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The Obama administration is reportedly dumping the IT contractor responsible for building the glitch-riddled healthcare.gov website.
Officials familiar with the situation say CGI Federal’s inability to resolve the many problems that plague the online federal health care exchanges prompted federal officials to look elsewhere for IT help.
Obama administration officials are preparing to sign a 12-month contract valued at $90 million with a different contractor, Accenture, after CGI Federal’s contract expires in February, the Washington Post reported, citing “a person familiar with the matter.”
“Accenture, which is one of the world’s largest consulting firms, has extensive experience with computer systems on the state level, and it built California’s new health insurance exchange,” the Post report notes. “But it has not done substantial work on any federal health-care program.”
An Accenture spokeswoman in a phone interview with the Post commented on a possible contract with the federal government: “We are in discussions with potential clients all the time but it is not appropriate to discuss with the media contracts we may or may not be discussing.”
And though a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not say outright that the Obama administration had hired Accenture, he did say this: “We continually evaluate our needs and remain focused on ensuring consumers have access to affordable, quality coverage.”
Here are a few details we know about the Fed’s reported new IT contractor:
In the fall of 2012, Accenture finished an online human-services eligibility project for Iowa, modernizing a nearly 20-year-old system in less than a year. In February, it won a $230 million grant to overhaul the technology behind Ohio’s Medicaid program and to create a streamlined online-application process for several state-aid programs.
Accenture had one contracting dispute with the federal government that ended up in court, agreeing in September 2011 to pay $63 million to settle a Justice Department lawsuit alleging that it improperly benefitted from recommending specific hardware and software as part of government contracts, as well as inflating prices on contracts and distorting the federal bidding process. The firm denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Reports that the White House is running away from CGI Federal and seeking help elsewhere could signal that, rather than having things under control, the administration is still scrambling for a solution to its faulty multi-billion dollar website.
Recall that after months of insisting on an in-house fix, the White House conceded defeat in December and handed the website over to experts in the private sector. The reported deal with Accenture could be just another attempt to branch out to find someone to repair the glitch-prone mess of a website.
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