On Wednesday, entrepreneur and current U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park testified on Capitol Hill about the ObamaCare rollout.
Park, an experienced entrepreneur who was named U.S. CTO in 2012, co-founded two health-care startups, Athenahealth and Castlight Health, before joining the public sector. Athenahealth is a cloud-based health-care company, while Castlight Health is a health-care shopping service.
Park has been a key figure in the “tech surge” initiated by President Obama to fix the ailing ObamaCare website. The surge is being led by entrepreneur Jeffrey Zients, who for years ran the Advisory Board Company and the Corporate Executive Board, eventually taking both companies public.
The White House wrote a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) last week asking that the testimony be postponed to a “time that is less disruptive to [his work fixing ObamaCare’s tech glitches].” On November 8, however, Rep. Issa subpoenaed Park, leading to his Wednesday testimony.
In his prepared statement, Park called ObamaCare’s problems “unacceptable.”
“I believe that as public servants, we have a shared goal—to deliver to Americans the service they deserve and expect. And since the beginning of October, I have shifted into working full-time on the team that is working around the clock to fix HealthCare.gov and bring it to the place it should be,” said Park.
He further testified that the website is improving week-over-week when it comes to performance, stability and functionality. Bringing a startup entrepreneur mentality to the project, Park confirmed in front of the committee that he had been sleeping on the floor of his office throughout the first week of October, in order to better serve the efforts.
Other entrepreneurs rallied behind Park, arguing that he should be allowed to work on ObamaCare rather than spend time preparing for his testimony.
The website LetToddWork.org, which housed a petition to allow Park to continue working on ObamaCare, rather than testify, was created by entrepreneurs Clay Johnson, Michael Aleo and Adam Becker. All three have ties to the White House; the firm co-founded by Johnson, Blue State Digital, built and managed President Obama’s online campaign before the 2008 election.
Entrepreneurs, many of them in the health-care space, also threw their support behind Park on Twitter, using the hashtag #lettoddwork.
Henry Chao, the deputy director of CMS’ Office of Information Services, Steven VanRoekel, the U.S. Chief Information Officer at the Office of Management and Budget, and David Powner, the director of information technology at the Government Accountability Office also testified at Wednesday’s committee hearing. Park was dismissed from the hearing early afternoon.