Lawson: Cover Oregon troubles not her fault

Written by The Associated Press March 03, 2014 12:35 pm

PORTLAND — Carolyn Lawson, the Oregon Health Authority’s senior IT manager who resigned in the wake of the state’s health-insurance exchange fiasco, said she is not to blame for Cover Oregon’s botched rollout.

Lawson, who resigned in mid-December as chief information officer, said she repeatedly warned her superior Bruce Goldberg, then director of the Oregon Health Authority, that the exchange was in trouble. She said Goldberg took no action.

“I raised alarms,” Lawson told The Oregonian Friday. “I was pounding the table. We were bleeding money.”

Goldberg declined to comment on that claim. State officials have previously blamed Lawson for failing to hire a systems integrator as the general manager on the exchange project.

But Lawson defended that decision, saying a systems integrator was too expensive. Instead, she said what hindered the technology’s development was Cover Oregon’s inability to settle on business requirements for the exchange.

She also blamed inferior work by Oracle Corp., the state’s main technology contractor, for the problems.

“I’m disappointed. There are clearly issues with the coding,” she said. “They did not do a good and consistent job of delivering the environments.”

But it was the Oregon Health Authority technology department under Lawson’s command that was tasked with building the exchange, which was only a small piece of Oregon’s grand vision: a one-stop-shop for people seeking health insurance, food stamps or other government assistance.