Sparks flew Wednesday at a hearing on the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov as Republican lawmakers grilled former White House Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Todd Park about his role in the site's creation.
GOP members had sought for almost a year to bring Park before the House Science and Technology Committee, desiring to suss out his level of involvement in the debacle.
The administration has consistently argued he was not a key player, though he assisted greatly with the effort to fix the system by the end of November 2013.
Park ultimately testified after months of back-and-forth between Republicans and the White House. The panel issued a subpoena, though White House officials said it was unnecessary because Park had already agreed to serve as a witness voluntarily.
The event's tone recalled the hostility of healthcare hearings last fall, as Republicans hammered Park over his claims that he did not have detailed knowledge of the problems at HealthCare.gov prior to last Oct. 1.
Rep. Paul BrounPaul Collins BrounHundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia Joe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia California lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment MORE (R-Ga.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, opened the hearing by accusing Park and the White House of avoiding congressional scrutiny.
"I find your and the White House's lack of transparency intolerable," Broun told Park, "and an obstruction of this committee's role of conducting oversight."
"That begs the question: what are you hiding, Mr. Park? I have some ideas. Perhaps it is because you knew there were serious problems with HealthCare.gov prior to the launch but you did not communicate them up the chain during your meetings with the president," Broun said.
Park stated repeatedly that while he was in contact with project managers for HealthCare.gov within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), he was not responsible for the site's functionality.
"I was not a project manager who was managing and executing the day-to-day operational work of building HealthCare.gov," Park told lawmakers. "I didn't have the kind of comprehensive, detailed, deep knowledge of that project that a manager would have."
Republican lawmakers grew heated in several instances.
"You [were] the nation's CTO appointed by the president to assure the safety and the security of our networks," said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio). "You can't just say this was CMS's responsibility … You can't delegate accountability. You are responsible."
Democrats said they regretted the GOP's lines of questioning.
"I want to apologize to you for all the political theater surrounding your appearance," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), ranking member of the full committee. "This hearing is largely an excuse for the majority to again express their dislike for the Affordable Care Act."
Park continues to work as a technology adviser to the Obama administration from Silicon Valley, where he lives.
HealthCare.gov opened again for enrollment on Saturday and has experienced few glitches so far. No congressional hearings have yet been held on the site's current status.
This story was updated at 4:05 p.m.