White House Seeks Small Business to Manage Obamacare Website

Tuesday, 29 Apr 2014 09:41 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Six months after the launch of Obamacare, the White House is searching for its third contractor to run the technically challenged healthcare exchange website, The New York Times reports.

Federal officials are especially interested in finding "small businesses owned by women, disabled veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including blacks and Hispanic Americans" to do the job, according to the Times.

The problem-plagued Healthcare.gov website has experienced myriad glitches since its Oct. 1 rollout, including delays, system freezes, error messages, hang-ups, duplicate enrollments, and incorrect information about premium subsidies.

The Obama administration blamed many of the problems on the original company in charge of the site, CGI Federal, according to the Times, before hiring consulting behemoth Accenture to take over in January.

The New York Post criticized the decision, saying Obama "outsourced" his signature piece of legislation to a company that has 80,000 Indian workers, 35,000 in the Philippines, and just 40,000 in the United States.

A year later, the White House is looking to replace Accenture, whose contract expires in January 2015. The company was paid about $90 million for the one-year contract. The Washington Post reported in February that during the past decade, about 30 Accenture projects encountered "technical problems and cost overruns."

Accenture’s replacement is expected to "overhaul the website under aggressive time constraints" and "transition a large-scale systems development project of 400 to 500 employees in three months," the Times reports, referencing documents distributed to federal contractors. The administration also wants the new vendor to continuously improve the site and reduce error rates and response times while expanding its capacity.

The system must be tested two months before the Nov. 15 open enrollment period, something that Obama has said 8 million people enrolled through federal and state exchanges, but it is unclear how many of those have actually paid their first premium. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the figure to reach 13 million in 2015 and 24 million in 2016, according to the Times.

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