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HHS Cancels November Conference for Contractors

1:14 PM, Oct 29, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
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Last Thursday, representatives from four of the main contractors working on various aspects of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act testified at a Congressional hearing.  The contractors were hired by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that is responsible for administering the Obamacare insurance exchanges.  The testimony revealed a disturbing lack of coordination and communication between CMS and the contractors throughout the development period for the website, as well as related tasks.

As if on cue, late Friday afternoon CMS announced the cancellation of a conference originally scheduled for November 4 entitled "Contracting with CMS Conference".  The conference was announced on September 16 with the following flyer:

The announcement of the indefinite postponement that appeared on Friday afternoon read:

THIS NOTICE IS TO INFORM YOU THAT THE "SAVE THE DATE:  NOVEMBER 4, 2013" CONFERENCE HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.  PLEASE CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE FBO FOR A NEW DATE.

CMS holds such conferences periodically to allow contractors to "[l]earn about future opportunities, ...forecast of opportunities, critical missions, and specific program initiatives."  A document for just such a conference in May listed CGI, the main contractor responsible for Healthcare.gov, as one of the companies represented.

No reason was given for the postponement of the November conference.  An email sent to the address provided for the conference was answered with an automated reply saying that registration was not currently open, but that a conference would be held in Baltimore in the "near future."

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