Contractor Rejects Illegal HHS Request to Withhold Subpoenaed Documents from Congress

Published: Dec 13, 2013

WASHINGTON – contractor Creative Computing Solutions, Inc. (CCSi) has rejected an unlawful request from the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold documents subpoenaed by the Oversight Committee.  In a letter to HHS Office of Acquisition and Grants Management Director Daniel Kane CCSi Senior Vice President wrote:

“CCSi takes [its] contractual compliance and customer relations extremely seriously. To that end, CCSi has concluded, after consulting legal counsel, that the enclosed subpoena compels production of the documents requested and, therefore, falls outside the above-referenced contract clause and guidance letter from your office. A validly-issued congressional subpoena compelling the production of documents that are within CCSi’s possession is neither a ‘request’ for documents nor an ‘unauthorized’ disclosure of such documents.”

The letter responds to a December 6, 2013 letter from HHS to CSSi that demanded, “As it relates to your contract with CMS, you are required to inform me, as Director of the Office of Acquisition and Grants Management, of any requests for ST&E information that you receive from any party, and you may not release documents without authorization from CMS.  If you receive a request for this information from Congress, CMS will respond directly to the requestor and will work with the requestor to address its interests in this information.”

Documents subpoenaed by the Oversight Committee relate to security vulnerabilities present in the website that pose a risk to sensitive personal information submitted by applicants seeking coverage.  The Committee has reviewed, but not been allowed to have copies or retain notes of documents, suggesting that HHS officials decided against addressing security vulnerabilities with the site that would have required a delay of the October 1 launch.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., issued the following statement on CCSi’s decision to comply with the lawful subpoena it received from Congress:

“Americans should be disturbed that this Administration is trying to stop government contractors from providing Congress with documents related to the decision to launch while known and serious security vulnerabilities were and still may be present.  CCSi’s analysis of the law is correct and its decision to comply protects its executives, investors, and customers from the risk of criminal prosecution for contempt of Congress.

“The Committee has told HHS that it will make needed consultations with security experts to ensure the protection of sensitive information.  The Administration’s remaining objections are a specious effort to hide serious problems and reckless decision making by officials.”

Another contractor, MITRE, subpoenaed by the Oversight Committee has not yet indicated if it intends to comply with the subpoena issued by the Oversight Committee.