Former IT program manager Chao retires from CMS

Henry Chao is leaving the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after more than 21 years at the agency. Chao led the IT portion of the Affordable Care Act ...

Henry Chao, the technology lead of the initial roll out, is retiring from government.

Chao is leaving his position as the deputy director in the Office of Information Services for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) after more than 21 years with the agency.

A CMS spokesman confirmed Chao’s last day was April 30. The spokesman didn’t say who would replace him.

An email to Chao was not returned either.

Chao was front and center for much of the fallout after the portal had problems.

He testified before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in November 2013 about the roll out of the site and the cybersecurity oversight process. Chao was one of four federal IT executives to testify, along with Frank Baitman, current Health and Human Services chief information officer, and former federal CIO Steve VanRoekel and former federal Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. Chao was the only official to push back against members’ claims that the site was an “abysmal failure” by saying that opinion was “highly subjective,” and that the cybersecurity testing was flawed, again saying, “It was tested under the prescribed security controls.”

But at the same time, Chao was widely blamed for dropping the ball on the program management and contractor oversight. House lawmakers said in November 2013 that Chao told HHS officials months before the Oct. 1, 2013, launch of the portal about the program’s problems with contractors and the software to run key parts of the site, but he failed to make changes as program manager.

The debacle that was the roll out may be what Chao is remembered most prominently for, but he spent a large part of his federal career trying to bring CMS into the 21st century from a technology perspective.

From 2010 to 2012, Chao was the CIO of the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO), where he oversaw IT implementations using agile development techniques, infrastructure-as-a-service provisioning, Web services to collaborate with state level IT organizations to build shared services.

Chao also served as the CMS CTO from 2007 to 2010, where he led the final design and implementation phases of new systems to support the Medicare Prescription Drug Program (Medicare Part D) and the implementation of 10 major Part D systems, which facilitated the enrollment of 29 million beneficiaries into the Prescription Drug Program, according to his online bio.


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