Obama's tech expert becomes target over healthcare website woes

Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:23pm EDT
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By Roberta Rampton and Sarah McBride

Oct 25 (Reuters) - Todd Park has gone from steering his healthcare information technology company through a blockbuster IPO to occasionally sleeping on a mat in his office while working to repair the troubled new U.S. government healthcare website.

Park, the chief technology officer for the White House and a top advisor to President Barack Obama, now finds himself among a handful of officials with targets on their backs as Republicans try to root out who is responsible for this month's glitch-ridden rollout of Healthcare.gov.

Five years ago, Park was a private-sector tech success story having led his company to an initial public offering and starting a second one that was attracting millions of dollars in venture capital.

The 40-year-old helped build the original Healthcare.gov website in 90 days in 2010 when he was chief technology officer at the Department of Health and Human Services. The website then provided information about public and private insurance programs, sorted by zipcode.

The White House trotted him out in July to talk up the new version, which is designed to be the main portal for millions of uninsured Americans to buy coverage through federal exchanges, an important part of Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

"I've taken a look at the early prototypes. They're incredibly impressive. And the teams are using all kinds of advanced technology to make sure that that experience will only help insurance," Park said in a CNBC TV interview in July.

But the exchanges' debut on Oct. 1 was anything but impressive, beset by technical glitches. Three weeks later, many people are still unable to sign on and enroll.

Park, the son of Korean immigrants who grew up in Ohio and earned an economics degree from Harvard, has kept a low profile despite being part of what the government described as a "tech surge" racing to fix the website's problems.   Continued...