Nightly News   |  October 25, 2013

Healthcare.gov to ‘work smoothly’ by end of November

White House economic advisor Jeff Zeints has said that by the end of November -- just five weeks away -- the federal healthcare website will be working smoothly for the vast majority of users. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> there is news again tonight on the effort to physician the website for the president's new health care law . today the government handed oversight of the troubled project to a private company and even named a date by which the website should be running smoothly. nbc's tom costello on the story for us again tonight. he's in our d.c. newsroom. good evening.

>> hi, brian. the administration says it will take until november 30 before the website is operating as it should. it insist it is problems aren't fatal and it is making a big promise. under intense pressure to get health care .gov up and running without glitches and hiccups the administration came out with a bold declaration.

>> the website health care .gov is fixable. and functional.

>> reporter: the man in charge of getting it fixed went further in a teleconference with reporters.

>> by the end of november, health care .gov will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.

>> reporter: the end of november is just five weeks away. december 15 is the deadline for people to siep up if they want insurance on january 1. the government is handing over project control to a private contractor, qssi, a subsidiary of united health . one of the builders of the website . at this clinic in new jersey this week frustration with the process.

>> we tried the first day. didn't work. tried another time. it crashed. just now trying to get health care coverage for the third or fourth time. nothing. it's been frustrating.

>> the government says 700,000 people have now submitted applications but admitted that at times just 30% of users have been able to complete an application. it isn't saying how many people have been able to enroll in an insurance plan. this is your application.

>> correct. every time i come to my application it says incomplete.

>> reporter: database and software programmer luke chung is skeptical the site can be fixed by november 30 .

>> it's difficult to take over somebody else's code, figure out what is wrong with it and fix it. sometimes you have to throw it away and start from scratch.

>> reporter: jim johnson conducts research into i.t. project failures believes a small focused team can save the website .

>> what really has to happen is somebody has to go in with a scalpel and take out a lot of code. it's probably faulty. that's the challenge.

>> reporter: today secretary sebelius said she had been surprised by the website failures. next week she'll testify on capitol hill where she's expected to undergo tough questioning, especially from house republicans, many of whom don't like obama care to begin with. brian?

>> what a mess in washington. tom costello in the d.c. newsroom tonight. tom, thanks.