WASHINGTON -- An engineer from technology giant Google has been
recruited to help fix HealthCare.gov, the new federal insurance exchange
Software companies Red Hat and Oracle will also assist,
according to Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare
and Medicaid Services, which has coordinated the development of the site
that has experienced numerous problems in its first month of
"As part of the 'Tech Surge,' we've added key
personnel from the government and private sector, including expert
engineers and technology managers," Bataille wrote in a blog item posted
Thursday. "These dozens of people are strengthening and reinforcing
the team we have working 24/7 to address the problems around
During a question-and-answer session at Oracle's shareholders'
meeting today, CEO Larry Ellison said the database giant "thinks it is
our responsibility as a technology provider in the technology industry
to serve all of our customers, and the federal government is one of our
customers, so we are helping them in every way we can."
us want to see our government operating efficiently and effectively, and
it is incumbent upon us to help them do that," Ellison said.
Dickerson, a site reliability engineer at Google, has taken leave to
help rid the federal exchange of its glitches. Greg Gershman, a former
Presidential Innovation Fellow and Baltimore software engineer, will
help with creating better user experiences.
As a fellow, Gershman
worked to make it easier for outsiders, rather than government
employees, to navigate the 1,200 websites with federal government
Dickerson is working with QSSI, the general
contractor coordinating the fixes to the site, Bataille wrote. Gershman
is working with CGI Federal, the site's largest contractor, "to
improve HealthCare.gov's performance, and helping the development
process be more agile so HealthCare.gov can release improvements more
rapidly," Bataille wrote.
Thursday's announcement came as a frustrated group of Senate
Democrats vented their ongoing concerns about the rollout during a
private meeting with White House officials, including chief of staff
Denis McDonough, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, and Jeffrey Zients, whom President Obama
tapped to fix the problems with HealthCare.gov.
extraordinarily frustrated," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. "I don't
think there's confidence from anyone in the room. This is more a show-me
Merkley said there is support from senators like himself
for extending the enrollment period to make up for the glitch-riddled
"Many of us feel there has to be a sufficient window for
citizens to be able to exercise their judgment in signing up," Merkley
said, "Citizens need to have that window. If there is this kind of delay
on the front end, I certainly am advocating that we need to extend the
window on the back end."
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said he could
also support a short-term extension for a few weeks to make up for the
first three-to-four weeks of enrollment. "I don't think we need to go
further than that." Begich also stressed that citizens are not being
prevented from signing up. "Right now if people want to apply, they
can," he said.
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said the White House
officials assured wary senators that the site would be fully operational
by the Nov. 30 target. "The administration has a plan," Durbin said.
"They're taking the basic architecture of this and improving it and
trying to make up for some of the problems that they've had."
was tight-lipped when asked if they successfully assuaged Democrats'
concerns. "I think we had a really good discussion," he said.
was more candid. "We were all confident the system was going to up and
operating by Oct. 1 and now we're not confident until it's real."