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MNsure's meltdown gets worse

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There's no questioning whether MNsure is a disaster. It's an unmitigated disaster with potentially horrific consequences. The only question left after reading quotes from Optum's report is what the political fallout will be to the DFL next November.

WCCO's Pat Kessler's reporting on MNsure's disfunction certainly won't help the DFL politically because it's a stinging indictment of MNsure's mismanagement. Here one thing Kessler said in the segment:

KESSLER: This is a scorching review of MNsure made by Optum. That's a division of UnitedHealth Care. Among the most damaging findings as MNsure melted down, no one was in charge of the project to find out what was wrong and fix it.

That's damning on multiple levels. First, the fact that the MNsure Board of Directors didn't assign a person to take responsibility for the project is inexcusable. Unfortunately, that isn't the only instance where oversight wasn't done. Let's remember that Rep. Atkins, the co-chair of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee, insisted that all would be well with MNsure:

It's the most protective IT system we'll have in the state of Minnesota. They've compared it with systems that protect private data from banks and many other folks who require privacy.

Apparently, Optum wasn't impressed with MNsure:

Their first two options take different approaches to reworking the website over the next two years. The third and more dramatic suggestion put forth Wednesday would have the state create new software architecture for the MNsure website.

That isn't the end of the criticism for MNsure:

KESSLER: MNsure is plagued by so many problems, it could takes month or years to resolve...Optum's report describes management and staff in crisis mode, with computer programs so defective many "experienced total failure" during the sign-up period. Astonishingly, the report said "no one person was in charge of the website or in fixing it.

MNsure's Board of Directors, which were appointed by Gov. Dayton, didn't put a high priority on establishing a chain of accountability. Any business knows that people need to be given affirmative responsibilities for completing a project. That's why IT shops have people with titles like senior project manager, assistant software analyst and lead programmer.

Based on Optum's report, that chain of command, which can be thought of as a chain of accountability, didn't exist. That's why problems weren't fixed and decisions were made while people panicked. The MNsure Board of Directors didn't put a high priority on that chain of accountability. The MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee didn't put a high priority on checking into whether a chain of accountability had been established.

That's a stinging indictment of Gov. Dayton's appointees to the MNsure Board of Directors. It's a stinging indictment of the Oversight Commitee's lack of competence. Neither thought it was a big enough deal to insist on establishing a chain of accountability.

That's simply unforgivable.

The only fix for this disaster is a) a new Board of Directors appointed by a new governor who puts a priority on competence and accountability and b) a new co-chair of the Oversight Committee, one that's committed to conducting timely investigations into MNsure's operations.

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