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CIO departs CMS; health exchange turmoil continues

November 7, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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The chief information officer of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has resigned following a month of turbulence over the flawed rollout of the healthcare marketplace and the revamped website.

Tony Trenkle, who has been with the agency since 2005, announced his resignation Wednesday in a staff email, saying he would be shifting to the private sector, effective Nov. 15. Dave Nelson, director of enterprise management, will become acting CIO.

CMS’ communications office would not say whether Trenkle’s departure is related to the site, but many of the site’s glitches may stem from poor planning and website development rather than in the IT security arena.

Due to delays in the site’s development, Trenkle and his staff were still assessing the security of the new insurance exchange system just days before its launch, noted the Washington Post. The Office of Inspector General had warned CMS in an August report that many security assessment tasks still needed to be completed before the scheduled October 1 rollout, including several stages of security control assessments whose summer 2013 deadlines kept being pushed back. The resulting delays meant that the crucial security authorization would not be obtained until September 30, far too late for the site to be thoroughly tested, the report noted.

During Trenkle’s tenure as director of information services and later as CIO, he played a key role in developing the Meaningful Use Stage 1 rule and served on the Health IT Policy Committee, an advisory group for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.