A few days ago, when we reported that the existing main IT contractor behind Obamacare, CGI Federal, was kicked out and replaced by Accenture, we wondered the reason was that the government was unable to go through the "full and open competition process" before awarding them with a $91 million contract. Recall that "because of time constraints, CMS is awarding the Accenture contract on a sole-source basis." Naturally in a process plagued with mistake after mistake, awarding an express contract with no RFP or contract bidding, is merely the latest one.
So how does the Federal government explain this scramble to hand over the "sole-sourced" healthcare.gov IT contract (to a company made possible thanks to Enron) so late in the process? Simple: the usual mutually assured destruction tactic used so "effectively" in all other recent rushed decisions. As The Hill reports, unless Accenture finishes (and fixes) the back-end of the HealthCare.gov portal by mid-March, the healthcare law will be jeopardized, according to a procurement document posted on a federal website. The punchline: "It says insurers could be bankrupt and the entire healthcare industry threatened if the build out is not completed." In other words, a newly retained consulting company has less than three months to fix all the errors of coding by a different company, and make sure healthcare.gov is working properly... all 500 million lines of healthcare.gov's code?
The Hill has more:
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.
“If this functionality is not complete by mid-March 2014, the government could make erroneous payments to providers and insurers,” it continues. “Additionally, without a Financial Management platform that accounts for enrollments and associated program costs that integrates with the existing CMS Accounting platform, the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.”
Many of those who have signed up for ObamaCare are eligible for federal subsidies, which the government pays directly to the insurers. The document says that failure to complete the project by mid-March can result in “inaccurate issuance of payments to health plans which could seriously put them at financial risk; potentially leading to their default and disrupting continued services and coverage to consumers.”
Wow: so some pretty dire consequences if an outside third party fails at its task? So what exactly will Accenture have to fix :
According to the document, the system is vulnerable to “inaccurate forecasting” of the risk mitigation programs in place to pay insurers who enroll a higher-than-expected number of sick patients with expensive bills, “potentially putting the entire health insurance industry at risk.”
By mid-March, Accenture must build a financial management platform that tracks eligibility and enrollment transactions, accounts for subsidy payments to insurance plans, “provides stable and predictable financial accounting and outlook for the entire program,” and that integrates with existing CMS and IRS systems.
Accenture will also have to clean up some aspects of the project that CGI failed to complete, such as the notorious 834 enrollment transmissions to insurance companies that in October and November were transmitting inaccurate and garbled data.
In November, CMS deputy chief information officer Henry Chao told lawmakers that 30 percent of HealthCare.gov was still under construction, but the specifics and consequences remained murky.
Perhaps a better question is "what it won't have to fix" as it is absolutely impossible that in under three months the new consultancy will be able to fix all the errors in coding left over by the former contractor. Which is why we find it quite surprising that suddenly the fate of Obamacare and the "Entire Healthcare Reform Program" lies in the hands of a measly $91 million contract. Although, if the intention is to merely have a scapegoat for a failed ponzi scheme, then this is precisely the way one would go about it. And if indeed Obama drops the hammer on Accenture, well... we hear the name Andersen Consulting is available.