PORTLAND, Ore. - Newly unearthed emails shed light on the fight to reveal information about the management of Cover Oregon's failed website during the last months of 2013.
This comes as Oregon's Committee on Legislative Audits, Information Management and Technology prepares to meet Thursday to review the state's major information technology projects.
Oregon Health Authority managers edited the quality-assurance contractor's report to massage information about a controversial set of expenditures totaling $119 million; they claimed to have forgotten about what they themselves described as a "heavily disputed" report when the media requested a copy. And they edited out a finding that there was no way to "conclude that the current governance structure is adequate or effective."
The On Your Side Investigators found the new information in a batch of emails from late last year sent to and from former OHA CIO Carolyn Lawson, the woman who was originally responsible for building the since-scrapped website.
The emails included a working copy of the report submitted by quality-assurance contractor Maximus, with OHA's edits tracked.
Near the top of the August-November 2012 report, a section was edited out criticizing project management.
The removed section read: "Although we are aware of strong executive interest and varying degrees of involvement of the senior executives, we cannot conclude that the current governance structure is adequate or effective."
Managers also reworked a section of the report discussing roughly $119 million in controversial purchase orders with software vendor Oracle.
Maximus was critical of the purchase orders, which – thanks to the state's unusual contract with Oracle that had been designed to maximize efficient transactions on the DHS modernization project – didn't require statements of work detailing what the money was being spent on.
Management edited out one sentence implying the scope of the problematic purchase orders could be even larger than it had found.
The following sentence was removed entirely: "Please note that this was neither an exhaustive audit nor detailed legal review."
A year later, when the media began asking for copies of the Maximus reports, OHA management claimed at first it wasn't aware that same controversial November edition existed before it eventually turned it over, after repeated prodding from spokesperson Patty Wentz.
Lawson's chief deputy – a man named Steve Powell, who had previously been her supervisor at a job in California – didn't include the November report with a batch he sent in response to a media request Wentz facilitated.
Wentz apologized for asking yet again about the November report.
"From what I understand, Maximus was contracted to provide 4 quarterly update reports," Powell wrote in response. "These are the only ones I'm aware of and I've double checked the site. ...
"... This was before my direct involvement with Maximus, so I'm speculating."
From the initial risk assessment onward, OHA was allowed to review and rebut Maximus' reports before they were published.
Four days later, Powell sent Wentz the report, adding that it had been the subject of much debate at OHA when it was originally released.
"I found it!!!" he wrote. "This report was heavily disputed by the state and took a while to resolve. I did not have copies of this report, but we were able to find it in Carolyn's archives."
The November 2012 report was also the first time Maximus attached an in-depth addendum deeply critical of OHA's decision to develop a "no wrong door" policy designed to integrate many state entitlement programs in one.
The ambitious plan was a big part of the reason the federal government gave the state hundreds of millions of dollars in "early innovator" grant money, and has been given a large share of the blame for the website's failure to come together.
Full coverage of the troubled Cover Oregon website:
- Subpoenas issued in Cover Oregon investigation
- Retiring Cover Oregon manager fires off damning email about state leaders
- Emails further suggest Cover Oregon used 'smoke and mirrors' for fed money
- New emails suggest Cover Oregon leaders started celebrating far too early
- KATU investigation finds Oracle shares blame with Cover Oregon for website disaster
- Panel recommends Oregon move to federal health exchange
- Oracle says it's not to blame for failed launch of Cover Oregon
- No decision on future of Cover Oregon but options narrowed to two
- Report: Federal exchange cheapest fix for Cover Oregon
- Cover Oregon goes to Congress, defends work that's been done
- Cover Oregon invites public to once-secret oversight meetings
- Top Cover Oregon IT official resigns
- Cover Oregon: Apply for insurance in April and avoid federal penalty
- Cover Oregon makes secret meetings public, won't explain the change
- Secret Cover Oregon oversight meetings may violate public meetings law
- Cover Oregon announces $1 million ad blitz to raise awareness
- Months later, Gresham woman still wondering if she has health insurance
- Portland tech company to governor: We can fix Cover Oregon's website
- State granted one-month extension for Cover Oregon enrollment
- First Data report: Cover Oregon didn't have federally required backup plan
- Watch: Your Voice Your Future Town Hall: Cover Oregon
- Cover Oregon confessions: Are they playing games with your health?
- New report answers many Cover Oregon questions - often for second time
- Cover Oregon directory Goldberg resigns; Governor releases investigation findings
- Cover Oregon: Still pushing for deadline extension
- Oregon tied for last in nation for young-adult health-insurance sign-ups
- Cover Oregon: Apply now if you want health insurance this year
- Federal government announces Cover Oregon investigation
- Former Cover Oregon director says 'all of us' share blame for failures
- Top Cover Oregon official refuses to discuss Lawson resignation
- Official: Oracle not allowing Cover Oregon probe access to 6 employees
- Trouble with Cover Oregon? You may still get federal tax credits
- Cover Oregon website developer pulls 100 worker off project
- Ex-Cover Oregon website chief: 'I stuck to the talking points ... they were not accurate'
- High-level IT consultant on Cover Oregon: 'They didn't know what they were doing'
- New Cover Oregon allegations: 'If it's true, someone's going to prison.'
- Paging Dr. Kitzhaber: What did the governor know about Cover Oregon collapse?
- State rep., U.S. Senate candidate calls for the end of Cover Oregon
- Cover Oregon head: State might scrap all or part of failing website
- State lawmakers to grill Cover Oregon chief
- Family struggles to sign up for insurance through Cover Oregon
- First legal complaint filed over health enrollment mistakes
- Democratic state lawmaker believes Cover Oregon can be saved
- Contractor plans to examine why Cover Oregon failed
- 'We look like fools:' A history of Cover Oregon's failure
- State rep: Ditch Cover Oregon in favor of federal exchange
- Video: Exclusive Interview: Gov. John Kitzhaber - Cover Oregon 1/9/2014
- Gov. denies prior knowledge of Cover Oregon failure, exits exclusive KATU interview
- Kitzhaber outlines Cover Oregon's next steps: 'I can't give you a date'
- Kitzhaber: Firm will review Cover Oregon failures
- Cover Oregon applications left in limbo?
- Man with cancer waiting on Cover Oregon, gets insured
- Man with cancer still waiting on Cover Oregon
- New calls for Cover Oregon to take responsibility for project failures
- Rocky King, director of troubled Cover Oregon, resigns
- Salem man says Cover Oregon error left him in health care limbo
- Some question if they'll be covered by Cover Oregon in the new year
- What doomed Cover Oregon? 'Mismanagement,' say former employees
- After resigning, Lawson not talking about Cover Oregon website failures
- 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
- Cover Oregon complicated by state's grand vision