WASHINGTON Aug 7 A top U.S. healthcare official
involved in the botched rollout of the website HealthCare.gov
may have deleted some emails that were later sought by
Republican congressional investigators, administration officials
said on Thursday.
The emails were from a public email account maintained by
Marilyn Tavenner, who heads the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) agency chiefly responsible for implementing
President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law.
"While we have not identified any specific emails that we
will be unable to retrieve, it is possible that some emails may
not be available," a CMS records official said in an Aug. 6
letter informing the National Archives of the situation.
The letter made no reference to any evidence that Tavenner
intentionally hid or destroyed the emails. An administration
official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, attributed the
potential loss to "sloppy record keeping".
Republicans who have made the Affordable Care Act, including
last October's problem-riddled launch of HealthCare.gov, top
issues in the November congressional elections. Some House
Republicans have raised questions about congressional testimony
from Tavenner and other administration officials who predicted
before the rollout that HealthCare.gov would launch
"An initial analysis gives us confidence that the vast
majority of Administrator Tavenner's email records are
retrievable," said CMS spokesman Aaron Albright.
He said CMS has identified more than 71,000 emails that
include Tavenner's name as recipient or author.
"There are no significant chronological gaps and we are
working to compile the most complete email record for her as
possible," Albright said.
U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, Republican chairman of the
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which
subpoenaed Tavenners' emails late last year, accused the
administration of losing or destroying the emails of more than a
score of witnesses in its investigations.
"Yet again, we discover that this administration will not be
forthright with the American people unless cornered," Issa said
in a statement.
CMS said the missing emails were from a public account that
received an extremely high volume of messages from outside
groups. Tavenner sought to preserve some emails by forwarding
them to her internal staff for retention and retrieval. But
officials said the practice was irregular and that emails she
did not forward to the internal HHS system may not be
Last November, CMS said Tavenner began to maintain her own
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by David Gregorio)