President Barack Obama’s health agency said it has spent $319 million building an online health-insurance marketplace through October.
More than three years after the passage of Obama’s signature health-care law in 2010, it’s almost impossible to verify and track that spending through public records.
What the estimates don’t include is the around-the-clock effort to repair the website, which hundreds of thousands of Americans found unusable after its Oct. 1 debut. The race to fix it brought in computer engineers from companies such as Google Inc., Red Hat Inc. and Oracle Corp. and is ongoing today.
The figures include what has been paid to contractors, according to Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the health department. The spending details should be accessible on public websites intended to offer government transparency. Instead, the sites present incomplete and sometimes contradictory data, according to open government advocates.
“The administration hasn’t been transparent about enrollment figures, costs and other key metrics -- almost everything they release has a qualifying asterisk with a built-in spin,” U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight committee, said in an e-mailed statement. “‘The most transparent administration in history’ is as much of a punch line as ‘if you like your plan, you can keep it.’”