Obamacare Website Contractor Gets $10 Million NYC Job

Saturday, 25 Jan 2014 11:24 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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CGI Federal, the company losing its federal contract after the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, got a multibillion dollar consolation prize from outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a new report says.

Just hours before Bloomberg left office on Dec. 31, the New York Daily News reports, his administration pushed through a contract to hire the Montreal-based company to oversee a massive overhaul of the city's 311 nonemergency hotline system.

Rival companies are complaining that CGI has little, if any, experience managing call centers, reports .

The former mayor long saw the 311 hotline as one of his office's legacies, and the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications approved the contract shortly before his successor, Bill de Blasio, took office.

The new contract with CGI will cost taxpayers $10 million this year and most likely tens of millions in future years, and company spokesman Linda Odorisio said the deal was awarded "through a full and open competition."

But City Controller Scott Stringer has 30 days to raise objections before the contract is made final, and his spokeswoman, Nicole Turso, said the office plans to conduct "a thorough review and analysis … which includes an examination of the vendor's track record and expertise in projects of this nature."

CGI is moving on to New York's 311 system after the Obama administration decided to drop the company after the glitch-laden HealthCare.gov rollout, which has been a major source of the problems that hit Obamacare when open enrollment began in October.

The federal government is signing sign a $90 million contract with the consulting firm Accenture to work on the HealthCare.gov website, after CGI was already paid an estimated $1 billion to bring the Obamacare signup site online. CGI's federal contract is set to expire at the end of February.

The Bloomberg administration called for 311 system upgrades to alleviate concerns that the system could fail during emergencies. The new system will be cloud-based, with data stored on computers outside the city on systems owned by another vendor, Microsoft.

First responders are worried about CGI's involvement, given its lack of experience with call center systems. Any malfunction in the 311 hotline, set up for non-emergency calls, will prompt people to call 911, which is set aside for emergencies, they say.

“This is New York City. It's not a good place to guinea pig an experiment," said Robert Unger, a spokesman for city first responders' unions. "We want the city to pick a vendor with provable hands-on experience. We're concerned that whoever the city selects has to be a vendor that has hands-on experience with similar systems, and a track record in keeping systems just like this running."

This is not CGI's first contract with the city. It has been paid around $10 million for work under several previous contracts.

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