The PJ Tatler

Oversight Grilling More Contractors, Including on Any Meetings with White House Officials

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is mining each contractor used for even the smallest component of the Healthcare.gov site for evidence that the Obama administration brushed off the need for testing to make sure the website launched on Oct. 1.

The main contractor, CGI Federal, is already working with the Department of Health and Human Services on its “A-team” to fix the site in conjunction with Silicon Valley consultants and healthcare industry tech staffers. CGI was responsible for designing, developing, and implementing the rate comparison tool integral to the site

Other contractors who received elements of the project were DEDE Inc. d/b/a Genova Technology, IDL Solutions, Logistics Management Institute, The Mitre Corporation, National Government Services, Inc., Navigant Consulting, Quality Software Services, Inc., Terremark Federal Group, Serco, Inc. (which is on the paper application side of the processing), and former Edward Snowden employer Booz Allen Hamilton. In all, at least 55 entities shared in between $400 million and $600 million in contracts.

Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and the subcommittee chairmen sent letters to the CEOs of each company to seek information on the “disaster” that is the failed website.

“Based on the Committee’s initial briefings from key contractors, we know that the Administration refused to heed warnings that extra time for testing was needed. Additionally, we know that CMS employees and officials repeatedly used the phrase ‘the White House wants’ when communicating to contractors, and we know that the Administration made a decision to abandon the anonymous shopper feature close to launch,” the letters state. “Many IT experts have suggested that the decision to disable the so-called ‘anonymous shopping’ feature contributed to the failure of HealthCare.gov on October 1, 2013, and in the weeks that have followed.”

The Oversight Committee is separately drilling the Office of Management and Budget after receiving information this week that just a month before the Healthcare.gov launch the Obama administration directed CGI to change the site’s design to conceal price comparisons from consumers who hadn’t registered.

“This lack of testing is concerning due to the amount of sensitive consumer information flowing through the data hub and exchanges,” today’s letter continues.

Companies were asked to provide the committee by 5 p.m. on Friday with a full detailing of their contract and how much money they’ve received to date; a record of all communications with CGI Federal and anyone in the federal government; and a full detailing of meetings on Obamacare including any that included officials from the executive branch.