Only days following reports that the IRS has retained the services of the same contractor accused of botching the Healthcare.gov website, an inspector general’s report is slamming the federal government’s sloppy, inattentive and ultimately costly lack of diligence in vetting and overseeing Obamacare contractors.
The Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled its criticism last Thursday, accusing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of failing to protect public funds when it failed to conduct background checks on contractors and, once contractors had been retained, did not hold contractors accountable for cost and deadline overruns.
“For a project of this size and importance, CMS missed opportunities to leverage all available acquisition planning tools and contracting approaches to identify and mitigate risks,” the OIG report states:
When awarding the Federal Marketplace contracts, CMS did not always meet contracting requirements. For example, CMS did not develop an overarching acquisition strategy for the Federal Marketplace or perform all required oversight activities. Moreover, for a project of this size and importance, CMS missed opportunities to leverage all available acquisition planning tools and contracting approaches to identify and mitigate risks. Specifically, CMS did not exercise the option to plan for a lead systems integrator to coordinate all contractors’ efforts prior to the launch of the Federal Marketplace. The complexity of the Federal Marketplace underscored the need for CMS to select the most qualified contractors. However, CMS did not perform thorough reviews of contractor past performance when awarding two key contracts. CMS also made contracting decisions that may have limited the number of acceptable proposals for much of the key Federal Marketplace work. In addition, CMS selected contract types that placed the risk of cost increases for this work solely on the Government.
The report goes on to identify numerous instances in which CMS requested or received contract proposals from only a single company. It also notes CMS “did not perform thorough reviews of contractor past performance,” as was undoubtedly the case with contractors such as CGI Federal.
HHS severed its ties with CGI after the first botched rollout of Obamacare website Healthcare.gov. Seven months afterward, the undeterred IRS hired CGI to provide “critical functions” for the agency’s Obamacare tax enforcement program.