- Associated Press - Saturday, March 29, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A review by an outside consultant has identified reasons for the troubled rollout of Vermont’s health care exchange website, which was criticized for being slow and not allowing users to correct mistakes.

Gov. Peter Shumlin requested the review following technical problems with the Vermont Health Connect last fall, Vermont Public Radio reported. The findings were shared with two legislative committees on Friday.

The review found state officials should have been more attentive to the evolving federal guidelines, the late start with the vendor, and a lack of expertise among state and vendors with this magnitude software project.

Charles Leadbetter of the consulting firm BerryDunn McNeil & Parker of Portland, Maine, spoke to lawmakers by Skype on Friday about the 70-page report, and mainly focused on 10 recommendations for the state in order to get better outcomes with future complex information technology projects, the Burlington Free Press reported (https://bfpne.ws/1jHovhY).

“Our intent is not to suggest the degree to which (Vermont Health Connect) may have achieved a different outcome had they been implemented,” the report said.

Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, D-Bradford, asked Leadbetter how Vermont Health Connect functions compared to other states.

“I don’t think Vermont is on the bottom of the pile,” Leadbetter said. “I think that it is important for Vermonters to understand.”

But Darcie Johnston, who has criticized the Shumlin administration for failing to disclose to the public some of the problems with Vermont Health Connect, said the report backed up her assessment.

“The states that were successful hired managers with proven skills in project management,” she said. Gov. Shumlin chose Mark Larson, a former state legislator, and his staff for their political support even though they had no demonstrated project management background, she said in an email to the newspaper. “The choice was made to try to achieve political success rather than to make the project a success,” she wrote.

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