SALEM, Ore. – The woman at the center of the Cover Oregon website breakdown still isn’t talking about what happened and whether she should take the blame.
Carolyn Lawson resigned her position as the Chief Information Officer for the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services on Thursday.
Lawson’s resignation came one day after the KATU On Your Side Investigators asked her for an on-the-record interview; weeks of investigation and analysis had uncovered new documents showing a much closer relationship between Lawson and Cover Oregon website developer, Oracle, than had been previously disclosed. Lawson was also making outrageously sunny claims about her work on the online exchange that in hindsight sounded like outright lies.
KATU reporter Hillary Lake went to Lawson’s home Friday night to get her perspective on what really happened with the website and explain her relationship with Oracle. Lawson came to the door but, as soon as she saw KATU’s camera and microphone, she turned around and walked away. Lake knocked several more times and Lawson didn’t return to the door.
Lawson was in charge of overseeing the development of the Cover Oregon website. But as KATU’s On Your Side Investigators first reported, her vision for modernizing the state’s entire health and social service IT infrastructure as part of the insurance exchange, using untried Oracle software, overly complicated the project. By May 2013, top Cover Oregon staffers were alarmed that the broken platform she delivered would not be ready in time for the Oct. 1 ‘go-live’ date.
Cover Oregon didn't publicly acknowledge any of that concern until last month. A working website is still weeks – if not months – away from completion. Before her resignation, Lawson gave other media outlets conflicting answers about her role in the failure. Cover Oregon Executive Director Rocky King, who was subjected to withering criticism for his handling of the Cover Oregon stepped aside last month, citing health reasons, and is on medical leave. He’s been replaced by Dr. Bruce Goldberg, the Director of the Oregon Health Authority, who hired Lawson in 2011.
Gov. John Kitzhaber last week called for an independent investigation of the entire Cover Oregon project.
Full coverage of the troubled Cover Oregon website:
- Ore. health official in charge of building Cover Oregon website resigns
- Fewer enrollments challenge Oregon exchange budget
- Executive director of Cover Oregon taking medical leave
- Cover Oregon considers new solutions
- Kitzhaber calls for independent review of Cover Oregon
- New emails show Cover Oregon unraveling in days before launch
- Emails: Cover Oregon executive knew about website problems in May