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Memo Attributes Cover Oregon Problems To Dysfunctional Management

The state has released a bluntly worded memo written by Clyde Hamstreet, the business consultant it brought in to turn around Cover Oregon and serve as the agency’s interim director.

The memo attributes many of Cover Oregon’s problems to executives who lacked experience, fought with each other, and at times spoke in profanities.

“When my team arrived at Cover Oregon in April the organization was in serious disarray. Rarely if ever in my experience as a turnaround professional have I encountered so dysfunctional a leadership and management situation,” Hamstreet wrote.

Hamstreet also recommended that Oregon create a new statewide technology department. He said Cover Oregon’s problems were unusually public, but other state agencies have also struggled to manage their IT systems and databases.

The memo also raises questions about how Governor Kitzhaber is handling the future of the state’s health exchange. Kitzhaber has said he wants to dissolve the agency and allow the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Insurance Division to take over its work.

Hamstreet recommended keeping Cover Oregon intact, and warned that the culture at the Oregon Health Authority was bureaucratic and inefficient.

The memo, dated August 29, is addressed to governor Kitzhaber, the Cover Oregon Board, and the incoming director Aaron Patnode. But Patnode said he asked not to receive the memo and requested an oral presentation instead.

“To me it was more conversational. I’d found in my work that having those conversations tend to lead to a more meaningful output,” Patnode said.

The state of Oregon and contractor Oracle have sued each other over the failure of the state’s health exchange website.

Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting