Months after a problem-riddled rollout of the Healthcare.gov Website, the White House is dismissing a key contractor, CGI Federal, that built much of the portal, according to The Washington Post. (As the online marketplace where Americans can purchase health insurance, Healthcare.gov is a crucial part of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act.)
The newspaper suggested the federal government is on the verge of signing a new contract with a replacement, Accenture, which has some experience in building online health-insurance portals on the state level. “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,” an Accenture spokesperson is quoted as saying.
Unnamed sources “familiar with the matter” informed the Post of CGI Federal’s dismissal, and suggested that it has much to do with continuing anger over the botched introduction of Healthcare.gov, as well as the pace of continuing repairs to the Website. As the contractor’s contract is due to expire anyway at the end of February, government officials reportedly decided that it was the perfect time to pull the plug with a minimum of legal ramifications.
In the weeks following its Oct. 1 launch, Healthcare.gov became the victim of repeated glitches, including the inability to sign up for new accounts. Some of those problems eased as the federal government “surged” more tech workers to fix the underlying infrastructure, but the issues with the Website were blamed for a relatively slow rate of customer signups through the end of 2013. Even as government employees resigned, pundits and legislators debated about which tech companies and federal contractors—if any—would end up blamed for the mess.
But contractors aren’t the only entities to blame. According to The New York Times, the Medicare agency tasked with overseeing the project failed to adequately test, much less integrate, the site’s complex elements ahead of launch day. And despite months of preparations, sections of the Website’s backend infrastructure remain unfinished. More heads could roll before the situation is considered “fixed.”