|Darrell Issa, Chairman of House Committee
On Oversight And Government Reform
Vanguard of Freedom News reported yesterday on Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman, Darrel Issa's admonition of Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Director for her telling government contractors not to comply to the Congressional Committees requests for information about the roll-out of the HealtCare.gov website. Issa promptly warned Sebelius that telling them not to comply was against the law. (See that story HERE).
Today two of those contractors ignored orders from HHS Director, Sebelius, and complied with the Committee's request for data regarding their involvement with the website.
The House Oversight Committee announced that contractor Creative Computing Solutions, Inc. (CCSi) "...rejected an unlawful request from the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold documents subpoenaed by the Oversight Committee..."
According to a Committee statement:
"...In a letter to HHS Office of Acquisition and Grants Management Director Daniel Kane CCSi Senior Vice President wrote: 'CCSi takes [its] contractual compliance and customer relations extremely seriously. To that end, CCSi has concluded, after consulting legal counsel, that the enclosed subpoena compels production of the documents requested and, therefore, falls outside the above-referenced contract clause and guidance letter from your office. A validly-issued congressional subpoena compelling the production of documents that are within CCSi’s possession is neither a ‘request’ for documents nor an ‘unauthorized’ disclosure of such documents.'..."
The Committee describes that as a response to a December 6, 2013 letter from HHS to CCSi that demanded, "...As it relates to your contract with CMS, you are required to inform me, as Director of the Office of Acquisition and Grants Management, of any requests for ST&E information that you receive from any party, and you may not release documents without authorization from CMS. If you receive a request for this information from Congress, CMS will respond directly to the requestor and will work with the requestor to address its interests in this information...”
Later today, Chariman Issa scored another victory for the Oversight Committee, and reports via Committee statement that "...a second contractor working on the HealthCare.gov website, has rejected illegal requests from the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee..."
The Committee's statement says that MITRE's President and CEO Alfred Grasso, in a letter sent to the Committee today, stated:: “MITRE continues to believe that HHS is the appropriate party to provide the Committee with the unredacted SCA documents you are seeking. Nonetheless, I understand from consultation with MITRE’s legal counsel that MITRE has no alternative but to comply with the terms of a congressional subpoena absent some form of judicial intervention.”
Issa reiterated his position on the matter stating:
"...MITRE’s decision is a rejection of efforts by the White House to obstruct oversight...The American people deserve an honest assessment of decisions by the Administration to proceed with the October 1 launch of HealthCare.gov despite warnings about security vulnerabilities. When we have released information on sensitive topics, we have exercised great care to ensure that there are not unintended consequences. Most often, these releases shed light on false and misleading public statements, whether they are made by the Administration or others. In reviewing the documents lawfully provided by MITRE, we intend to consult carefully with non-conflicted experts to ensure no information is released that could further jeopardize the website’s security..."
In additition to yesterday's warning issued to HHS Director, Sebelius, Oversight Committee Chairman, Issa said today: "Americans should be disturbed that this Administration is trying to stop government contractors from providing Congress with documents related to the decision to launch HealthCare.gov while known and serious security vulnerabilities were and still may be present. CCSi’s analysis of the law is correct and its decision to comply protects its executives, investors, and customers from the risk of criminal prosecution for contempt of Congress...The Committee has told HHS that it will make needed consultations with security experts to ensure the protection of sensitive information. The Administration’s remaining objections are a specious effort to hide serious problems and reckless decision making by officials..."