Insiders Detail Culture of Secrecy at California’s Obamacare Exchange

Aiden Hill’s introduction to the secretive culture at Covered California came in his first days on the job. He had just been hired to head up the agency’s $120 million call center effort when he emailed a superior April 18, 2013, and got a text message in reply:

Please refrain from writing a lot of draft contract language in government email … And don’t clarify via email … No email.

Later, concerned about contractor performance, Hill conducted an Internet search for “best practices” information to forward a superior. Afterward he got this text:

Aiden—Please stop using government email for your searches.

Hill saw the text messages as a deliberate effort to avoid a paper trail subject to public disclosure. And he says some higher-ups grew increasingly upset by his efforts to flag alleged incompetence and waste.