House Republicans have issued a subpoena to former Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, demanding he reveal his role in launching HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance exchange portal. Park has refused on five occasions to testify before the House Science Committee, according to Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). Last month, the White House abruptly canceled a briefing that Park had scheduled with committee members because it did not want any official transcript of the meeting created, Smith said in a statement. “The American people deserve to know their personal information on HealthCare.gov is absolutely secure. That is why I issued a subpoena to compel Mr. Park to testify under oath about his role in the website’s development,” Smith said. According to the committee, the White House has acknowledged receipt of the subpoena but has not said whether Park would testify.
former Chief Technology Officer Todd Park
The White House is not stopping Park from testifying, according to a letter from White House counsel W. Neil Eggleston to Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), the chairman of the subcommittee on oversight. “Mr. Park will appear voluntarily for a hearing before the Subcommittee on a mutually convenient date in November to discuss your expressed interest in the healthcare.gov website,” Eggleston wrote. The White House Office on Science and Technology Policy has made Park and other officials available to the committee, and given it more than 1,000 pages of documents, he said. The subpoena comes less than a week before the midterm elections and just three weeks before Americans log on to HealthCare.gov to apply for 2015 health coverage. Park testified in November about HealthCare.gov before another House panel. He said he was not involved in the site’s development, but began working on it only after the problem-plagued launch on Oct. 1, 2013. In a new report, Science Committee Republicans challenged Park’s testimony. It appears he was “intimately involved” in developing the site, including its cybersecurity standards and protocols, according to the report. Based on documents the Health and Human Services Department gave Congress, Park appeared to communicate frequently with federal officials who were building and testing the site. The report cited emails sent before the site launched, in which Park planned a meeting to discuss the site’s abilities to withstand a cyber attack. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as the site’s operator, requires users to enter their Social Security numbers and other personal data so it can determine their eligibility for health plans. The IRS also uses the information to verify users for tax credits and subsidies. Republicans have sought to portray the Obama Administration as casting aside security concerns to meet its Oct. 1 deadline for the site’s launch. Because of last-minute tweaks to the site prior to the launch, it did not receive a full security test. Technology experts at the Health and Human Services Department said HealthCare.gov passed all cybersecurity requirements in December. Hackers last month broke into a HealthCare.gov server, in what is thought to be the first successful breach of the site’s security. They did not steal consumers’ information, according to the Obama Administration. HHS said it took steps to further strengthen security. Park stepped down as chief technology officer in August but did not leave the Obama Administration. In his new role, he is recruiting technology professionals in Silicon Valley to work for the government. RELATED STORIES: OMB wants HealthCare.gov lessons to endure in new Digital Service Office Federal IT officials shirk responsibility for HealthCare.gov problems