« | Home | Recent Comments | Categories | »

Accounting for Obamacare: Inside the Company That Built Healthcare.gov

Posted on December 28th, 2013 at 11:39 by John Sinteur in category: bleeding obvious -- Write a comment


That lack of expertise explains why in building healthcare.gov, the government turned to industry contractors; in particular, to CGI Federal, a subsidiary of CGI Group, a Canadian company. To those uninitiated in the dark art of government contracting, it seems scandalous that CGI, a company most Americans had never heard of, a company that is not located in Silicon Valley (where President Obama has plenty of Internet superstar friends who could have formed a dazzling brain trust to implement his signature legislation) but rather in Montreal, could be chosen as the lead contractor for the administration’s most important initiative. While right-wing news outlets have focused on the possible relationship between Toni Townes-Whitley, senior vice president for civilian-agency programs at CGI Federal, and Michelle Obama, both of whom were 1985 Princeton graduates, CGI’s selection is probably more an example of a dysfunctional system than it is a scandal. “A lot of the companies in Silicon Valley don’t do business with the government at that level [the level required for federal contracting],” explains Soloway. “It is very burdensome, and the rules make it very unattractive.” Indeed, government contractors have to meet a whole host of requirements contained in a foot-thick book, including cost accounting and excessive auditing, to prove that they are not profiting too much off the American taxpayer. Hence, there tends to be a relatively small, specialized group of companies that compete for this work, even on such critical matters as healthcare.gov.

Stated reasons for the rules:

to protect taxpayers from waste and fraud

Actual purpose for the rules:

prevent any individual politician or government employee from being blamed for waste and fraud

  1. I’d guess they were the high bidder (bribes).

  2. @chas: Oh, you know about Montreal do you?

  3. What was the old saw again? Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance?

    The Washington Post put the problem succinctly in their headline: “Politics not a factor, but neither were firm’s ties to failed projects” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/healthcaregov-contract-politics-not-a-factor-but-neither-were-firms-ties-to-failed-projects/2013/12/22/61728fca-6753-11e3-a0b9-249bbb34602c_story.html).

    In the Netherlands we still have the debate on the high speed train debacle, which I hope will raise a stink on the same problem. The rules of engagement for procurement may well have made it impossible for the railroad consortium to consider the past performance of their supplier.

previous post: Facebook ‘dead and buried to teens’, research finds

next post: National Defence spent $14,000 on poll about superheroes’ abilities