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Source: November deadline for Healthcare.gov possible

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Healthcare.gov after makeover

(CNN) — A source with knowledge of the technical operations for fixing the Obamacare website pushed back Wednesday on a report in the Washington Post that said software problems with the troubled healthcare website are unlikely to be resolved by the end of the month.

The Obama administration’s Chief Information Officer, Todd Park, told a congressional committee Wednesday that healthcare.gov can currently handle barely half of its intended capacity.

But a source told CNN that tech experts working on the site still think the November 30 deadline for making the website widely available is doable.

“I have not heard anyone in a position of authority and knowledge freak out” that the deadline is not possible to meet, the source said.

President Barack Obama and members of the administration have repeatedly said the website will work for a “vast majority” of Americans by the end of November, almost two months after the flawed initial roll-out.

However, the same source cautioned that from a software perspective, websites are never “done.” The source said it is expected that the administration will be able to point to significant progress by November 30, even if it is not a flawless operation.

According to the Post, CGI Federal, the site’s main contractor, has repaired about six of every 10 defects identified so far. A source told CNN that metric does not mean much because the administration has not divulged the issues on the list, adding that some fixes are critical and others are not.

Software fixes, two industry sources say, are not a linear process, so the site does not necessarily get better each day. That’s a reality that is frustrating to administration officials who are promising as much.

Teams of tech experts in a McLean, Virginia hub are currently working in crowded conference rooms to fix the troubled website, according to two sources familiar with the facility. Each day the professionals discuss progress and outstanding issues from the website during two formal calls, one in the morning and one in the evening.

The so-called “war room calls” are led from a designated healthcare.gov war room in nearby Herndon, Virginia, another Washington suburb. Employees working to fix the website at various DC area locations are linked by videoconference. Participants stand to deliver their assessments.

There are also a lot of informal meetings throughout the day at the QSSI location, according to one source.

“It’s crowded. There’s a lot of energy. It’s what you would expect from a bunch of programmers crashing really hard,” one source who has seen the operation said, adding that the atmosphere is very similar to that of a political campaign in the closing days of an election. Teams of tech experts are working extremely long hours.

“It’s a lot of work, but people are committed to it. I haven’t heard anyone say it’s not a doable job,” the source said of the November 30 deadline.

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