President Obama, accompanied by soon-to-be economic adviser Jeffrey Zients, who has been overseeing the improvement of the Healthcare.gov website.
WASHINGTON — It was short of declaring “Mission Accomplished,” but it wasn’t too far off.
The Obama administration on Sunday claimed major improvements in its problem-plagued health care website after a self-imposed Saturday deadline to repair the site.
In sum, it said that the system is getting better bit by computer bit.
Jeffrey Zients, a wealthy management consultant beckoned to be the administration’s chief trouble-shooter, said response times are now one second, compared to eight seconds a month ago.
In addition, error rates have dropped to under 1%, he said, while the system experiences far fewer outages and is stable 90% of the time.
Officials were not specific about how many users tried the site Saturday, the deadline day, but said it can now meet the modest goal of handling 50,000 users simultaneously and 800,000 visitors on a given day.
It was also clear that a huge number of fixes were made in just recent days.
Spokesmen said that amid the 400 software bugs dealt with during the past month, at least 50 were solved on Saturday night alone.
The Affordable Care Act signup page on the Healthcare.gov website has been heralded as a disaster since its rollout earlier this fall.
Zients left little doubt what a disaster he inherited when he took the oversight job at the request of President Obama, just prior to his soon taking over as Obama’s chief economic adviser next month.
He spoke of the many hundreds of software bugs, inadequate computer hardware, terrible response times, frequent outages and crashes, significant weaknesses in how the project was being managed, and both slow decision-making and “diffuse accountability.”
Yet many problems remain, including on the so-called back end when it comes to getting correct personal information to insurers. Some elements, such as a Spanish-language section, are not online yet, either.
But the thrust of the administration’s message Sunday was that it “begins December with a vastly improved Web experience, but mindful of the frustrations of consumers.”
The deadline for enrolling remains Mar. 31. By then the administration hopes to have 7 million enrolled.
That number is critical to support the economics of the Affordable Care Act. It is possible there will be pressure to extend the deadline if that target is not being met.
President Obama’s approval ratings have taken a huge hit amid criticism of the site.
It’s unclear how improvements will change the negative perception, if at all.