When he walked into his ceremonial office in the Statehouse Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Peter Shumlin was armed and ready to take on a bunch of pledge drive perpetrators.
Shumlin was there to host a press conference focused on his efforts to fight climate change. But reporters in the room were just waiting to ask him about a Vermont Public Radio story indicating that a state consultant had warned his administration repeatedly since last April that its new health insurance exchange was at risk of failing.
According to documents obtained by VPR's Taylor Dobbs, the problems at Vermont Health Connect were so severe that the contractor, Gartner Consulting, advised state officials on May 22 to "escalate missed deliverable dates or milestones to highest levels within the state and [website developer] CGI."
Here's what reporters wanted to know: Was Shumlin aware that the state's own consultants had issued such dire warnings so long ago? If so, why didn't he disclose the problems to Vermonters? And if he was sufficiently briefed, why did he tell VPR's Bob Kinzel on Nov. 1 that, by Labor Day, "We did not know the magnitude of the challenges we were going to face interacting with the feds, all the other problems we’ve been having."
Evidently anticipating the confrontation, Shumlin brought to Wednesday's press conference a print-out of a July 8 story in the Burlington Free Press. Asked about Dobbs' story, here's what the gov said: