In Fell Swoop, Oracle Slashes Cover Oregon’s Programming Staff

Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Interim Executive Director, Cover Oregon

Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Interim Executive Director, Cover Oregon

Oracle, the software company responsible for making Cover Oregon’s website functional, has pulled around 100 programming staff from the project, the Oregonian is reporting.

About 65 Oracle staff remain on the project, but only to work on maintenance and operations. But the most important piece of Cover Oregon’s website — allowing individuals to browse insurance plans, see if they’re eligible for tax credits and ultimately enroll in health insurance — remains unfinished.

Nine major deficiencies have prevented that piece of the website from launching, and it’s unclear at this point who will finish the website, and when.

It’s the latest dispiriting news for Cover Oregon, which is the subject of multiple investigations and criticism from lawmakers who are demanding accountability and more transparency.

Oracle’s decision appears to be another significant blow to the troubled exchange.

Cover Oregon’s chief information officer, Aaron Karjala, told legislators last week that launching the portion of the website allowing insurance agents and community partners to enroll people in qualified health plans was the last major hurdle to launching the portion of its website allowing individuals to enroll.

He called it a “critical milestone,” and intimated that the code used for that part of the website could be used, or built upon, for the individual portal, making it sound as if the majority of work toward getting the website operational has been accomplished.

Cover Oregon’s relationship with Oracle in the last few months has been an uneasy and testy partnership at best. Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Cover Oregon’s acting director, has done little to hide his impatience with the IT contractor.

Cover Oregon has withheld from Oracle millions of dollars in payments and has started looking at possible legal action against the company. The exchange has also reportedly been working with technology consultant Deloitte, Inc., and communicating with other IT companies who have offered to become involved and finish the job.