Washington (CNN) -- It was the government's fault, contractors on the problem-plagued website for President Barack Obama's signature health care reforms told a congressional hearing on Thursday.
In more than four hours of testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, officials of companies hired to create the HealthCare.gov website cited a lack of testing on the full system and last-minute changes by the federal agency overseeing the online enrollment system.
Angry exchanges between Republicans who oppose Obamacare and Democrats defending it erupted repeatedly, while the contractors insisted their work went fine even though the software buckled when the system went online on ...view middle of the document...
Committee aides say Sebelius has failed to respond to a previous request and Issa is now giving her until Monday to comply or possibly face "compulsory" action.
At Thursday's hearing, committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan called the launch of the website "nothing short of a disaster," noting that contractors at the hearing previously "looked us in the eye and assured us repeatedly that everything was on track, except that it wasn't."
Upton and other Republicans said it heralded problems with the rest of the Obamacare reforms.
"I am more nervous today than I was when I got here," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan said of security concerns raised by Thursday's testimony, such as code changes being made to fix the problems without undergoing normal testing.
Democrats, however, accused Republicans of continuing a campaign to sabotage the health care reforms instead of working to fix problems in the system intended to help millions of uninsured Americans obtain affordable health coverage.
They noted that media headlines in 2006 blared similar descriptions of rollout problems with the Medicare Part D prescription drug reforms of the Bush administration, but that Democrats then worked with Republicans to resolve the issues instead of trying to scrap the legislation.
"The Republicans don't have clean hands coming here. Their effort is not to make things better," said Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey. "Let the goal here be to fix it, not nix it."
In the first detailed account of what happened, officials of four contractors involved in the website creation described a convoluted system of multiple companies operating separately under the oversight of CMS, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Each said their individual components generally performed as planned after internal testing, but all conceded that CMS failed to conduct sufficient "end-to-end" testing of the entire system before the launch.
"The system didn't receive adequate end-to-end testing," declared Andrew Slavitt of Optum, while Cheryl Campbell of CGI Federal added "no one ever gets enough time for testing."
Campbell, whose company has a contract worth a possible total of more than $200 million for its work on the system, noted than an end-to-end test conducted within two weeks of the launch caused the system to crash. She said it was up to CMS to decide on proceeding with the rollout.
Slavitt, whose company stands to make up to $85 million for its work, acknowledged that unexpected volume at the start overwhelmed the "enterprise identity management" or EIDM entry portal blamed for the initial blockages.
He and Campbell blamed a decision by CMS within two weeks of the launch to require users to fully register in order to browse for health insurance products, instead of being able to get information anonymously, as originally planned.
While the technical change to require registration was easy, the result was a...