Document: Cover Oregon knew of ‘production problems’

Rocky King, Executive Director of Cover Oregon, announces opening day of the health exchange in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. Cover Oregon begins offering services today.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Rocky King, Executive Director of Cover Oregon, announces opening day of the health exchange in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. Cover Oregon begins offering services today.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A Cover Oregon internal memo obtained by KOIN 6 News questions whether Oracle is to only blame for the health exchange website debacle.

Gov. John Kitzhaber on Thursday asked Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to sue Oracle over the website’s failure.

“We need to hold them accountable for their share of the responsibility,” the governor said.

But Oracle fired back in a statement:

“Cover Oregon…badly mismanaged the project by consistently failing to deliver requirements in a timely manner and failing to staff the project with skilled personnel.”

The document

The document KOIN 6 News obtained is between a former Cover Oregon Chief Operating Officer Triz delaRosa and staff members talking about website production issues.

“We can’t hold Oracle to their contract because we have production problems,” one staffer wrote.

Another staffer responded: “The bottom line…there was supposed to be a process to go to production ready state, and because we didn’t follow that, we can’t hold them accountable for not going through that process.”

The document was written September 18, 2013, just days before the Cover Oregon website was supposed to launch in October 2013 — and while the public was still in the dark about the failures to come.

In a February 2014 hearing, state Sen. Alan Olsen  of Canby asked Cover Oregon’s Chief Information Officer, Aaron Karjala, if the document meant the state dropped the ball.

Olsen: “I have a document in front of me that says, that stated that we can’t hold Oracle to their contract because we have production problems.”

Karjala: “Quite frankly with the system not fully released, it would have been too soon to try to move into a production readiness type of phase.”

In the memo, the Cover Oregon staffer wrote:

“CO doesn’t have the level of technical staff on board to meet the steps.”

Olsen, in that February hearing, asked, “Do you now have the staff available that can meet the technical steps?”

Karjala responded, “In the last eight weeks we’ve brought in, we’ve brought in additional expertise.”

For months, KOIN 6 News asked for an explanation from Cover Oregon about the memo. Previously spokesman Michael Cox said, “We have brought on independent legal counsel to review our contract with Oracle.  Any answers about that contract must be deferred until that review is complete.”

Another request to Cover Oregon for explanation on this day has not been returned at this time.

In their pushback against Kitzhaber’s call for a lawsuit, Oracle officials also said, “We understand the political nature of the announcement just made and that the governor wants to shift blame from where it belongs.”

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