Friday, February 14, 2014

New Obamacare Website Contractor (It's Your Turn)

The Obama administration is replacing the Obamacare website contractor. But it is taking the same contractor selection approach -- picking a contractor off of a federal government buddies list. No open competition, none
If the ObamaCare contractor brought on ..... to fix the back-end of the portal doesn’t finish the build-out by mid-March the healthcare law will be jeopardized, according to a procurement document posted on a federal website.
It says insurers could be bankrupt and the entire healthcare industry threatened if the build out is not completed.

The procurement document signed by healthcare officials in late December says that the government determined in mid-December that CGI Federal, the contractor originally tasked with connecting the online healthcare portal to insurers, is not up to the task.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) announced .... it was firing CGI Federal, and bringing on Accenture to finish the website.

The document says officials realized in December that the need to bring on Accenture is so urgent that there is no time to go through the “full and open competition process” before awarding them with a $91 million contract.

“There is limited time to build this functionality and failure to deliver…by mid-March 2014 will result in financial harm to the government,” the document says.
Read more: us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook
The back (financial) end of the website is not built, so the government not only doesn't know how many people have actually purchased insurance, it also cannot determine how much of your taxpayer subsidy money to forward to health insurance companies. Change management (like if you have a baby to add to a policy), opt out and cancellation processes are also not implemented. As the website stands now, you can sign up but cannot get out. I can't wait until we hear the stories about poor penniless survivors forced to continue to pay for a deceased loved one's health insurance. It's gonna happen.

Supposedly the new contractor will timely rectify website failures. But if you really think there will be something materially different or significantly improved now that Accenture will be managing the website code writing exercise, you may want to think again.

To review, we blogged last October on how Washington, DC operates in connection with the botched roll out of Obamacare. The IT contractor building Healthcare.Gov was CGI Federal in Sterling, Virginia, an operating division of Quebec based CGI . Our ("I'm not a lobbyist") neighbor across the street in Arlington, Nicholas Evans, is the Vice President of Government Relations (i.e., chief lobbyist) of CGI Federal and an aggressive fundraiser for the Democratic Party, including for the newly elected Virginia governor and former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe. Toni Townes-Whitley, Senior Vice President of CGI Federal, has line authority for the Obamacare portal contract. Ms. Whitely is class of 1985 Princeton classmate, political ally,and student association colleague of Michelle Obama. The Obamacare IT project was a no-bid contract, awarded to a politically (to the Democratic party) and personally (to the Obama's) connected contractor.

In my experience, Accenture is one of the two or three most expensive of the gang of Beltway bandits. The firm hires former federal officials who worm their way back into agencies to roam the halls and glad hand, cajole and manipulate (or worse) contract awards from their former colleagues and subordinates. I saw it first hand when I worked at Postal Service Headquarters in DC, where Accenture's inside marketing lead was a former Deputy Postmaster General, the number two man in the agency (his masked, last nameless, LinkedIn profile is here), who had at one time or another been chief operating officer, chief financial officer and head of employee and labor relations. You or I would get an armed escort out of the building if we roamed around the grounds and into and out of offices the way that guy did, but among the portals of official Washington, DC he is courted with open arms.

The Washington Post reported on the Postal Service's Inspector General's bleak assessment of Accenture's performance as a federal contractor.
The U.S. Postal Service Inspector General’s Office wrote in June that Accenture had “demonstrated an absence of business ethics” and said that the agency should consider terminating the firm’s more than $200 million in contracts. The office cited in part a 2011 settlement with the Justice Department in which Accenture paid $63 million to resolve alle­gations of what the government called “kickbacks” and “bid-rigging” in numerous federal contracts.
The Inspector General concluded,
Accenture’s involvement in several improper contracting practices creates an immediate risk of future fraud and abuse in Postal Service contracts. As a result of prior OIG audits and investigations, DOJ settlements, and the DCAA’s findings of inadequacies in the supplier’s cost-estimating and timekeeping systems, the supplier has demonstrated an absence of business ethics, a lack of transparency, and insufficient internal controls in its business dealings with the Postal Service. The Postal Service should consider Accenture for suspension or debarment and review existing contracts to determine whether the contracts warrant termination. This action would protect the Postal Service’s financial interest from unethical, dishonest, or otherwise irresponsible supplier practices. 
OIG is Office of Inspector General, DOJ is Department of Justice and DCAA is Defense Contract Audit Agency, which is the lead audit watchdog on most major government contracts. Everyone who is supposed to be protecting the government is speaking up here, but the government cannot be protected from the dunderhead politicians who oversee it, and the self-serving bureaucrats who operate it.

It should be no surprise that it is Accenture's turn now, for my former neighbor, a leader in the influence peddling scheme and political gamesmanship that earned CGI the initial Obamacare contract, learned his trade at Accenture.



Vice President, Government Relations

CGI Federal
Fairfax, VA

Senior Manager


Mr. Evans remains joined at the hip with his buddies at his former employer, co-leading the industry lobbying group.

Legislative Action Network

The Legislative Action Network (LAN) is the hub of PSC’s congressional advocacy efforts. The LAN is a forum for PSC members and staff to share emerging information about key legislative initiatives and to develop strategies for communicating our message on Capitol Hill, and serves as the focal point for PSC’s grassroots activity. More than just a discussion forum, the LAN convenes monthly and as necessary, both physically and virtually, to coordinate and amplify advocacy efforts on behalf of our industry.

Nicholas Evans, Vice President, CGI Federal
Nigel Stephens, Manager of Federal Government Affairs, Accenture

Pay no attention people. Carry on. All is well.

No comments:

Post a Comment