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Top CMS IT Official Resigns

November 7, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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Tony Trenkle, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) CIO, is stepping down from that role, as the government agency continues to face intense scrutiny for its failed rollout of the health insurance marketplace.

According to various media reports, Trenkle’s departure was announced in an internal memo this week written by CMS chief operating officer Michelle Snyder. In the memo, Synder said Trenkle was planning on leaving the CMS to take a position in the private sector and that his last day would be Nov. 15, 2013.

Trenkle was in charge of determining whether or not the Healthcare.Gov website for the health insurance exchange of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was secure enough for launch. According to a report from Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Trenkle delayed the decision until the eve of the site’s launch in August of 2013.

CBS News and other news outlets report that he never signed off on the site’s launch. Instead, it reports that CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner signed off on a “special security risk waiver” for the website. CBS News reported that Tavenner explained to Congressional members in a hearing that, "Because of the visibility of the exchange, the Chief Information Officer [Trenkle] wanted to make me aware of it and I agreed to sign it with their recommendation to proceed."

Dave Nelson, the current director of the Office of Enterprise Management, will be appointed Acting CIO of CMS after Trenkle leaves. Niall Brennan, currently the Director of the Office of Information Products and Data Analytics, Office of Enterprise Management, will serve as Acting Director of the Office of Enterprise Management.

Prior to his role at CMS, Trenkle was Director of the Office of E-Health Standards and Services (OESS) from March 2005 to December 2010. Under that role, he was the lead executive for directing the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This included the regulations covering the meaningful use criteria for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) incentives programs and the program management for CMS operational implementation.

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