No one has been able to figure out why federal officials considered only one firm to design the $678 million HealthCare.gov health insurance exchange portal that has performed so abysmally since its Oct. 1 roll-out.
The Washington Examiner reported:
Rather than open the contracting process to a competitive public solicitation with multiple bidders, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid accepted a sole bidder, CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company with an uneven record of IT pricing and contract performance.
CMS officials are tight-lipped about why CGI was chosen or how it happened. They also refuse to say if other firms competed with CGI, or if there was ever a public solicitation for building Healthcare.gov, the backbone of Obamacare’s problem-plagued web portal.
Instead, it appears they used what amounts to a federal procurement system loophole to award the work to the Canadian firm.
The question is – why? As Fox News reported, CGI has a very checkered history with other government contracts.
In projects stretching from Canada to Hawaii, parent company CGI Group and its subsidiaries ran into complaints about its performance. And this was while, and in some cases before, CGI Federal was paid millions, along with other contractors, to create the ObamaCare website.
“The morning I heard CGI was behind [Healthcare.gov], I said, my God, no wonder that thing doesn’t work,” said James Bagnola, a Texas-based corporate consultant who was hired by the Hawaii Department of Taxation (DOTAX) in 2008.
CGI Technologies and Solutions, Inc., another subsidiary, had been responsible for overhauling the IT systems for the Hawaii tax department, and then, developing its new delinquent tax collection services. Not only was the software and implementation problematic, but the second contract, signed in 2009, paid CGI millions for work it did not complete, according to a state audit completed in 2010 on the matter.
Still, they hold contracts all over the Hawaii government. Hawaii’s Health Connector, the state’s new health exchange for providing insurance options under ObamaCare, hired CGI to build its website. Like HealthCare.gov, the Hawaii portal had immediate problems when it launched on Oct. 1, but those have since been rectified and so far, according to Health Connector officials who spoke with FoxNews.com, they are not blaming CGI.
Bagnola doesn’t buy it, saying when they overhauled DOTAX’s IT, “the system was broken all the time.”
“I can’t believe people continue to hire incompetency,” he added.
The firm’s performance was also called into question when parent company, CGI Group, was hired to design and execute a new $46.2 million diabetes registry for eHealth Ontario, part of the Canadian government health care system. That contract was canceled in September 2012 after a series of delays that rendered the system obsolete, according to news reports at the time.
“They did not meet the requirements of their contract which was faced with many layers of delays, which caused great angst among the health care providers who are trying to do their best,” Frances Gélinas, a member of Ontario’s provincial parliament, told the Washington Examiner, in an Oct. 10 report.
Enter Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85, senior vice president at CGI Federal, the U.S. arm of a Canadian company.
Townes-Whitley and her Princeton classmate Michelle Obama are both members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.