Everyone seems to agree that someone should get fired over the Obamacare launch, though no one can confidently say who deserves a pink slip. On Wednesday, the House oversight committee will grill its newest candidate: Todd Park, the White House's Chief Technology Officer. The oversight committee really, really wants to talk to Park, so much so that, last Friday, they sent him an invite to a hearing this Wednesday with a subpoena attached. Park's supporters argue that he's kind of busy right now, what with Healthcare.gov still being a mess.
Democrats on the Oversight committee wrote to Issa on Monday, asking him to withdraw his "unnecessary and misguided" subpoena. Issa might give in to letters that call his actions unnecessary and misguided, but he's more likely to argue that, if Park has time to chat with the New York Times and USA Today, then why did he ditch the last two hearings?
Maybe because it's sure to be an extremely unpleasant experience. This subpoena puts him among the ranks of other high-ranking officials involved in the project and blamed for its failed launch. First there was Kathleen Sebelius, who managed to take a disastrous turn on The Daily Show before attending two hearings. Like Park, Sebelius was criticized for dodging the committee. Henry Chao, the Department of Health and Human Services' Deputy Chief Information Officer, was briefly in the spotlight when contractors blamed him for the delay of the website's window shopping tool. Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Chief Information Officer Tony Trenckle announced he was stepping down, or "retiring," making him the first casualty of the website.
Depending on how you look at it then, the "Let Todd Work" campaign is either an effort to keep him working on the website or keep him employed. The campaign was launched by two former White House innovation fellows, Clay Johnson and Adam Becker, and former White House art director Michael Aleo to get Congress to, well, let Park work on the website. "Instead of continuing to fix Healthcare.gov (a mess he did not make), Mr. Park has to spend his hours preparing for his testimony," the site reads. Johnson echoed that point during an interview with CNN. "What on Earth did he have to do with it in the first place? He's trying to fix it, and to my knowledge trying to clean up somebody else's mess isn't worthy of a subpoena," he said.
Park was the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Health and Human Services until March of last year, when he was promoted to his current job. In 2010, while he was with Health and Human Services he designed an early, less complex version of Healthcare.gov that was well received, Politico notes. Once he moved to the White House, his involvement with the website was limited, and just one of several tasks he worked on.
Park still has to testify, but #LetToddSpeak has picked up on Twitter. Sabrina Hersi Issa (no relation to Darrell), a Roosevelt Institute fellow, tweeted this:
And Upworthy engineer Luigi Montanez compared this to another witch hunt:
Meanwhile conservatives, like Charles Spiering at The Washington Examiner, would rather hear Todd speak:
More like poor healthcare.gov. If the federal exchange isn't up and running on November 30, the administration may blame the parade of hearings held this month and last month. Donna Pignatelli, the administration's assistant director of legislative affairs, went down that road when she wrote last week that this is kind of a bad time and pulling Park away "even for a short time at this stage would be highly disruptive and would risk slowing the progress that has been made thus far to fix identified issues with the website."