This week started with a sales pitch from President Barack Obama., the place where millions of Americans are supposed to sign up for insurance under his signature health care law, is riddled with glitches. He told the nation he’d fix it. In the meantime, he urged Americans to sign up the old-fashioned way, with a pen or a phone call.

“It is worth it. It will save you money.”

The White House followed Obama’s Monday press conference with this testimony from three people who successfully dodged the bugs and walked away with new insurance policies.

YouTube video

The administration has taken a lot of heat for the problems with the site. One of the government contractors responsible for the botched site is also responsible for much of the information technology the city of San Diego uses to deliver services locally.

The city awarded CGI Technologies & Solutions Inc. a $91.5 million contract just over a year ago. The contract calls for the company, a subsidiary of Montreal-based CGI Federal, to patch and repair existing computer programs across 18 municipal departments and develop new applications as needed.

“It’s software that helps us run our business,” said Jeff Leveroni, director of information technology for the city.

Leveroni said the programs help city employees do everything from manage finances and personnel records to track progress on filling potholes and issuing permits.

But the past year has been a transition period, Leveroni said, so CGI hasn’t gone much further than maintaining the status quo.

“I am not concerned,” Leveroni said. “Their service delivery to date has been acceptable.”

Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president of CGI Federal, said at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Thursday the woes were caused by another company that set up the site’s registration system. CGI already has several contracts with Los Angeles and the state, which offers its own (more functional) health insurance exchange.

Benjamin Katz, a San Diego technology entrepreneur, warned that any technical glitches here would trickle down to residents.

“Bad IT impacts everything,” Katz said. “It’s going to impact every corner of the city.”

Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her...

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