The former Director of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), David Wright, recently resigned in powerful fashion, penning a scathing letter to his boss in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about the “remarkably dysfunctional HHS bureaucracy.”

The letter, written on February 25th and recently published at sciencemag.org, details the “intensely political environment” that is HHS, the department charged with crafting and implementing Obamacare policy and regulations.

Apart from being famous for drafting 20,000 pages of onerous regulations inspired by the nearly 2,000 page Obamacare statute, HHS also made headlines for it’s spectacularly disastrous rollout of healthcare.gov, the website responsible for ensuring the American people are actually able to comply with the new healthcare law.

In the wake of the rollout controversy, the American people were livid, many calling for the Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebellius, to resign. At minimum, the public wanted someone to be held accountable for the incredibly expensive, taxpayer funded, disaster. In the end, no one ever was.

According to Wright’s letter of resignation, unaccountability is the name of the game at HHS [Emphasis Added].

[T]he organizational culture of OASH’s [Office of Assistant Secretary of Health] immediate office is seriously flawed, in my opinion.  The academic literature over the last twenty-five years on successful organizations highlights several characteristics: transparency, power-sharing or shared decision-making and accountability.   If you invert these principles, you have an organization (OASH in this instance), which is secretive, autocratic and unaccountable.

In one instance, by way of illustration, I urgently needed to fill a vacancy for an ORI division director.  I asked the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (your deputy) when I could proceed.  She said there was a priority list.  I asked where ORI’s request was on that list.  She said the list was secret and that we weren’t on the top, but we weren’t on the bottom either. Sixteen months later we still don’t have a division director on board.

There was a time when the vast majority of the American people understood that there is such a thing as too much bureaucracy. Although a large contingent of the American public still understands this, and it was one of the primary drivers behind resistance to Obamacare in the first place, it wasn’t enough of a detractor to stop the law’s passage.

What people must understand is that Wright’s resignation letter is the furthest thing from an outlier. Indeed, it is only an anomaly to the extent that it actually saw the light of day.

Obamacare may be “the law of the land,” but it is truly a bad law. As time passes, the American people are continually being exposed to this reality.

This letter, while just one small example, is indicative of one Obamacare’s paramount flaws: it creates a bureaucratic system that is simply too large to be held to any real account. Moreover, it exists in a extraordinarily politicized environment that quells creativity and even respectful, thoughtful dissent.

Since I’ve been here I’ve been advised by my superiors that I had “to make my bosses look good.”  I’ve been admonished: “Dave, you are a visionary leader but what we need here are team players.”   Recently, I was advised that if I wanted to be happy in government service, I had to “lower my expectations.”  The one thing no one in OASH leadership has said to me in two years is ‘how can we help ORI better serve the research community?’  Not once.

Sadly, this is the path the American people have freely laid before their feet. One with lower expectations, stifled visionaries, and a boss who never has to feel the cold hand of accountability. When it comes to the health of our nation, this is simply an unacceptable future.

You want to change it? Find your way to the ballot box this November, because there are still a few folks in power who you can hold accountable.

Don’t miss the opportunity.

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