Cover Oregon director Goldberg resigns; Governor releases investigation findings

Cover Oregon director Goldberg resigns; Governor releases investigation findings
Governor John Kitzhaber speaks at a news conference in Salem on Thursday, March 20. Kitzhaber announced results of the first official investigation into the failed Cover Oregon website. (KATU Photo)

SALEM, Ore. – Cover Oregon director Bruce Goldberg has resigned, Gov. John Kitzhaber said during his press conference on Thursday at which he released the results of an investigation into the troubled website.

Goldberg, who was head of the Oregon Health Authority while the website was being built, took over after Rocky King stepped aside in December.

The announcement came as Kitzhaber discussed what he called “very credible and very sobering” report from First Data.

“I am angry and I am disappointed by the rollout of Cover Oregon,” he said.

Among the problems the report outlined were a fundamental breakdown in project management; an overly ambitious scope; mistrust between Cover Oregon and OHA; and problems with software developer Oracle.

As the On Your Side Investigators have reported, many of the problems in the $228,000 investigation had already been highlighted by Maximus, the quality assessment firm that reviewed the project as it went along.

Failure to listen to Maximus was among the problems, Kitzhaber said.

“Key project management became desensitized to the QA report,” he said.

Kitzhaber said the state is still figuring out what comes next. Oracle has pulled much of its staff off the project after threatening to walk away altogether.

“We are not satisfied with the work we got from Oracle,” Kitzhaber said. “We have no intention of paying $26 million for work that has still not produced a functioning website.

“We are pursuing whatever legal means might be available to us.”

The state is still looking at linking up to the federal exchange, he said.

Kitzhaber said the state will review its current IT projects, as well as the way it conducts its procurement. Oracle’s unusual contract with the state allowed it to bill on what was essentially a time and materials plan, rather than charging the state a set fee for work delivered.

Kitzhaber refused to directly blame Goldberg – who will stay on until a replacement is hired, but won’t remain on with the state in any capacity after that – or Carolyn Lawson, the former OHA CIO who has since resigned.

Goldberg said in January that Lawson, his former subordinate and former Cover Oregon director Rocky King had led him and others to believe the website would be completed by its scheduled Oct. 1 go-live date.

“I don’t think we were misled,” Kitzhaber said. “I think we were given information that led us to believe that this project was going to be done on time.”

Kitzhaber’s office commissioned the investigation and reviewed it for nearly two weeks before releasing it to the general public. The feds’ Government Accountability Office has announced its own investigation, which could take months.

Kitzhaber said he welcomed the GAO investigation.

“We had a very inspirational but, as it turns out, unrealistic project,” he said.

Full coverage of the troubled Cover Oregon website:


Gov. John Kitzhaber's Thursday news conference:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3: