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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Oregon health official resigns

Oregon health official resigns

PORTLAND — An Oregon official who oversaw most of the development of Oregon's troubled health insurance exchange has resigned.

Carolyn Lawson stepped down as chief information officer of the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services for "personal reasons," the agencies' leaders wrote in a short memo to Lawson's staff and other senior officials.

Lawson oversaw the development of the technology behind the online enrollment system for Cover Oregon, which is a separate, semi-autonomous state agency. When Lawson ran out of money unexpectedly in May, the development work was hastily handed over to staff at Cover Oregon, where an official wrote a scathing report highlighting serious problems with its functionality.

The online enrollment system still doesn't work more than two months after it was supposed to launch, a high-profile embarrassment for the state. Officials have had to use paper applications, with more than 400 people working around the clock to process them by hand.

Lawson was hired in 2011 to oversee technology projects for the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services. The state had just approved creating a health insurance exchange.

The exchange project was tacked onto a separate project to modernize the internal computers systems for both agencies, which administer public assistance programs like Medicaid, food stamps and welfare.

"We want to thank Carolyn for her service to our agencies and the state," OHA Acting Director Tina Edlund and DHS Director Erinn Kelley-Siel wrote in their memo.

Lawson's deputy, Steve Powell, was named interim chief information officer.

Lawson previously held IT positions in several California state agencies.

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