the data being inputed into these systems seem likely to you? Have you provided any member of the government with any warnings about the security of the data being inputted into the system by American citizens? If you did provide such warning, to whom did you give it and when? Was it in writing?
Are you involved in the Spanish language website rollout? Did you receive any instructions to slow that site down for any reason? If so, why? If not, why is it not yet open?
Who are your primary contacts at the Department of Health and Human Services? Did you ever have any contact at all, via email or phone, with the White House staff?
The president announced a “Tech Surge” to repair the damage you have done. Have you been contacted by any new team members? Who are they? Do you have an opinion on their credentials and skills sets?
The president asserted a 24/7 effort to salvage your work is underway. Do you know where that is occurring? Is it 24/7? Are you being paid for your contributions to that effort?
Have your lawyers advised you with regards to any potential question or subject matter area to invoke the protections of the Fifth Amendment?