Editorial: Oregon’s success at hiding failure

Of all the stupefying things that have gone wrong with Cover Oregon, here’s one that redefines success:

Oracle, the primary technology contractor, has posted on its website under “Customer Success Stories” an article about Cover Oregon.

Maybe nobody at Oracle read the article.

Maybe nobody noticed the contradiction with reality.

Or maybe, for Oracle employees, Cover Oregon is success.

Failure pays.

The Oregonian reported Oracle employees are billing hundreds of dollars an hour to make up for their failure to get Oregon’s health insurance website working by missed deadline after missed deadline.

Of course, it’s not all Oracle’s fault.

It’s not all Cover Oregon’s fault.

And it’s not all the fault of Gov. John Kitzhaber or state legislators.

But even splitting up the blame three ways taints them all.

The worst of it is that some Oregonians who lost health coverage, or who thought they might get coverage, won’t have it.

Kitzhaber’s latest effort to set things straight is to beef up oversight of state information technology projects with a new state information officer and legislation planned for the 2014 session.

We’re not convinced that will work.

No matter how much oversight is in place, state officials must be realistic about expectations and honest about progress.

Cover Oregon officials stressed again and again how open and transparent it was going to be. A May internal report uncovered by The Oregonian showed the health exchange website was in serious trouble, but the public was not told. That document was not shared.

Another state official and more legislation doesn’t change a culture of shielding the public from what the government is doing.