Policy: Technology

Obama loyalists head up 'tech surge' for Obamacare website

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White House,Watchdog,Richard Pollock,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health and Human Services,Health Care,CGI Federal,Technology

Administration loyalists from the technology community are being tapped to join the "tech surge" designed to rescue the malfunctioning Obamacare website.

Originally, the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services pledged that Silicon Valley's "best and brightest" were being mobilized to save the botched website.

Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer on leave from Google, is one of two new advisers to aid the website, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which oversees the Obamacare insurance rollout.

Dickerson was a leader for Obama's 2012 tech-savvy re-election campaign. He built the Election Day monitoring program for the Obama for America campaign organization and produced real time Election Day monitoring and modeling for the election, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Dickerson also created a computing tool for the campaign that would allow campaign workers to determine the "walkability" of their get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day. He assisted the Obama campaign's national media buys by creating an algorithm and tool that could help strategists determine the party preference and behavior of viewers of specific television shows.

The Google engineer also wrote the disaster recovery programs for all databases for Obama for America and conducted reliability assessments for many of the Obama campaign teams' analytics.

Greg Gershman is an innovation director for smartphone application maker Mobomo and a former White House innovation fellow. He served in the Obama White House's first innovation fellowship in 2012. Gershman was assigned to the General Services Administration for Project MyGov. His assignment was to help citizens connect more easily with the GSA website.

The administration has been very reluctant to identify the members of the "tech surge," which was first unveiled Oct. 20.

Jeffrey Zients, a former White House deputy budget director who returned to head up the healthcare.gov rescue effort, was the only publicly-named tech surge member for weeks.

Earlier this week the Washington Examiner reported that only White House innovation fellows were part of the tech surge at CGI Federal, the prime Obamacare web designer.

Dickerson has been assigned to QSSI, the new health care systems integrator. QSSI originally designed the website's data hub that sends users to various government agencies and verification companies. The Columbia, Md.-based company also tested elements of the failing web system.

Gershman is assigned to CGI Federal, the Canadian company that is the main website designer.

Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce.com, told Politico on Oct. 27 that his firm volunteered to help, “but we were turned away.”

Benioff said, “We are not there. They would need to say, ‘Bring in your team.’”

CMS has declined to say how much the two consultants are being paid for their services.

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